How many calories do you burn by walking?
The body uses energy from food and drinks to sustain bodily functions and perform physical activities. Calories are a measure of how much energy the body receives from particular foods or drinks.
When a person consumes more calories than they burn, the body stores this excess energy as body fat. When the body needs more energy than it can get from the calories it consumes, it burns the stored body fat for energy. Regular physical activity is a good way of maintaining a healthy amount of body fat.
While other forms of physical activity can be time-consuming or expensive, walking is convenient and free for people who can do so. This article discusses how to calculate the number of calories the body burns while walking, and some of the other benefits that walking has to offer.
Calories burned while walking
Walking burns calories at different rates depending on a person's body size and walking speed.
The number of calories that the body burns during any activity will depend on a person's basal metabolic rate (BMR) and the intensity of the activity, measured in metabolic equivalents (METs).
The formula for this is:
Calories burned = BMR x METs ÷ 24 x duration of activity in hours
It is possible to use this formula to calculate how many calories the body burns by walking.
To do this, it is first necessary to understand about BMR and METs.
Basal metabolism refers to a series of life-supporting processes that the body constantly carries out, such as breathing. The body burns calories to support these processes. The rate at which the body does this is the BMR.
The BMR varies between people. It is difficult to calculate precisely as it depends on several factors, including genetic factors that are difficult to measure. But it is possible to estimate BMR using sex, body size, and age.
The formulae to estimate BMR for males and females are:
BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds (lbs)) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
METs are a measure of how much energy the body is using for a given activity.
When a person walks, the speed at which they are walking speed will determine the number of METs.
For example, walking at a slow pace of 1.7 miles per hour (mph) equates to 2.3 METs per hour. Walking briskly at a speed of 3 mph equals 3.3 METs per hour.
Making the calculation
Pulling all this information together, it is now possible to calculate how many calories the body burns while walking.
For example, a 40-year-old male who weighs 195 lbs and is 69" (5'9") in height will have a BMR of 1,885.2. If they walk at a brisk pace for 1 hour, they will burn 259.2 calories. This is because:
BMR (1,885.2) x METs (3.3) ÷ 24 x duration of activity in hours (1) = 259.2 calories
Comparison with other types of exercise
Using this formula, it is possible to calculate how many calories the body burns during any activity.
The METs for some other types of exercise are as follows:
|Type of exercise||METs|
|Weight training, 8 to 15 repetitions of various exercises||3.5|
|Cycling, casual pace of up to 10 miles per hour||4|
For example, a 50-year old female who weighs 160 pounds and is 64" (5'4") tall will have a BMR of 1,416.8. If this person jogs for 1 hour, they will burn 413.2 calories.
BMR (1,416.8) x METs (7) ÷ 24 x duration of activity in hours (1) = 413.2 calories
Regularly walking at a brisk pace can lower blood pressure and reduce high cholesterol.
The United States government recommend that healthy adults engage in at least 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of moderate-intensity activity every week. Moderate-intensity activity can include any activity of 3 to 6 METs.
Brisk walking is an excellent way of sticking to these guidelines. Unlike some other types of activity, walking is generally free and accessible to people who are able to do so. It is a relatively low-intensity form of exercise, so it is suitable for people who are unable to engage in more vigorous forms of exercise.
Walking is also easy to fit into a typical day for most people. For example, walking to work or taking a walk during a lunch break for 30 minutes every day will lead to at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week.
Regularly walking at a brisk pace can have many health benefits, including:
- lowering blood pressure
- reducing high cholesterol
- reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes
- strengthening bones and muscles
- improving fitness
In addition to physical health benefits, increasing physical activity through walking may also benefit mental health. Research has found that physical activity could be beneficial for a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
Walking is a beneficial way to burn calories — the amount each person burns depends on their age, sex, and how rapidly they walk. Moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, can provide a range of health benefits.