Go Ahead and Keep Walking: It Does Burn More Calories Than Previously Thought

Most people have been under the mistaken impression that the walking they’re doing isn’t helping all that much. Well, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, you may actually be burning more calories than you previously thought when you walk.

What Problem(s) Did Researchers Discover?

Southern Methodist University researchers looked at the most commonly used equations in the last 40 years, and what they found shocked them. There were two glaring errors:

  • The first error involve the sample size, which were extremely small and involved just men… no women.
  • The second error didn’t consider the fact that different sized people burned off energy at varying rates (People who are heavier burn less calories per pound when they walk the same distance of people who didn’t weigh as much).

Therefore, researchers realized that the estimates for calorie burning is far lower in roughly 97 percent of the cases.

Is There A Solution To The Problem?

Yes, there is a solution. Researchers came up with a new equation that’s about three times more precise. It’s based on a bigger sample size and does consider the varying weights and heights and speed of walking too.

How many calories then are you burning? If you’re a female of average height with a weight of 130 pounds, walking at 2.9 miles an hour, your total energy burned per mile is 81 kilocalories. That’s according to Peter Weyand, Ph.D, the university’s biomechanics professor and director of the Locomotor Performance Lab. He was a co-author in the study.

Therefore, Weyand said, when using the old equation, a person burns just 68 calories per mile when they walk 2.9 miles per hour. If you walk faster (4 mph), the number of calories increases to around 95 per mile.

There’s has been no indication on when the new calculation will go into effect on a larger scale or if your Fitbit will get it in a software update. The best thing you can do is add more steps to your daily routine – park the car further away from the door, go for a scenic walk at your local park, etc.

Your health will benefit greatly from the walking exercise you give it, improving its musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. Plus, most people can easily walk. Why not do something good for your health?

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About Dr Patrick Fraser

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