How many calories do you burn walking a mile?

If you are just starting out, walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is. It is easy to do, doesn’t require any equipment (apart from a good pair of shoes) and is low impact. It is generally recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise 4 times a week, which makes walking the perfect option.

A calorie is a unit of energy. You introduce calories into your body from the food that you eat and you use them up naturally during the day, and when you exercise. The number of calories that you will burn walking a mile depends on various factors. These include:

  • Your weight –  the heavier you are, the more calories you burn. This is because larger people require more energy to move their bodies. So with all other factors being equal, a 200 pound man will burn more calories walking one mile compared to a 140 pound man.
  • Walking speed – the faster you walk, the more calories you burn. As exercise intensity increases, more energy is required.
  • Walking gradient – walking up a steep hill will also require more effort than walking on a flat surface, which means more calories will be burned.

On average, walking one mile will take roughly 12 – 30 minutes to complete, so you can burn anywhere from 50 to 220 calories. It is difficult to provide a pinpoint estimate due to the 3 factors mentioned above, however an average estimate would be 100 calories per mile.

A very general formula that is used to calculate how many calories you burn walking a mile is:

your weight in pounds x 2 / 3.5 – so a person who weighs 200 pounds would therefore burn 114 calories after walking 1 mile.

You can use an activity tracker such as a Fitbit, or smartphone applications such as Strava to get a more accurate estimate of the number of calories you are burning.

Can you lose weight by walking?

Your main objective when it comes to losing weight should be to burn fat whilst retaining muscle. Walking may help you to achieve this.

Going for a 5 mile walk everyday could effectively mean you lose around 3 – 4 pounds of fat in a month (provided that you don’t overeat of course). The more regularly you walk, the faster your endurance will increase, which means that with time you will be able to walk longer distances at faster speeds and therefore lose even more weight.

Exercise is important when it comes to weight loss but your diet plays a bigger role. If you don’t eat well, no amount of exercise will help you to lose weight. However when you are eating correctly, exercise can help increase your daily net calorie deficit.

For example, if you consume 300 fewer calories than your body requires and also go for a 2 mile walk everyday, that would be a net deficit of around 500 calories.

Here are some tips to help you lose as much weight as possible from walking:

  • Get a good pair of shoes – being comfortable when you walk is important. Walking in the incorrect shoes can result in blisters, pain in the sole of your foot and knee injuries. If a pair of shoes is more expensive it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good fit. Walking shoes should be lightweight and comfortable to wear. Try out a number of different shoes to see which one feels the best. The more comfortable the shoe, the easier and faster you will be able to walk.
  • Challenge yourself – if you are already a regular walker, start challenging yourself to walk a mile within a set amount of time. Once you reach that goal, set a new challenge. Instead of walking on a flat surface all the time, try to walk up a hill every so often. You could also start carrying a pair of dumbbells with you as you walk – this will help to burn more calories whilst at the same time adding in some resistance training, which is important for maintaining muscle mass.
  • Eat well and drink enough water – being well hydrated is important because it helps with weight loss so whenever you go for a walk, carry a bottle of water with you and take regular sips.  A protein and fiber rich diet also naturally burns more calories. You should eat more vegetables, fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts and seeds whilst cutting back on, or completely eliminating processed carbohydrates.
  • Don’t quit – weight loss is not a linear process, so if you don’t see results in a few days, don’t be disheartened. Stick with walking for at least a month and you will begin to notice the changes in your body.
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