Walking is a great form of exercise. It’s low-impact, accessible, and can be done almost anywhere. However, many people wonder how to maximize the calorie-burning benefits of walking.
First of all, it is important to understand how many calories you can burn while walking. Many wearable fitness technologies and online calculators can estimate this but research has shown that they are not entirely accurate. In fact, most people burn more calories than these tools report.
However, it is important to note that walking is moderate-intensity, not like boxing or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). If you want to burn more calories in just a short period you need a higher-intensity exercise.
Many would recommend walking at a brisk pace at a consistent level to keep your heart pumping. However, research shows that if you change your pace throughout your walk this can increase your metabolic rate by up to 20% compared to walking at a steady pace.
Pay Attention to Your Heart Rate and How You Feel
To maximize the benefits of walking, pay attention to your heart rate and how you feel. Using a fitness tracker to help you recognize when you reach your target heart rate zones can help you achieve your goals.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a target heart rate for moderate-intensity physical activity at 64% to 76% of your maximum heart rate.
For a 48-year-old person, this is roughly 110 and 131 beats per minute.
At this rate, you will feel your breathing rate go up but you should still be able to speak in complete sentences.
Research also suggests that it is beneficial to include short durations of light intensity to vary your pace. Light-intensity exercise is achieved at a heart rate of 57% to 63%.
For a 48-year-old person, this is about 98 to 108 beats per minute, a very comfortable pace.
The Fat-Burning Distinction
Walking is often touted as a great fat-burning exercise. While there is no “fat-burning zone,” it is possible to leverage your heart rate to get your body to burn fat for fuel.
When you are walking at a lighter intensity such as on a treadmill at American Family Fitness, you are more likely to be using fat for fuel. It may mean burning fewer calories but these calories will be from fat.
Finally, it is important to maintain good form when walking if your goal is to maximize the benefits. Many people develop bad habits over time that can affect their gait. Not only does walking with good form help improve total health, but it also ensures that you are using the right muscles and reduce the risk of injury.