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So, exactly how many calories does walking burn?
This is the million-dollar question that anyone who has ever tried to get fit and lose some weight, wants to, nay, needs to know.
The problem is that no one can tell you the exact answer.
It seems the prospective dieter/ get-fitter can only hazard a guess at the benefits of ‘hitting’ the road aboard Shanks’ Pony.
Table of Contents:
- Does Walking Help Burn Fat?
- How Many Steps Per Day To Burn Calories?
- – How many steps should I take to lose 2 pounds a week?
- – Can I lose one pound a day by walking?
- – Can I get a flat stomach just by walking?
- How To Get Motivated For Walking
- A Closer Look At Walking To Burn Calories (and Fat)!
- – Walking on a flat surface
- – Flat surface vs. incline / hill
- – Walking vs. running
- The Benefits of Walking vs. Running
- Try The Walking Calculator!
- How to lose weight walking or running (Video)
Alright, these are the topics on the docket today, so let’s rock!
Does Walking Help Burn Fat?
So, when you finally complete a march that Chairman Mao would be proud of, with blisters forming on top of blisters, it’s pretty galling when some smug faced ‘expert’ tells you the calories you burned barely put a dent in your morning muffin.
Or maybe that expert looks you in the eye and says “Look, walking alone isn’t worth the trouble – it does NOTHING.”
And then, as that word “NOTHING” bounces around in your head all week, you have to wonder if it’s worth it to even lace up your sneakers.
All of that stomach fat, inner thigh fat, love handles, and arm fat that you’ve noticed appearing on your body in recent years. After a pro tells you that the one thing you actually could see yourself doing – walking – is just not going to have any impact, motivation is lost and that’s a shame.
Days roll by. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope, since you don’t have a lot of time or energy to begin with. After all, you only get about thirteen and a half minutes for your dinner ‘hour’. A quick walk is all you have time for, really.
Is getting off your ass and marching about in the rain, when you’d rather be home with a cup of tea, going to make a blind bit of difference?
In a word; YES. It is worth it. That expert who tells you basically not to even bother with walking, just forget about him or her for a moment. Now let’s get to why walking can help you to lose fat all over your body.
Walking is something we can (nearly) all do, in some capacity.
Perhaps it suffers from being the poor relation of the ubiquitous running.
Yes, you are unlikely to set any world records whilst going to the shops for a pint of milk. Simple walking may lack the glamour of running a marathon, or the camaraderie of a group event like parkrun.
And maybe you’re never going to take gold at the Olympics by deciding to walk the school run. But you should still do it. Because any steps you take per day are going to add up. But just how many steps do you need to take to burn some serious calories and hence body fat?
How Many Steps Per Day To Burn Calories?
Because the beauty of walking, is that walking is something that can easily fit in to your normal routine. A lot more easily than running can.
And by making a few little changes to your life, on a regular basis, you can begin to see real benefits. It’s all about steps per day, and you want to get them in where ever you can.
This is not because if you don’t, you should feel guilty about it, but because walking should be fun and because you and everyone on the planet who can walk should value your mobility.
Opting to walk places, rather than sit in a car or on transport, soon adds up to tangible results you can see. 1 mile is about 2000 steps.
According to Fitbit, you can lose a pound of fat a week if you walk 10 000 steps a day. That’s basically 5 miles a day. This will burn 2000 to 3500 calories, and a pound of body fat is worth about 3500 calories.
Here’s a few more common questions we’ll answer right now regarding steps vs. calories.
How many steps a day should I take to lose 2 pounds a week?
Well, if you can lose 1 pound a week by walking 10 000 steps, then double that and you get 2 pounds a week, so that’s 20 000 steps, or 10 miles a day, or 4000-7000 calories a day. If you can do that and keep it up, bravo! That’s a lot of walking!
In fact, that’s about 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours worth of walking at a brisk pace. If you are thinking of attempting this, we recommend picking a few favourite hiking spots in your area, and making it something that you will enjoy doing, rather than walking from your house to the grocery store across town and back every day.
A good trail, or at least a good route that you like taking can make all the difference in whether you will care to go on a super long walk every day.
That said, 2 pounds a week is 8 pounds a month, which is a significant amount of weight to lose just by walking. But gosh darn it, it’s not an impossibility.
A lot of people have to walk to work or school, and some people actually do like to take a little adventure walk. This, of course, is every day of the week, so be careful you don’t totally wear yourself out doing this epic mission and a half!
Can I lose one pound a day by walking?
Oh geez, so you really want to do this, huh? Well, considering that 1 pound is equal to 3500 calories, or 10 000 steps, you’re going to have to really put some major effort in to accomplish this.
You’re going to need to be in a fairly substantial calorie deficit here, daily. Losing one pound per day will depend on your caloric intake per day, and it will depend on your metabolism. It will depend on how much water you drink, and how well you can balance all of these factors to achieve a substantial caloric deficit.
Chances are, if you’re asking this question, you are in a major hurry to lose some serious weight. And that worries us a little.
Personally, we’d recommend being a little more reasonable about it, and take it slower. Your body probably won’t appreciate the amount of walking you’d need to do, per day, in order to lose that one pound a day.
Refer to the previous question on how to lose 2 pounds a week, and crunch a some numbers. Keep a journal, in any case.
Bottom line is: you probably would want to try a different and more intensive fitness method other than leisurely or even brisk walking to lose that pound a day. Also, be careful with this! It could be very dangerous!
Can I get a flat stomach just by walking?
The interesting thing about getting a flat stomach is that everyone’s body holds their weight (and fat) in different places. Some people, like a lot of men, hold it in their stomach. A lot of people are after a flat stomach, because they don’t have one.
Others just have super fast metabolism or are genetically pre-disposed to not putting on as much weight there. To those of us who don’t have flat stomachs, but want them, but know people who eat garbage food every day and yet don’t put on weight around their middle, sometimes this can be slightly frustrating to see.
Keep in mind, however, that just because someone is skinny, doesn’t mean they’re healthy. The inside of their bodies could not be in very good shape, and they could run into serious problems later. Just saying.
The problem many people run into is, that if you do sit ups all day, in order to “target” that area, that’s not going to give you a flat stomach even if you do it consistently. That will just strengthen your abdominal muscles, with the fat still on top of it, saying “wheeee!”.
When it comes to fitness, you can’t really localize fat loss. That’s the sad truth, as many of us would do that if we could, ie. focus on one area to lose fat and only that area. But your body would rather you not do that. Once you start losing weight, the fat comes off where it wants to, and the area of your concern, such as your stomach, might be the last place to hang on to that weight.
But all you can really do is just try to lose weight, overall. It will come off, and your stomach will flatten, eventually. Walking is one way to burn calories and fat, although it takes longer than say running or other high intensity methods. That said, walking can be considered a much “nicer” way to lose that weight, because you’re taking it easy.
If you’re really serious about losing weight, we think that walking is great, but it should be only part of an overall routine to be healthy. No need to limit yourself. Education about fitness is the key here.
That said, yes, technically walking can flatten your stomach, if you do enough walking and don’t end the walk by walking into McDonald’s for a big old McFlurry.
Remember that working out tends to make you hungry, so part of the trick is not to work out and then replace all the calories you just lost by eating fatty foods. That’s a big no-no, if you ask us.
Overall, depending on how much you eat per day, and your body’s metabolism, some amount of activity is required in order to burn calories, and burn fat, if that’s your goal. We just want to lay out some numbers for you so you can see what work must be done.
The point is, don’t sweat it. Stress is also unhealthy and just makes matters worse. The bottom line is, it’s about making small choices and changes to your routine over time, like deciding to take the stairs instead of using the elevator, or walking to work. Or maybe just partly walking to work, if you’re pressed for time.
There’s a million ways to add a few more footsteps into your daily regimen. For example, if there’s no other way than getting to your destination than by car, then what about parking further away than normal and walking from the parking lot? Or getting off the bus or train a stop or two early and walking the remainder?
Once you get creative, there are a million little ways of getting more active – and all without ever having to go near a gym!
How To Get Motivated For Walking
Understandably, motivating yourself for the task of moving more and walking places can be tough. It is likely that at least some of your activities will be conducted alone, as you try to make changes to your day to day life.
One good thing about walking is that it can be relaxing, fun, and reduce stress. You can take it slow if you want. No, it’s not HIIT (high intensity interval training), but maybe you’re not ready to jump on the treadmill full speed. Maybe going for a leisurely walk with your wiener dog is easier to do for you, and that’s a start!
To keep motivated you can use modern technology. A pedometer is a great way of achieving your 10,000 steps each day. Some smart phones have a tracker which shows you how far you have walked each day.
In short, you need to go from something like this;
To something more like this…
Additionally, check out some tracking sites such as https://www.mapmywalk.com.
This allows you to track your route, distance, speed and calorie burn, as well as put you in touch with others to help boost your motivation!
Walking is a just great exercise, and good for your heart. One of the best things about is it costs nothing and can be done anywhere(!).
You do not need to involve any other person in order to walk, but you might want to.
Walking with a partner or group may give your willpower the boost you lack, going solo. It also makes the time pass quickly and (hopefully) more enjoyably.
These days, there are all sorts of walking groups about, from Nordic Walking, to ramblers and outdoors associations.
Whatever type of walking you want to do, you can find a group near you who want to do it too.
And company doesn’t always have to be human. Dog walking is a great way of both you and your best friend getting some exercise!
By the way, dogs and cats aren’t the only animal companions you might decide to take along with you on your walk. Other creatures also like to hit the pavement.
But we can’t guarantee that you won’t meet with some resistance in some cases!
From walking groups, to walking the dog, however you decide to incorporate walking into your daily routine, one thing is essential; keep it fun.
Make the walk as enjoyable as possible, vary the distance and direction, take the scenic route, take a friend, listen to your favorite music, learn a second language… do whatever you need to make the activity fun and you won’t think twice about doing it again!
A Closer Look At Walking To Burn Calories (and Fat)!
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers again. How many calories does walking burn off? The answer is, infuriatingly, it varies.
But it can be worked out. It all depends on your size, weight, speed, distance and whether there are any hills. Or you’re carrying anything heavy.
For a basic rule of thumb, walking for an hour burns somewhere around 1.6 to 2.4 calories for every pound of weight you carry. But speed comes into it.
Overall, this is between 230-350 calories for most people, going at an average speed.
A person weighing 155 pounds therefore burns about 232 calories on a flat surface, for an hour, at a reasonable speed (3 mph). Add in a heavy backpack or some shopping and that could increase to 439 calories.
Think about the implications of this for you in your daily life, either hiking with a backpack or walking home from the shops.
For more detail, you need to refer to the calculator tool or look at this chart.
How Many Calories Burned Walking On A Flat Surface?
MPH 2 2.5 3 3.5 4
130 LBS 148 177 195 224 295
155 LBS 176 211 232 267 352
180 LBS 204 245 270 311 409
205 LBS 233 279 307 354 465
It obviously would benefit you to have some sort of electronic tools to tell you how fast you’re going, if you’re going to be keeping track of these numbers.
Calories Burned on a Flat Surface vs. Up a Hill / Incline
Now let us look again at the impact that walking up a hill can make in the overall calorie burn;
Comparing walking speeds of 3.5 mph, see the difference that a simple incline makes.
FLAT UP A HILL
130 LBS 224 354
155 LBS 267 422
180 LBS 311 490
205 LBS 354 558
Soooo…perhaps it’s time to take a few more hills, if you want to burn a few extra calories.
Walking Vs. Running
A bit like cats vs dogs, there is an age-old divide between walking and running. And by and large, folk tend to come down on one or the other side.
And whereas there is no doubt that running will burn more calories than walking, because it’s more intense and gets your heart rate up more, this doesn’t mean to say no-one should ever walk anywhere.
As some of us know, running can be hard on our legs and feet, especially if we aren’t receiving enough support from our footwear. And even then, unless you’re running on grass, or something sponge-y, you feet are falling heavily on something like a road or sidewalk. And that can lead to sore shins.
Benefits of Walking vs. Running
Yes, you might burn more calories off by running everywhere, but here are the advantages of walking, not running.
It’s Practical – Walking is a mode of transport already. Why not substitute driving to the shop to pick up some milk, with a stroll down there?
The extra weight bearing adds points to your fitness regime remember!
Walking wins every time over running for the small stuff; whereas sprinting the steps at work might raise a few eyebrows, no one’s going to notice a brisk trot.
It’s Easy – Walking is so easy, you don’t even have to think about it. The simplicity of walking puts it in the lead already in the battle to be the best form of everyday exercise.
It’s Relaxing – We know that for many, running releases endorphins, but walking is simply relaxing. You could help more than just your body by taking five or ten minutes out, literally, and getting some air – your mental health could improve, too!
It’s Free – Of course, running itself is free, but running tends to imply the need for running gear and sometimes that can be expensive. Before you know it, you are spending large sums on running shoes and the like.
Not so with walking. Depending on the type of walking you are doing, you may need nothing more than a comfy pair of everyday walking shoes!
It’s Sociable – Despite the undisputed success of group activities such as parkrun, there can be no denying that running is a solitary pursuit.
We’re not knocking it – but running a marathon is serious business and that requires training, discipline and above all, solitude to some degree.
Walking is a lot more sociable, mainly because it fits into your daily routine, you get time to stop and talk and other people are more likely to be at your pace.
In other words, you aren’t darting past all potential human interaction at a hundred miles an hour!
It Gets You Fit – Although walking may never burn as many calories as running, it is a great get fit exercise and can burn as many calories as swimming does – without getting wet!
It Could Get You Fitter Still! – By simply walking faster, you can accelerate your calorie burn considerably. Fast walking or power walking is capable of being equal to running – if you go fast enough, and push yourself.
However, you still have to walk a little faster than jog, in order to burn the same calories, but not by much.
Someone who weighs 150 pounds going 4.5 miles an hour burns the same as someone the same weight jogging at 4 miles an hour.
So, a power walk of 4.5 miles per hour burns almost as many calories as a 4.5 mile jog does and it doesn’t require sweating buckets, or wearing spandex!
Put simply, the faster you go, the nearer to burning off a similar number of calories you get.
Perhaps actual running burns more calories, and if this is your prime aim, then it is worth looking at. But walking is a lower impact exercise and won’t wreak havoc with your knees and shins!
TRY THE CALCULATOR TODAY!
Video – How To Lose Weight Walking or Running
This video by ehowhealth talks about the benefits of interval training vs. steady state cardio. It features personal trainers Billy Beck III and Brian Francis.