Walking has seemingly endless benefits for your health and wellness. Whether your goal is weight loss, better balance, improved mood or simply spending more time outdoors, walking can help get you there.
Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise that's easy to do, requires no special equipment and burns calories effectively. The amount of calories you'll burn walking depends on how long you walk, how strenuous your walk is and how much you weigh.
Calories Burned for Non-Strenuous Walking
Walking at a moderate pace is a great way to get your heart pumping and shed calories. The specific amount you burn, though, depends on factors like your body weight and your pace, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Take a peek at these values to estimate how much you'll burn after an hour of walking:
Calories Burned in One Hour of Walking
Walking at 3.5 mph
Walking at 4 mph
Walking at 4.5 mph
Calories Burned for Strenuous Walking
Bumping up the distance or intensity of your walk increases the number of calories you burn. One easy way to do this is by incorporating elevation in your walk. Head to a nearby hill in your neighborhood, or set your treadmill to an incline.
Another easy way to add incline to your daily walk is to go hiking in a more elevated region, which can burn a serious amount of calories.
Here's how much you'll burn after just an hour of hiking:
Calories Burned in One Hour of Hiking
Calculate How Many Calories You Burn Walking
The MET formula uses so-called metabolic equivalents, one way to estimate how many calories you burn doing a given activity, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
The MET Formula
Calories burned per minute = 0.0175 x MET x weight (kg)
To use the MET formula:
- Find the MET value for your activity online, like in this table from the ACE.
- Convert your weight into kilograms by dividing the number in pounds by 2.2.
- Multiply 0.0175 times that MET value times your weight in kilograms.
- Finally, multiply the result by 60 to get an hour's worth of calorie burn.
Another way to track your calories is by wearing a fitness watch or using a calorie-tracking app. For either option, you'll input your age, gender, weight and activity level. Usually, the wearable trackers use heart rate and time or distance to find your caloric burn.
Walking apps can also estimate your calories burned, using GPS and the data you report (like total walking time and speed or effort).
How to Burn More Calories While Walking
Try these tips to add a little challenge to your workout and increase the number of calories burned while walking.
- Wear a weight vest or hold a light pair of weights.
- Shake up your pace. Interval training — alternating between bouts of faster and slower walking — can help you burn more calories and even lose weight. Beginners should start with 30 seconds of quick walking followed by 2 minutes and 30 seconds at an intermediate pace. Try to complete 5 intervals each time you work out.
- Add some body-weight strength exercises to your walking routine. Try squats, lunges or push-ups to increase your caloric output and build muscle. For every 5 minutes of walking, try to stop and do 1 minute of strength exercises.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Mayo Clinic: "Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve your Health"
- Hospital for Special Surgery: "Burning Calories with Exercise: Calculating Estimated Energy Expenditure"
- ACE: "5 Things to Know About Metabolic Equivalents"