More calories are burned per mile at very low speeds because momentum isn’t carrying you along. In fact, you are stopping and starting with each step. At very high speeds, you use more muscle groups that burn extra calories with each step. However, at higher walking speeds, more muscle groups are being used, including arm swimming motion and often with a race-walking stride. All those extra in-use muscles burn up extra calories with each step. If you break into a run, more calories per mile are burned, because there is an up and down motion used in lifting your body weight off the ground while moving it forward.

Unfortunately, the charts and calculators around the internet vary widely in their calorie-burning data and the weights listed and it is unknown where most of them get their data. Calories burned come from a formula based on your metabolic rate, fitness level and weight, and there is no one-size-fits-all chart. Your weight may not be exactly what is shown in the charts, but if you fall between categories, you can at least get a general idea of calories burned.

Walking for 1 hour 130 lb 155 lb 180 lb 205 lb
under 2.0 mph, very slow 118 141 163 186
2.0 mph, slow 148 176 204 233
2.5 mph 177 211 245 279
3.0 mph, moderate 195 232 270 307
3.5 mph, brisk pace 224 267 311 354
3.5 mph, uphill 354 422 490 558
4.0 mph, very brisk 295 352 409 465
4.5 mph 372 443 515 586
5.0 mph 472 563 654 745

Other Walking Activities

Activities for 1 hour 130 lb 155 lb 180 lb 205 lb
Orienteering 531 633 735 838
Backpacking, Hiking with pack 413 492 572 651
Hiking, cross country 354 422 490 558
Carrying infant, level ground 207 246 286 326
Carrying infant, upstairs 295 352 409 465
Carrying 16 to 24 lbs, upstairs 354 422 490 558
Carrying 25 to 49 lbs, upstairs 472 563 654 745
Walk/run, playing with children, moderate 236 281 327 372
Walk/run, playing with children, vigorous 295 352 409 465
Loading, unloading car 177 211 245 279
Walking downstairs 177 211 245 279
Bird watching 148 176 204 233
Marching, rapidly, military 384 457 531 605
Pushing stroller or walking with children 148 176 204 233
Pushing a wheelchair 236 281 327 372
Race walking 384 457 531 605
Walking using crutches 295 352 409 465
Walking the dog 177 211 245 279
Walk / run, playing with animals 236 281 327 372

Just 30 minutes of brisk walking per day, five days a week…

  • …can significantly lower your risk of stroke. Those with increased fitness levels associated with regular brisk walking had a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack. They have lower blood pressure and higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol than the car drivers and couch potatoes do.
  • …lowers the risk for developing type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity in your muscles. This allows glucose to work properly inside the cells rather than build up in your bloodstream. Insulin resistance is a predictor of this disease, even in people with normal glucose levels.
  • …can make quitting smoking successful. Even just 5-minutes of walking cuts down on cravings for cigarettes by releasing mood-enhancing hormones that decrease cravings and take your mind off that cigarette. And the ability to stick with a walking plan proves that you have the discipline to stick with a smoking cessation plan.
  • … can also help curb cravings for chocolate. OK, so that’s a negative benefit for some people, unless you are trying to lose weight and chocolate bars keep calling you by name.

Other Health Benefits of Walking

  • Walking can help you burn more calories than you eat, and that can slim you down. It also helps to curb appetite. Though don’t go overboard on this concept. You DO need to eat to maintain proper body functioning.
  • Walking regularly can lower your risk of arthritis, macular degeneration, and even cancer by an astonishing 50% compared with people who don’t exercise.
  • Walking can improve balance and coordination by building strength in your lower body which can prevent future injury due to increased stability.
  • Walking can improve your sex life. In one study of women between the ages of 45 and 55 years old, those who engaged in brisk walking, reported greater sexual desire, and better sexual satisfaction, too.
  • Walkers who take very long walks, rather than simply accumulating mileage during week, are more likely to use less medication. Keep taking your daily walks, but add an especially long one when you have more time.
  • Walking can lessen fibromyalgia pain according to one study of women from 32 to 70 years old who walked 60 minutes, with some light exercise and stretching three times a week for 18 weeks. They showed significant improvement in mobility, mental capacity, fatigue and depression.
  • Walking can help relieve arthritis pain and allow the cartilage to regrow by pumping the synovial fluid through the cartilage. Just make sure you are not taking any painkillers, particularly of the NSAID group, which are known to prevent cartilage regrowth.
  • Walking can increase the odds of survival for breast cancer patients.
  • Walking is beneficial to your mood and may even ward off depression and anxiety. It also helps with relieving the stress that often leads to overeating.
  • Walking nourishes and builds brain tissues and stimulates the production of neurons, synapses, and blood vessels and can aid people with failing memories over age 50. A brisk walking habit has a 27 percent lower risk of developing dementia due to increasing oxygenation of the blood as well as increasing blood flow to the brain. Next time you feel like you are losing your mind, go for a brisk walk to save your mind.
  • Walking helps improve the quality of sleep, so that the body can get the healing and body-repair time it needs to keep your metabolism running smoothly. With better sleep, you are also more energetic all day long.

The simplest single best thing you can do for your health is get up off the couch and put one foot in front of the other. Walking is that simple best thing. We all know how to walk, yet few of us do it, preferring to drive that 3 blocks to the ice cream shop instead of walk. But walking, like running, even short walks can leave you feeling energized, more focused, happier, can improve your overall health, and even makes you younger. Yes, in as little as 90 days, the age-reduction effects of walking can actually be measured. It allows you to talk with friends along the way and even meet new people. While walking alone, you can use the time to think of solutions to problems, listen to that audio book, learn a language, or just get familiar with your neighborhood.

No matter where you live, there’s a place you can go walking. It may be park trail, a school track, along the beach, a sidewalk around the town, your own backyard, back and forth down a long hallway, or the local mall. Wherever people are allowed to be, you can walk there.

And walking has the highest compliance rate of any prescribed exercise because it is so easy to do anywhere, and requires no training or special equipment. You can even walk barefoot, though most people do wear walking shoes to prevent injury.

Lately, research has been paying attention to taking 10,000 steps of walking, jogging, or running per day. A 40-minute, two-mile walk will cover half of those steps, while the everyday routines can generally fill in the other half. Surprised? Wear a pedometer, and see for yourself how much walking you do just by being you.

In terms of actual measurements, moderate walking is defined as an average of 100 steps per minute. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity walking during the week (or just 30 minutes a day for 5 days) helps manage stress, prevents heart disease and gives you a lot of the benefits listed below. Researchers at San Diego State University suggest aiming for 1,000 steps in 10 minutes, and working up to 3,000 steps in 30 minutes or more.

The list of benefits below are only a handful of what walking can offer and when you make it a regular habit, the rewards are long-term.

One interesting aspect about regular walking is that older adults are at an increased risk of falling, so backward walking, sideways walking, heel walking, and toe walking may be beneficial for balance and muscular stability.

Yes, you can walk backwards!

Also known as “retro walking” or “backward walking”, walking backwards for exercise originated in ancient China and is all the rage in Japan and some parts of Europe now. It increases the heart rate by 17% to 20% when compared to walking forward at the same speed. It is claimed to burn 30% more calories.

Because walking backwards eliminates the usual heel-strike when the foot hits the ground and lets the toes contact the ground first, it can cause changes in pelvic alignment that help open up joints in your spine that potentially alleviate the pressure cause low back pain in some people. This also puts less pressure on the knees and ankles, also, and can be beneficial for post-surgical knee joint rehabilitation, sprained ankles, Achilles tendon tears or shin splints. People with pain who have tried everything from ibuprofen, ice or heat treatments, time off from training, physical therapy or stretching without results may benefit from walking backwards.

To see if walking backwards may be useful to you, just take 10 steps forward and nine steps back and check for discomfort. Then find a flat area that is free of obstacles and walk backwards for about 20 to 30 yards. With practice you can try walking backwards up a small hill. If you are outside though, beware of uneven pavement, and other obstacles you can’t see. Better yet, walk with a friend who is walking forward, and switch direction periodically to watch out for each other.

You can also walk backwards using a treadmill, but use a slower speed such as one mile per hour, and stay alert to the emergency stop button. Only increase your speed and incline when you feel comfortable. Another useful trick is to use a backward motion when using an elliptical machine.

If you walk backward for any length of time your shoes will get more wear and need to be replaced more often, since you are landing on sections of the sole that were not designed to take high amounts of wear.

NOTE: No matter which direction you choose, do not go for a walk immediately after a meal because this makes it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients from the food. That is the reason for the old adage “wait an hour after eating before going swimming” and it applies to all physical activities.

Health Benefits of Walking Backwards

  • Walking backwards sharpens your thought processes and enhances cognitive control because it is also a “neurobic” activity, meaning it requires brain activity and may help you keep mentally sharp. Since you are moving in an unfamiliar way, it puts your senses into overdrive, and is also known to enhance vision, especially peripheral vision, as well as hearing.
  • Walking backwards allows you to work all the leg muscles, such as the quadriceps and calves, which usually are not worked as much as the hamstrings and glutes when walking forward. It also works the hamstrings in a different way, and just 10-15 minutes, four days a week for four weeks has been shown to increase hamstring flexibility.

By the way, walking up stairs is the best form of walking when trying to burn extra calories, and the second best way is walking backwards.