Congratulations! You’ve finally found that motivation to keep fit and be more aware of the calories you consume and burn. To help you in your weight loss and fitness goals, we’re here to help you understand calories and what it takes to burn more even while doing less strenuous activities like walking.
First, let’s get to know calories first and why they matter in maintaining a healthy and fit body.
Calories come from carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are macronutrients that provide energy. If you follow a diet with balanced supply of macronutrients, your body will get the right amount of energy it needs. Carbs fuel physical and brain activity, proteins help build lean muscles, and fats have the necessary building blocks for healthy cell formation.
If you consume too many calories, expect that you will gain weight because the unnecessary calories will be converted to fat. Note that there is no standard calorific consumption as it varies depending on gender, weight, height, shape, overall health and physical activity demand. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an average adult should consume not less than 1800 calories per day.
If you believe your calorie intake is more than the “best” required for your overall general health, then it’s time to follow a healthy diet and engage in regular exercise.
When choosing a physical activity or exercise, consider one that you truly enjoy so you’re more likely to stick with it. Whether it is water sports or lighter physical activities like jogging or walking, it will work as long as engage in it on a regular basis.
Walking: Your Best Foot Forward
Walking is an excellent form of exercise as it strengthens the bones, heart and lungs, builds aerobic fitness and burns lots of calories. In fact, studies have shown that the Amish who walk more often than most adults in American communities had 87% less chance of suffering from obesity. Also, this low-impact activity does not have the same risk for injury as jogging yet it offers all the benefits the latter provides.
Many favor the slow and steady approach of walking because it is easy to do yet it offers significant health benefits. Health experts recommend a 30-minute daily exercise for at least five days a week and two 15-minute walks (about a mile of somehow leisurely walking) a day is definitely easier to accomplish than having to go the gym.
Walking also does not appear as an exercise for some as you can do it without the necessary preparations most workout routines require. For example, you can simply get off at an earlier bus stop and just walk your way home. You can skip the elevator and use the stairs instead. Walk the dog every morning and you’d be hitting two birds with one stone – exercise for your dog and for your body. These may not sound much but if you do it often but the benefits will add up.
How many calories do you actually burn when walking for a mile?
A group of researchers in Syracuse University did a study to measure the calorie burned while running and walking roughly a mile on a treadmill. The study which involved 12 men and 12 women resulted to an average of 124 calories burned while running and just 88 calories while walking. However, note that an increase in walking speed would dramatically increase the calorie burn per mile. Walk faster and you will be able to burn more calories per mile than running at a slower pace.
To provide a definite answer to this question is quite impossible, however. The claim that an average person burns approximately 100 calories per mile from walking, running, jogging or sprinting isn’t entirely true. These activities differ from each other in terms of intensity and movement so the energy required to perform these activities also vary. Hence, the energy consumed – or the calorie burned – will most likely vary as well.
Research done by diet and fitness experts shows that distance alone cannot really determine the total calories burned. The best determinants of calories burned would be the length of exercise, the speed/intensity you put into the activity, your weight and fitness level.
Check calorie calculators online and see how much calories a 200-pound man would burn in different exercise routines. That man could burn 113 calories walking for 15 minutes for a mile at a pace of 4 miles per hour. If he walks faster at 6 miles per hour, he could burn 151 calories in 10 minutes only. Stroll for a mile at a slower pace of 2 miles per hour and you’ll only burn 113 calories for a 30-minute stroll. A 135-person walking at a pace of 4mph could burn about 78 calories while a 165-person would burn about 96 calories.
Basically, you will burn less calories if your exercise routine requires a lower intensity. But if you exercise for a longer period, with less intensity, you might burn the same total number of calories as doing your routine with the usual force or power. Exercise at a higher intensity and you’re sure to burn more calories per minute.
So if your goal is to burn large amount of calories during your walking routine, walk fast enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. You need a moderate-intensity aerobic activity to burn substantial amount of calories.
Blast Fat with Power Walks
Try to build a walking routine that you can stick to regularly. Your walking pace has to be faster than a stroll for it to be truly effective. While leisurely walking will also burn calories, walking with moderate-intensity would appear more beneficial and time-effective. You can begin by walking slowly then gradually increasing your pace. You can also break up such activity into 10-minute walks and slowly build it up to a 30-minute walk once you feel comfortable.
Change routes or do it regularly with a friend so you won’t get bored. Change your pace and you’re your walk varied by walking up hills, and doing sprints from time to time. Why not track your walking progress and be surprised by how much walking, and burning calories, you are doing. The best thing about walking is that it’s an activity that allows modifications on your call. Walk solo, bring a dog or a friend, sprint now or walk slow later, walk around the village or on the park, prefer night walks over morning walks –your call. Just make it a habit and you’re sure to see great results.
Calories burned doing other activities
If you wish to lose weight faster, eat healthier and combine walking with other calorie-burning activities.
Running actually burns 50 % more calories per mile than walking. To give you a glimpse of the amount of calories burned when doing other activities aside from walking, check the table below. Note that the calculation was based on a 1-hour activity and differentiated according to various body weights. These calculations are based on the data from the American College of Sports Medicine journals and the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise research.
|Activity done in an hour (exercise or sports)||130 lb||180 lb||205 lb|
|Leisure cycling, <10 mph||236||327||372|
|Race cycling, very fast 16-19 mph||708||981||1117|
|Stationary cycling, moderate speed||413||572||651|
|Circuit training with minimal rest||472||654||745|
|Running, 5 mph (12 min)||472||654||745|
|Running, 9 mph (6.5 min)||885||1226||1396|
|Walking the dog||177||245||279|
|Walking slow at 2 mph||177||245||279|
|Brisk walking, 3.5 mph||224||311||354|
|Walking uphill, 3.5 mph||354||490||558|
In essence, activities that require more intensity are the more time-efficient workout. But given that not all of us are fit enough to commit to strenuous exercise, it is okay that we engage in moderate aerobic activity. Light physical activities are still encouraged as it helps promote circulation. What is important is our commitment to exercise regularly so it becomes a habit. A less sedentary lifestyle can greatly improve our overall fitness level and health condition.
It is also important to remember that calories burned in exercise aren’t enough to help you ultimately achieve your weight loss goals. There should still be a balance of calories from the food you eat and the calories you burn each day. Take advantage of the free calorie calculators available online like ShapeSense’s Walking Calorie Burn Calculator. Such and many other free online calorie counter can help you compute your caloric intake every day and the amount you burn with the daily activities you do. If you make a conscious effort in reducing your calorie consumption and spending more time on your feet, you’ll be surprised by the sudden achievement of your fitness goals.