Getting into fitness doesn't have to be intimidating or complex. In fact, in some cases, starting is as easy as taking a walk.
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While everything from your metabolism to your height to the intensity of your walk or run can affect exactly how many calories you burn, you can be certain that you will shed calories and reap the top-to-bottom benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise when you walk or run regularly, just as surely as you put one foot in front of the other.
Although individual results may vary, a 300-pound person can expect to burn anywhere from 135 to well upwards of 500 calories per 30-minute walk or run, depending on the intensity.
Start With a Walk
If you're looking to trim that waistline, walking will almost always be a solid place to start. It's a low-impact, low-cost, low-stress exercise that caters to people of all sorts of ability levels and packs a whole host of positive benefits. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, walking strengthens your muscles and bones, improves your balance, perks up your mood and reduces the occurrence of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, according to Mayo Clinic.
With just a 30-minute walk, a person who weighs 300 pounds will burn about 136 calories when walking at a leisurely pace of 2 mph, according to estimates from the American Council on Exercise. With increased intensity, of course, comes increased calorie burn:
- 30 minutes at 3 mph (moderate): 224 calories
- 30 minutes at 3.5 mph (brisk): 258 calories
- 30 minutes at 4 mph (very brisk): 340 calories
- 30 minutes at 5 mph (fast): 612 calories
Ready to Run
Walking certainly helps trim fat, especially as you get into that power-walking territory, but those daily steps should be the first steps on your fitness journey rather than the destination. Harvard Health recommends transitioning into moderate-intensity exercise — once you're good and comfortable with a regular walking routine — so you can get your heart pumping and maximize your cardio benefits. Running is one way to do that.
Like walking, the calorie burn for a 300-pound person on the run (or a 90-pound person, for that matter) varies by intensity. Per ACE's Physical Activity Calorie Counter, the estimates for a 300-pound person on a 30-minute run break down like this:
- 30 minutes at 5 mph (a 12-minute mile): 544 calories
- 30 minutes at 6 mph (a 10-minute mile): 680 calories
- 30 minutes at 7 mph (an 8.5-minute mile): 782 calories
- 30 minutes at 8 mph (a 7.5-minute mile): 918 calories
Keep in mind, though, that a 300-pound person will unlikely be running a 7.5-minute mile, but that's totally OK. As you maintain a regular cardio regimen — paired, of course, with strength training and a healthy diet — your running speed will most likely increase in conjunction with your weight loss.
Read more: 17 Reasons to Start Running
Calorie Burn and Weight Loss
Although calories are actually a measure of energy, following a few simple rules of thumb can help you get a handle on the relationship between burning through calories and losing weight. As Mayo Clinic reminds us, burning 3,500 calories is just about equal to losing 1 pound of fat.
Keeping that general rule in mind, cutting about 500 to 1,000 calories per day — which can be achieved with a combination of reducing your caloric intake and burning calories via walking, running or other physical activities — is a basic formula for losing about 1 or 2 pounds of fat per week, with no fancy fitness equipment or expensive personal trainers required.
Take the advice of MedlinePlus and walk more not just as part of your exercise routine, but during your day-to-day life (like parking far away on purpose or choosing to walk when you run your errands). Likewise, use tracking devices, music or apps to keep that all-important motivation up.
Read more: The Best Running Workouts for Beginners
- Mayo Clinic: "Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health"
- Mayo Clinic: "Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories"
- American Council on Exercise: "Physical Activity Calorie Counter"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "How to Start Exercising If You're Out of Shape"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-loss Basics"
- MedlinePlus: "Ways to Burn More Calories Every Day"
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity