Walking is an excellent form of cardio exercise. It can be done by any one, anytime, anywhere, requiring no special training or equipment (although you will need a good pair of shoes), and it’s a great way to boost mood, improve heart health, and burn calories.
If you want to take up walking for calorie burning or weight loss, you may want to know how many calories you can burn an hour of walking. But the truth is, although most people have an average walking speed, there isn’t a simple way to calculate calories burned by walking without taking into account different variables like your speed and your weight. Let’s take a closer look at how many calories are burned when walking.
How Many Calories Does the Average Person Burn Walking?
Walking burns somewhere between 90-200 calories every 30 minutes. However, the actual number of calories burned depends on your weight; a heavier person has to do more work with every step and burns more calories per hour. Calorie burn also depends on your walking speed, and on where and how you walk. Here’s a quick reference table:
Calories Burned Casual Walking (average adult speed 3.1 mph)
Calories Burned Brisk/Fast Walking (speed of 4-5 mph)
Calories Burned Walking Uphill
Calories Burned Walking Downhill
Calories Burned Walking Up Stairs (moderate pace)
For the most accurate information, personalized to your weight, duration, and activity, check out these great walking calorie calculators:
Walking for Weight Loss
Regular exercise of any kind is important for maintaining your heart health, muscle strength, and even your cognitive functions. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week, or 75 minutes of high intensity activity.
While walking is great way to maintain your health and body weight, most people need to increase the intensity a bit in order to walk for calorie burn and weight loss. Here are some tips to keep in mind when walking for weight loss:
Walk at a Greater Intensity
For most people, casual strolls won’t contribute much to calorie burn or weight loss. Instead, after your warm-up period, you should increase the speed to a faster pace. Monitor your heart rate and try to remain at 60-70% of your heart rate maximum. Keeping your heart rate slightly elevated ensures that your walk is also a cardiovascular workout.
Walk for Longer Periods
While you can maintain your cardio health with just short walks of 10-12 minutes at a time, you get more weight loss benefits from walking for longer periods continuously, even if your total workout time is the same over the course of a week.
Longer workouts force your body to burn through ready energy sources, and then access your fat reserves to burn them for energy. Walks over 30 minutes long may burn the same amount of calories as shorter ones, but they also burn more fat. Here’s a good guide to walking for weight loss for complete beginners.
Other Ways to Max Your Walking Calorie Burn
If you want to make every walk count, you may be interested in ways to maximize your calorie burn while walking. After you have established a regular walking exercise plan, here are some ways to make a walk into a full-body workout:
Change the Surface
Walking on gravel or sand is more challenging than walking on pavement or a treadmill. It allows a greater range of motion in the feet, and makes the lower legs work harder to provide stability, putting more work in every step.
Change Your Shoes
Speaking of strengthening the feet and stabilizing muscles, try walking in zero drop/barefoot shoes. While the zero drop fad has died down, these shoes minimize impact by encouraging the entire foot to make contact (rather than focusing on the heel), allow a greater range of motion in the toes, improve agility, and burn more calories by engaging more of your feet, ankle, and leg muscles in every step.
Minimalist/barefoot shoes like the Vivobarefoot Women’s Primus Treck Lightweight Off Road Trail Walking Shoe or the Oberm Men’s Trail Running Shoes have a barely-there feel that lets your feet do more of the work when you walk.
Vivobarefoot Women’s Primus Treck Lightweight Off Road Trail Walking Shoe
Oberm Men’s Trail Running Shoes
Intervals are a great way to increase the intensity of any workout and can be customized for any fitness goal. Whether you want to increase upper-body engagement, burn more calories, or increase your stamina, you can create an interval for it. Here are some suggestions for calorie-burn walking intervals:
- Double your speed for 60 seconds. Try doubling your speed for 60 seconds, then drop down to regular speed for two minutes. Continue alternating one minute at high speed and regular speed for two minutes
- Add a stair climb. Mix up your walk by including a few minutes of stair climb or uphill/incline in your regular walk. If you can’t find stairs or a hill, add short intervals of high-knee walking instead
- Add other activities at intervals. Every 5 minutes, pause and do 100 high-speed jumping jacks, or 25 lunges on each leg, or a set of squats
- Add weight. While experts advise against weighted shoes or ankle weights when walking, due to the excess strain they place on the ankles, it’s easy to add wrist weights or weighted gloves that increase your calorie burn without adding extra effort. The W8FIT Wrist Weights come in different sizes and weights to maximize your workout. Don’t forget to include any weights added when you use a walking calorie calculator.
W8FIT Adjustable Wrist Arm Weights
- Increase the challenge. Simply incrementally increasing the challenge of every walk is a great way to burn more calories every day. If you walk for a mile, try to make your mile faster every day. If you walk for an hour, try to get a little further in an hour every day. If you use a step counter, try to get a few more steps in every day. Making every walk into a competition with yourself burns more calories and keeps you motivated.
Using the walking calorie calculator will help you figure out how many calories you burn on every walk. And there are dozens of ways to increase the challenge and burn more calories when you are ready, to keep your walking workouts interesting and effective. Walk on!