Walking is great exercise and is a simple way to burn calories. But how many calories do you burn while walking? If you’re trying to shed pounds, you probably want to know exactly how many calories your daily walks are burning. Let’s jump into a deep dive on calories burned walking!
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question. How many calories you burn while walking depends on three main factors: Your weight, walking speed, and intensity.
- A heavy person will burn more calories walking at the same speed and intensity as a lighter person for the simple reason that they have more weight to move.
- Increasing your speed (no matter what your weight) increases your heart rate, which burns more calories.
- You might be thinking speed and intensity are the same, but they’re actually different! Your intensity measures how hard your body is working. For example, walking up a steep hill burns more calories than walking on a flat surface, even when walking at the same speed.
How Many Calories Do You Burn While Walking?
Figuring out your personal calorie burn begins with your weight. A person who weighs 130 pounds (59 kg) can burn 148 calories walking for an hour at only 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph). If you weigh more, you’ll burn even more calories. If you weigh 155 pounds (70kg), the same walk will burn 176 calories. A 205-pound (93 kg) walker will burn 233 calories. This is great news, even if you are a beginner.
Speeding up your walking pace can increase your results dramatically. If you already walk an hour a day, increasing your speed (even without running) can double the number of calories you burn. For example, according to Healthline:
- At 130 pounds (59kg) – 2.5 mph burns 177 calories, 3 mph burns 195 calories, 3.5 mph burns 224 calories, 4 mph burns 295 calories in one hour. (4/4.8/5.6/6.4 kph)
- At 155 pounds (70kg) – 2.5 mph burns 211 calories, 3 mph burns 232 calories, 3.5 mph burns 267 calories, 4 mph burns 352 calories in one hour. (4/4.8/5.6/6.4 kph)
- At 180 pounds (82kg) – 2.5 mph burns 245 calories, 3 mph burns 270 calories, 3.5 mph burns 311 calories, 4 mph burns 409 calories in one hour. (4/4.8/5.6/6.4 kph)
- At 205 pounds (93kg) – 2.5 mph burns 279 calories, 3 mph burns 307 calories, 3.5 mph burns 354 calories, 4 mph burns 465 calories in one hour. (4/4.8/5.6/6.4 kph)
These calorie-burning estimates are based on walking on flat terrain. Walking uphill can increase your calorie burn even more.
Walking uphill at 3.5 mph (5.6kph) for an hour, your calorie burn increases as follows:
- 130 lbs (59kg) – from 224 to 354 cal per hour.
- 155 lbs (70kg) – from 267 to 422 cal per hour.
- 180 lbs (82kg) – from 311 to 490 cal per hour.
- 205 lbs (93kg) – from 354 to 558 cal per hour.
It turns out that walking uphill can burn more than 100 extra calories per hour no matter how much you weigh. While this is exciting news, it’s important to remember that walking uphill puts more strain on your muscles. This may increase your risk of injury, and importantly is more difficult and tiring than flat walking. As with any other changes in your physical routine, you need to take things slow so your body will have time to adjust to the increased difficulty.
You will also want to remember that, unless you’re walking on a treadmill, you’re very unlikely to find an hour-long walk that’s all uphill. Still, adding hills can definitely increase your calories burned per any given time period.
Get Creative to Increase your Intensity
There are many ways to increase the intensity of your walking workout. In fact, we’ve written an entire piece on it! Keeping your walking routine fun and varied can help you stick with it, as well as getting more out of every workout.
You can try walking intervals, where you alternate short periods of fast walking (or jogging) with longer periods of normal walking. Adding in some small hills, or even stairs, to your walking routine can act as “uphill intervals” to add some intensity.
If you’re running errands during your walk, carrying your items in a light backpack, or even just carrying them in bags can increase your effective weight and make your workout slightly more intense. Adding weight can increase stress on your joints, and can also affect your posture depending on how you carry it. That can lead to increased risk of injury, which we want to avoid at all costs. When in doubt, it’s better to simply leave the bags and home and try to walk a bit faster using good form!
Why Does Intensity Matter?
While most of us have defined step goals, we usually only have a set amount of time in each day or week to walk. If you have an hour in your day to walk, the faster your pace, the more steps you’ll get and the more calories you’ll burn in that hour.
Trying to get too intense can lead to lack of motivation and can cause injuries, so make sure to increase your pace gradually. You can use Pacer’s GPS walk tracking to time your walking route, and try to improve on your stats over time.
How Calories Add Up
With the numbers right in front of you, it’s easy to see that walking is a viable form of exercise for weight loss. The amount of weight you can lose, however, does depend on another personal lifestyle factor: the number of calories you consume. Most people know that the nutritional facts on food labels are based on a 2000 calorie daily diet. Assuming that 2,000 calories is right for you, or that a common sense portion is actually a “serving” can be a big mistake, though! It is very common for “normal” portion sizes on your plate to be much larger than the intended serving sizes of food. This is true both in restaurants and at home. It’s especially true in restaurants where you may find that even “healthy” options have huge calories counts. Packaged foods that you eat on the go may actually count as multiple servings, which can trick people who quickly glance at the listed calorie count and assume that it applies to the entire package.
If you are trying to lose weight and you’ve never counted calories, you may want to at least get a sense of how many calories you’re actually taking in. An online search for a calorie counter will give you more results than you could possibly slog through in a lifetime. The USDA and WebMD (WebMD also has a selector for popular food chains.) both offer a complex searchable food calculator. This list from chartsgraphsanddiagrams.com might be an easier place to start.
A comparison of common meal choices is a good way to understand how your calorie intake can be sabotaging your weight loss attempts.
- Breakfast: A traditional breakfast with 2 pieces of bacon, 2 fried eggs, 1 piece of dry white toast, totals 332 calories. Adding a tablespoon of butter to your toast will add an additional 102 calories. A tablespoon of jelly is another 56 calories. A cup of oatmeal is loaded with health benefits and only has 143 calories. A bowl of plain Cheerios with a cup of 2% milk is 225 calories, but if you prefer Honey Nut Cheerios add another 100 calories. Sugary cereals vary widely, so it’s important to check the label. If you think grabbing your breakfast from a box is helping your daily calorie count, consider this: 1 cherry frosted Pop Tart is 204 calories (that’s one pastry, not the entire package).
- Lunch: It’s easy to create a variety of sandwiches under 300 calories. However, a Big Mac meal at McDonald’s comes in at a whopping 1,120 calories. Even “healthier” options can actually be high in calories. A Subway Footlong Tuna Sandwich is 900 calories. Even fast food chains usually have healthier options, so by being strategic, you can make better choices even on the go.
- Dinner: Finding healthy recipes can help you downsize dinner to 500 calories per serving. Translating your regular menu into precise calorie counts will require some careful measurements and studying the labels and serving sizes of your favorite foods.
- Snacks: Try to keep snacks between meals to under 200 calories. Here are some ideas. It’s important to remember that snack calories are still calories! Many snacks, like donuts, cookies, and especially blended frozen drinks can have the same or more calories than “meal” foods.
What’s it all mean?
Both burning calories by walking, and reducing the amount of calories you take in can work together to help you lose weight and get healthy. Learning to count calories will help you learn how much your daily walk is working toward your weight loss goals. As you adopt a healthier lifestyle, you will get used to the healthy food you enjoy and how much they affect your energy level and waistline.
Walking is an easy inexpensive way to get the daily recommended amount of daily exercise. Combined with a healthy diet, walking is a successful weight loss tool as well. To learn more about the benefits of walking, visit our blog. If you haven’t already discovered the Pacer app, download it today for an easy fun way to track your daily activity.