How many calories are burned by walking a mile? The quick answer is that you should be able to burn off a Snickers bar, about a third of a large Starbucks latte, or some of your light brunch. However, the answer isn’t that simple.
The number of calories you burn by walking a mile primarily depends on your weight and the speed of walking. Your metabolism and overall health play a part as well and this article assumes that you’re in perfect health and have a normal metabolism.
With this in mind, you’ll get a better understanding of the calorie-burning mechanism and the exact numbers. Plus, there are some tips on how to maximize your efforts.
Calories and Metabolism – How Do They Work?
For starters, it’s important to define metabolism. This is a process during which your body transforms foods and drinks into energy, but how do calories fit in?
As you already know, foods and beverages contain calories. After eating or drinking, your body triggers a complex biochemical mechanism to take advantage of the ingested calories. It combines the calories with oxygen to provide the energy you need.
It’s worth noting that your body needs energy for processes other than physical activities. In fact, calories are necessary to keep optimal hormone levels, respiration, the growth or reparation of cells, circulation of blood, etc.
Your body burns a specific number of calories to support these basic functions – this is called the basal metabolic rate. In other words, the process most people think of when they refer to metabolism. As indicated, there are several factors that affect metabolism.
- Composition and body size – Those who have more muscles or are larger burn off more calories. This applies even when they rest.
- Gender – As a rule, men have more muscle and less fat, so they burn more calories. To rephrase, a woman of the same weight and age would usually burn less.
- Age – Muscle mass lowers as you grow older. This means there’s more fat in your body which decreases the number of calories your body burns.
Things to Consider
The energy your body needs for basic functions remains pretty consistently throughout your life. And there are two more factors that affect the number of burned calories per day:
- Thermogenesis – This is actually the mechanism of food processing. The foods you consume need to be digested, absorbed, transported, and stored in your body – all this requires calories. For example, about 10% of the calories you get from protein and carbs are used up to digest and absorb the nutrients.
- Physical Activities – Needless to say, chasing your canine friend, playing sports, as well as pumping iron add to the calories you burn.
While thermogenesis is also pretty consistent, physical activities are the most variable aspect of the calorie-burning process. To understand how walking fits the bill, you need to grasp the concept of NEAT.
Have a NEAT Walking Routine
NEAT is the abbreviation for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. To put it simply, NEAT is the calorie-burning activity you take without the intention to burn calories or exercise.
By nature, walking and commuting on foot are that kind of activity and the same goes for sleeping, typing, gardening, etc. The important thing is that NEAT activities can burn between 100 and 800 calories a day.
It’s not hard to guess – the more you walk, the more calories you shed – but how many calories are burned by walking a mile?
Walk, Forest, Walk
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, the average male weight in the U.S. is 197.6 pounds. The same study indicates that women in the U.S. weigh 170.6 pounds on average. The research was conducted on healthy subjects who are twenty or older.
Given the stats, a healthy adult male should burn between 96 and 106 calories by walking a mile. For women, the numbers fall between 74 and 90 calories for the same distance. Of course, speed plays an important role and the average pace to shed this number of calories should be between 2.5 and 3.5 mph. But what happens if you start walking just a little bit faster?
Feel the Need for Speed
For every 0.5 mph, the calorie consumption may increase by 15% or more. For example, men who walk at 4.5 mph stand a chance of burning between 115 and 127 calories a mile. Women, on the other hand, are looking at between 95 and 109 calories at the same pace.
The number also jumps at 10 to 15% increments for every additional mile you walk after the first one. That said, the biggest spike happens in the second mile. Women who walk two miles may shed between 155 and 175 calories at the 2.5 mph to 3.5 mph pace, almost double the initial amount.
The principle is all the same for men, but what’s the moral of the story? By moving a bit faster and a bit further, you may turn walking into a non-NEAT activity. That is, you can deliberately push your body to use more calories without actually exercising.
How to Up the Ante?
There are a few tricks to increase the number of burned calories, assuming you don’t want to walk for more than a mile. By now, it should be obvious that the first thing to do is walk a little bit faster.
If you’re struggling to calculate the walking speed, feel free to utilize smartphone health apps that track your movement. Wearable activity trackers also help, especially if you are looking to shed off excess weight, but this is only a part of the story.
The trick is to make your body burn more without increasing the speed or distance. To achieve this, you need to heighten the intensity of your walking routine. It means you’d deliberately walk steep inclines, hills, or flights of stairs. What’s more, walking down the stairs or hills may also yield better results.
The rule of thumb is – any factor that puts you muscles into an overdrive helps you burn more calories.
A Brisk Walk to Everywhere
So, how many calories are burned by walking a mile? People burn between 74 and 106 calories every mile at an average pace of 2.5 mph to 3.5 mph. And if you weigh more than average or are prone to walk faster, you’re likely to burn much more.
Be it as it may, don’t take the easy way and drive all the way to work. Leave your car at a parking lot and walk the last mile, you’d be surprised at how good it feels.