Find Out How Many Calories You Can Burn While Walking One Mile
“Take a walk!” might not be the warmest phrase to catch on the receiving end. But maybe it could and should be reframed to a term of endearment thanks to the calorie burn and other perks walking offers.
So, “take a walk” with us as we explore, “How many calories does walking a mile burn?” As we near the finish line, you might even start to appreciate what walking can do for you beyond burning calories!
How Many Calories Does Walking Burn?
According to a 2021 Harvard Health review1, a 125-pound person burns 107 calories while walking at a 3.5 miles per hour (mph) pace for 30 minutes. If that same person increases their speed to 4 mph, they’ll burn about 135 calories during the 30-minute walk.
However, someone who weighs 155 pounds might burn 133 calories during a 30-minute walk at a 3.5 mph pace. Increasing the pace to 4 mph results in 175 calories burned.
The same differences are reflected when walking a mile, especially since many factors influence calories burned while walking.
How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking A Mile?
Again, it depends. As you will likely quickly learn and notice, many factors impact the number of calories burned while walking.
But let’s not complicate things just yet!
To determine the average calories burned walking a mile, three different metrics were plugged into Cornell University’s METS to Calories Calculator, including MET values, walking time, and weight:
- METs, abbreviated as metabolic equivalents, help measure energy expenditure by assigning activities with a numerical value based on intensity. We selected MET values in the Compendium of Physical Activity based on common walking speeds.
- Walking time reflects how long it takes to walk a mile at a given pace, such as walking at a 3.0 mph pace would equate to a 20-minute mile.
- Because body weights vary greatly, we used the average male weight of 199.8 pounds and female weight of 170.8 pounds according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)2.
To keep other factors as consistent as possible, all calculations are based on walking on a firm surface, such as pavement, as well.
|Pace||Time||MET Value||Male Calories Burned |
(based on 199.8 lbs)
|Female Calories Burned |
(based on 170.8 lbs)
|Moderate pace at 3.0 mph||20-minute mile||3.5||106||90.6|
|Brisk pace at 3.5 mph||17-minute mile||4.3||110.6||94.6|
|Very brisk pace at 4.0 mph||15-minute mile||5.0||113.5||97.0|
Calories Burned While Walking Charts
Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 2.5 to 3.5 MPH (17 to 24 Minutes Per Mile)
|Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 2.5 to 3.5 MPH|
Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 4.0 MPH (About 15 Minutes Per Mile)
|Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 4.0 MPH (About 15 Minutes Per Mile)|
Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 4.5 MPH (About 13 Minutes Per Mile)
|Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 4.5 MPH (About 13 Minutes Per Mile)|
Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 5.0 MPH (About 12 Minutes Per Mile)
|Calories Burned While Walking at a Pace of 5.0 MPH (About 12 Minutes Per Mile)|
Factors That Affect Calories Burned While Walking
Many factors affect calories burned while walking, including personal factors and ones related to the walk itself. These factors consider body size and body composition, as well as the duration and pace of the walk.
Body Size and Body Composition
A 2014 review published in the Frontiers in Nutrition3 suggests body size and body composition impact basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total energy expenditure (TEE). Because bigger individuals have more body tissue, or simply weigh more, the more calories they will generally burn.
For example, based on the calculations above, someone who weighs almost 171 pounds burns about 91 calories while walking 1 mile at a 3.0 miles per hour. Someone weighing almost 200 pounds burns about 106 calories walking 1 mile at the same 3.0 miles per hour pace. The calculation does not give credit to body composition, though.
The 2014 review3 also suggests body composition, or the proportion of fat and muscle someone has, significantly impacts energy expenditure. Adipose tissue, or fat cells, expend less energy than skeletal muscle. What this means is that if two people each weigh 200 pounds, the one with more muscle mass will likely burn more calories.
Biological Gender and Age
While the Cornell University’s METS to Calories Calculator does not consider biological age and gender, each greatly impacts calorie burn. This is mostly due to differences in their body size and composition.
According to a ScienceDirect4 overview, womens’ metabolic rate is about 5 to 10% lower than mens’ — even when they are of the same body weight and height. This stresses how body composition impacts energy expenditure, as women tend to carry more body fat and less skeletal muscle than men.
Changing body composition is also the largest physiological factor as you get older. Muscle mass gradually declines with age4, particularly in physically inactive people, which naturally lowers energy expenditure.
What’s interesting, though, is that a 2010 meta-analysis in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences5 suggests that studies have not found consistent differences in walking energy expenditure between adults based on age and gender. Some results show females have higher energy expenditure values than males at varying walking speeds, which may be explained by taking more steps due to shorter stride lengths.
Walking Duration, Pace, and Intensity
The longer you’re actively moving your body, generally the more calories your body burns. So the longer a walk you take, the more calories you can generally expect to burn.
Increasing the intensity, including by increasing the pace, also influences calorie burn. Based on the chart above, incrementally increasing the pace increases the number of calories burned.
Along with walking pace, walking on an incline can increase intensity and calorie burn. Using Cornell’s calculator, a 200-pound individual will burn about 240 calories in 30 minutes by walking up a hill with a 1 to 5% grade. This is about 80 extra calories burned compared to if they walked on a firm surface at a moderate pace for the same amount of time.
You can increase the intensity of a workout by adding resistance, too. Someone who pushes or pulls a stroller for 30 minutes expends about 181 calories. If that same person climbed a hill with 10 to 20 pounds for 30 minutes, they could burn around 330 calories.
How Can I Burn More Calories While Walking?
First and foremost, know that walking is much more than counting calories burned on your fitness tracker! As you’ll find out in the upcoming sections, walking is a great form of exercise with countless health perks.
Rest assured, though, you can increase calorie burn using various tactics. Some tips don’t require extra equipment, while others do, so choose what works best for your fitness goals and training environment.
Walk Longer and/or More Often
Because walking longer often leads to greater calorie burn, try increasing the duration of your walks. For instance, if you currently walk 20 minutes each day, increase the time to 25 minutes the following week. As your body acclimates to longer walks, gradually increase your walking time.
However, the amount of time needed to walk longer is not always the most suitable and efficient option. Fortunately, splitting up your exercise still provides big benefits such as taking two shorter walks per day over one long one.
Kick Up the Intensity
Intensity greatly impacts how many calories you burn while walking, so try kicking your workouts up a notch. You can increase the intensity by picking up the pace and/or walking on an incline, including on the treadmill or up a hill.
Carrying or pushing weight can also increase the intensity of your walk. This could be by pushing your little one in a stroller or wearing a weighted vest or backpack.
Please note it’s important to add weight or resistance to your walks carefully and with caution. Carrying too much weight or disproportionally distributing the weight on your body can lead to muscle imbalances or postural deviations, and subsequent injury.
Overall, the way in which you increase the intensity will vary based on your current fitness level. Someone just beginning their walking journey will have different paces and intensities compared to someone with many walking years under their belt.
Incorporate Resistance Training
This walking tip is more of a long-term investment, but the payoff is well worth it! Because people with more muscle tend to burn more calories, it can be helpful to incorporate resistance training into your fitness routine.
In addition to increasing muscle mass and metabolism over time, resistance training can enhance your strength to power through more intense and longer workouts.
Resistance training is important but not as important as doing so safely! Especially if new to resistance training, consider working with a certified personal trainer (CPT).
Can Walking Help You Lose Weight?
While fitness is and should be much more than a weight-loss tactic, people often turn to exercise in hopes to burn calories and lose weight. In fact, the CDC6 reports that 62.9% of adults trying to lose weight used exercise as a weight-loss method.
The adults might’ve taken the weight loss advice to “Eat less and move more” to heart… The same percentage of adults reported “eating less” as a common weight loss method!
For true fat loss and health benefits, combining the two tactics yields the best results. Based on a 2007 meta-analysis in the Journal of American Dietetic Association7, exercise alone leads to minimal weight loss.
A more recent 2014 meta-analysis in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics8 suggests programs based on physical activity alone are less effective than combined behavioral weight management programs (BWMPs) in both the short and long-term. Taken together, this reiterates the fact losing body fat relies on sustainable behavior changes.
How Long Should You Walk To Lose Weight?
The American College of Sports Medicine9 recommends 200 to 300 minutes of exercise per week to facilitate long-term weight management. This amounts to a little less than 45 minutes per day on the high end and 5 hours total each week.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans10, people who want to lose more than 5% of body weight need more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to meet their goals. Those who lost a significant amount of weight and are trying to keep it off might need more than 300 minutes each week, too.
How Can I Increase My Walking Speed?
Increasing walking speed helps you burn more calories, create efficiencies in your workouts, and support cardiovascular health, amongst many other health benefits.
According to a ScienceDirect11 review, numerous factors influence walking speed such as joint mobility and muscle strength. Doubling down and improving on these factors can help improve and increase your walking speed.
Ensure Proper Fitting Shoes
Before lacing up those walking shoes, it’s important to make sure they properly fit. Poor-fitting shoes can not only slow down your walking speed but increase the risk of injury— which can upsettingly slow you down even more!
While there are various shoes for different types of training, walking is a bit more flexible in terms of what and how to choose. Overall, find a shoe that is supportive, durable, and comfortable.
Your shoe should ideally suit your unique body needs and preferred training styles. For instance, some people want to run and walk in their athletic shoes, so it’s important the shoe will withstand higher impact.
If you’re unsure how to pick the best shoe for you, consider visiting a local shoe store. Their shoe-fitting experts can help you find a shoe to best fit your personal needs and fitness goals.
Evaluate Your Walking Technique and Baseline
Walking seems like an effortless and thoughtless movement, although it’s much more than placing one foot in front of the other. What’s more, your walking technique can greatly impact your walking power and speed!
So before you consider walking longer and faster, ensure your walking technique is mastered and perfected. Even subtle tweaks, like being more aware of your stride length, can help you pick up the pace more naturally.
Also determine your current fitness level by seeing how fast you can walk a mile, the ground you can cover in 10 minutes, and other speed metrics you’re wanting to improve on. After determining your walking baselines, challenge yourself to beat those times, distances, etc.
Increase Pace Slowly and Consistently
Of course having big goals is great, but doing too much too fast can lead to burnout, injury, and ultimately take you out of the game. We don’t want that to happen!
To keep your body strong and on track, increase your pace slowly to allow your body to the changes you’re placing on it. For instance, if you currently walk a mile in 20 minutes, aim for 19 minutes the following week, and so on.
As you start getting comfortable with your faster walking paces, consider incorporating jogging and walking intervals. Be sure to increase the pace consistently, as consistency is key when it comes to getting real and lasting results.
If you struggle with staying consistent, we have you covered with many motivating tactics! Joining and participating in a walking challenge can keep you accountable, motivated, and consistent. Walking with your pup or a loved love can also be helpful, as well as making a daily checklist to cross off.
Incorporate Mobility, Balance, and Resistance Training
Because mobility, balance, and strength all impact walking speed, including these sorts of training can be helpful. What’s more, mobility, balance, and resistance training should be a part of a well-rounded fitness routine to augment fall injuries, osteoporosis, and other health risks further down the road.
You can improve mobility in the comfort of home and practice balance with balance products. For additional guidance, a certified personal trainer can help you start mobility, balance, and resistance training routines.
Maximize Your Energy Levels
Energy can influence your walking speed, so it’s wise to maximize your energy levels. (It’s tough to motivate yourself to walk when hungry and sleepy, much less beat a walking personal record!)
Ensure your body is properly fueled, particularly with lean protein, fiber, and healthy fat sources. The balance of nutrients also aids in exercise recovery and benefits the body in other countless ways.
You can likewise maximize your energy by getting a restful night’s sleep and exercising when feeling the most energized. For some, the morning is prime exercise time while night owls might score that PR when the moon shines.
Is Walking Good Exercise?
Any exercise is great exercise and better than going without! Walking is also one of the most accessible forms of exercise— it’s essentially free of charge, requires no equipment except clothes and shoes, and can be done just about anywhere.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans10 suggests regular exercise, walking included, can benefit just about anyone. Research shows regular physical activity can:
- Reduce blood pressure and total cholesterol levels
- Improve sleep
- Decrease feelings of anxiety and depressive symptoms
- Increase cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength
- Delay or prevent chronic diseases, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers
- Encourage independence
- Improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control
How Much Walking Is “Good?”
According to a 2020 systematic review published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity14, walking an additional 1,000 steps per day can help lower the risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular morbidity/mortality in adults. Health benefits are present below 10,000 steps per day as well.
Another 2023 meta-analysis in Lancet Public Health15 shows the risk of premature death levels off at about 6,000-8,000 steps per day in older adults, meaning more steps might not offer additional benefit for longevity. Adults younger than 60 saw the risk of premature death stabilize at about 8,000-10,000 steps per day.
For substantial health benefits, the Physical Activity Guidelines10 recommends:
- 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, including a brisk walk
- 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
- An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
The guidelines further hint additional health benefits are gained by engaging in 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
The time dedicated to physical activity may seem like a lot, though the guidelines encourage spreading aerobic activity throughout the week. And when you put these numbers into perspective, the minimum 2.5-hour general recommendation is less than 1.5 percent of your total week (while gaining tremendous benefit)!
Is Running or Walking Better?
If you don’t actively seek out that so-called “runner’s high,” you might be crossing your fingers and hoping walking is the better choice. But what’s awarded “better” is not so straightforward, although we can help you decide if running or walking is better for you.
Better for Injury Recovery And Pain: Walking
Walking is one of the best low-impact exercises almost anyone can enjoy, including beginners, seasoned brisk walkers, and older adults. However, low-impact training is especially helpful for those who are recovering from an injury, especially in the earlier recovery stages.
Due to its lower impact on the joints, people prone to back and joint pain can also benefit from walking over running.
Better For Heart Health: Both
Getting the legs and blood pumping supports cardiovascular health but is walking or running better for heart health? A 2014 study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology16 suggests equivalent energy expenditures by moderate (walking) and vigorous (running) exercise both similarly reduce the risk for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
One caveat is to reach equal energy expenditures, more walking time is required. So if looking for a more time-efficient cardio exercise to support your heart, running or increasing the intensity of your walk might work best for you.
Better For Efficient Calorie Burn and Weight Loss: Running
When comparing uphill walking vs running, a 160-pound person walking on an incline for one hour can expect to burn 440 calories. The same 160-pound person running at 6mph for one hour burns 720 calories on flat ground.
Obviously, running is more efficient in terms of burning calories for weight loss. But walkers can still move toward weight-loss goals by trying out a treadmill walking workout for weight loss, increasing the intensity of the walk, and, most importantly, staying consistent with their healthy lifestyle habits.
Better For You: Whichever You’ll Complete Consistently!
Again, consistency is key if you want to gain the full benefits of cardio exercise. So at the end of the day, choose which activity works best for YOU and you’re more likely to stay consistent.
If you love running, run! If the idea of a Saturday morning run sounds miserable, there’s no reason to force it — sa walk instead. Love walking and running? Enjoy both!
Final Thoughts: How Many Calories Does Walking a Mile Burn?
The amount of calories burned while walking depends on various factors, including body size, age, walking pace, and the intensity of the walk. Calculating your average calorie burn can be a helpful metric to know, although calories don’t tell the full story of your fitness journey.
Walking can truly support your health and wellness in many ways, especially when swapping a walk with sedentary behaviors (looking at you, Netflix)! So the next time someone tells you to “take a walk,” happily oblige and step to the many benefits of such a universally accepted and appreciated exercise.
- Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. 2021;08(3).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2015–2018. 2021;46(3).
- Hills AP, Mokhtar N, Byrne NM. Assessment of physical activity and energy expenditure: an overview of objective measures. Front Nutr. 2014;1:5. Published 2014 Jun 16. doi:10.3389/fnut.2014.00005
- ScienceDirect. Resting Metabolic Rate – an overview.
- Abadi FH, Muhamad TA, Salamuddin N. Energy expenditure through walking: Meta Analysis on gender and age. Procedia Soc Behav Sci. 2010;7:512-521. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.10.069
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data Brief 313. Attempts to Lose Weight Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016.
- Franz MJ, VanWormer JJ, Crain AL, et al. Weight-loss outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of weight-loss clinical trials with a minimum 1-year follow-up. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107(10):1755-1767. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.017
- Johns DJ, Hartmann-Boyce J, Jebb SA, Aveyard P; Behavioural Weight Management Review Group. Diet or exercise interventions vs combined behavioral weight management programs: a systematic review and meta-analysis of direct comparisons. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114(10):1557-1568. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.07.005
- Jakicic JM, Clark K, Coleman E, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Appropriate intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(12):2145-2156. doi:10.1097/00005768-200112000-00026
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. 2018.
- ScienceDirect. Walking Speed – an overview.
- Hanson S, Jones A. Is there evidence that walking groups have health benefits? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(11):710-715. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094157
- Legrand FD, Jeandet P, Beaumont F, Polidori G. Effects of outdoor walking on positive and negative affect: Nature contact makes a big difference. Front Behav Neurosci. 2023;16. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2022.901491
- Christian H, Bauman A, Epping JN, et al. Encouraging Dog Walking for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;12(3):233-243. Published 2016 Apr 17. doi:10.1177/1559827616643686
- Hall KS, Hyde ET, Bassett DR, et al. Systematic review of the Prospective Association of Daily Step Counts with risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease, and dysglycemia. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2020;17(1). doi:10.1186/s12966-020-00978-9
- Paluch AE, Bajpai S, Bassett DR, et al. Daily steps and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of 15 international cohorts. Lancet Public Health. 2023;7(3):e219-e228. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00302-9
- Williams PT, Thompson PD. Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2013;33(5):1085-1091. doi:10.1161/atvbaha.112.300878
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