How many calories can you burn walking?

How many calories can you burn walking, is a question that has frequently popped into my head for pretty much any walk that exceeds more than 5 minutes (and it can’t be just me that thinks that, right?!)

So, with that in mind, lets dive into the number of calories that walking does burn, along with the other benefits that you can derive from it.

Calories burned

As a quick experiment with my Garmin watch, I went out and walked at what I would personally describe as a quick but leisurely pace, not near to breaking a sweat but not plodding either. This resulted in me clocking up a mile in 18:29 and burning 107 calories in the process. My stats are that I weigh 78kg (171 lbs) and am 185cm tall ( just under 6ft 1″). For context Google Maps estimates walking times based on an average walking speed of 3.1 miles per hour (5 kilometers per hour), so I was a little quicker than what Google would have predicted on the route that I took, but that’s no big surprise as personally I have always found Google Maps to be a little on the slow side.

Anyway, with regards to the calories one thing that is worth noting is that Garmin actually break things down a little further, and in fact the amount of calories that I burned from the walk itself was 79, with the other 28 just being the amount I was burning via the rest of my bodily functions i.e my metabolism.

Now my experiment wasn’t perfect, far from laboratory conditions, but it gives a useful indication as to how many calories you can burn, and Harvard Medical School posted similar findings. Now my experiment wasn’t perfect, far from laboratory conditions, but it gives a useful indication as to how many calories you can burn, and Harvard Medical School posted similar findings. They report that for a person walking at 3.5 mph (17 min/mile) they would burn 107, 133, or 159 calories were they to weigh 56.6kg (125lb) 70.3kg (155lb) or 83.9kg (185lb) respectively. If you really put your foot down, think power walking to reach the train/bus/pub before it closes at were to walk at 4 mph (15 min/mile) you would burn 135, 175, 189 calories at those respective weights.

Walking for weigh loss

So with those figures in mind, is walking for weigh loss a good strategy? Yes…and No. Let’s examine both sides of the argument.

Yes

  • Calorie Burn – As mentioned, it can burn calories and help contribute to a calorie deficit, which in turn can lead to weighPeople walking outdoors loss
  • Anyone can do it -It’s super easy to perform
  • Minimal set up – Aside from clothing and shoes, walking requires zero equipment or investment
  • When to do it? Anytime that suits you!
  • Where? Pretty much anywhere, just avoid the motorway..
  • We Jammin – The experience can be enhanced (depending on your definition of enhanced) by listening to music/podcasts/audiobooks
  • It’s a social activity – either with a friend/partner, or more proactively by joining a walking club

No

  • Ok, there really isn’t any downside to using walking for weigh loss per se, except that it needs to be part of bigger overall strategy, as using it in isolation may not be the most optimal way to produce results. As a rough generalised guide, the advice to lose weigh is to create a 500 calorie daily deficit. So with that in mind, and referring back to my own experiment, I would need to walk for nearly 1.5 hours a day to hit the 500 calorie target. While this is achievable in the short term, for me (and I’d imagine a lot of you reading this) carving out an hour and a half each day purely for walking may be challenging. I would prefer to divide that time up and use some of it for resistance training due to its numerous benefits (though walking does have other health benefits too, as detailed below) or to prepare food, as the “easiest” way to reduce your calorie intake is simply not to consume those 500 calories in the first place, and by preparing your food you help to eliminate poor food choices from happening in the first place.

Other health benefits of walking

  • Improves your cardiovascular health
  • Bone health and density is greatly improved; particularly useful tool in fighting the effects that come with menopause
  • Can lower the chances of heart disease
  • Helps to improve overall sleep quality
  • The growing body of research suggests that it can help with mental health, and boosting your overall mood
  • It can help to lower the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease

Rucking

Rucking has its roots in the military and armed services, being the practice of going on long marches while wearing a weighted backpack or rucksack. It’s a way of supercharging your walking and taking it to the next level. There doesn’t seem to be any consensus on how many extra calories you can burn from it, in part because it depends on how much weight you carry relative to your own weight but there are various claims that it can burn up to 50% more than walking, giving you almost the same calorie burn as running but without, well running.

9kg or 20lbs is a good weigh to start with, which you can slowly increase (should you want/need to) before getting up to the big boy standard of the SAS with there 55 pounders. Gulp.

Conclusion

  • A very brisk walk (15 min/mile) can burn up to 189 calories for an 83.9kg (185lb) person
  • Additional calories can be burnt by wearing a weigh ruck sack, an activity commonly known as rucking
  • Due to it’s ease of performance walking is a good tool for weigh loss, but should form part of an overall strategy to create a calorie deficit rather than being used as the only tactic
  • Walking has numerous other benefits, including the prevention of chronic diseases

Final thoughts

Have you personally tried rucking? What was your experience of it? If you haven’t is it something you would consider trying?

As ever, I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Thanks for reading.

Papers referenced

Walking – The first steps in cardiovascular disease prevention

Effects of Walking Speed on Total and Regional Body Fat in Healthy Postmenopausal Women

Walking can burn more calories than jogging

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