How can I burn more calories when walking?

Sure, you learned how to walk years and years ago, but these tips can improve your efficiency and calorie burn.
  • Bend your arms at your sides, hands relaxed.
  • Use your arms to power you forward or upward when on an incline.
  • Land on your heel with your knee slightly bent with each step.
  • Keep your chin level to the ground and look ahead of you.
  • Pull your shoulders down and back.
  • Roll through your foot with each step, pushing off your toes.
  • Stand up straight and tall; don’t lean forward. 
Sari Greaves
Nutrition & Dietetics
Here are some great tips to boost your calorie-burn during your walks that don't require much extra effort:
  • Get some poles -- Using Nordic poles torches an average 20 percent more calories by engaging the muscles in your upper body and torso. Plant the pole firmly at a 45-degree angle behind you, then push back forcefully against the ground to propel yourself forward.
  • Use your arms -- Vigorously pumping your bent arms helps you go faster and burn more calories.
  • Take smaller steps -- The best way to boost your speed -- and thus your burn -- is to take shorter, faster steps. Time yourself walking 100 steps, then recover for one minute. Count another 100 steps, and try to shave five seconds off your time. Repeat 12 times.
  • Set goals you can see -- Choose markers (stop sign, park bench, etc.) and speed up until you reach them. Slow down for the same distance.
  • Wipe the pavement -- Roll through from heel to toe. When you get to the ball of your foot, push off as if wiping gum off your sole. This will get your calf, hamstring, and glute muscles involved -- and the more muscle you use, the more calories you burn.
  • Stand straight -- When your body's aligned, your back and butt muscles are able to work more powerfully, so you walk faster and torch more calories. Stand tall with a straight spine, keeping your ears and shoulders aligned over your hips.
  • Raise your rate -- Wearing a heart-rate monitor is like having your own coach keeping you at optimal fat-torching pace. It will give you a push if you're slowing down too much, but also get you to ease up if you're pushing too hard.
  • - Add strength -- Simple moves like push-ups and lunges get more muscles involved for major burn. When you walk, stop every five minutes and do one minute of moves. This will help up your metabolism over the long-term, too. What's better than burning more calories while you walk? Blasting them off while you sleep, of course.
  • Go up (and down).
    Do 15 minutes of a 35-minute walk on hills, not flat ground, and you'll burn close to 100 extra calories, according to walking guru Mark Fenton, author of “The Complete Guide to Walking: For Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness.” Not only will walking up and down hills burn more calories, but it can also help sculpt your butt. If you're on a treadmill, hike your incline 15 percent for 15 minutes of your walk (break it up by raising the incline for a few minutes, then lowering it, then putting it back up again).
  • Make it a game.
    Really pick up the pace for 30 seconds every time you see a dog, a mailbox, a red car, or someone sipping coffee. Making a game of it can keep your walks more interesting and make you faster over time. Every time you speed up, you'll burn more calories. Then, let your pace go back to normal (but no slower than that) while you catch your breath. Tip: When you put on your short bursts of speed, make sure that your steps are faster, but not smaller. Next week, try making the faster parts five seconds longer. Keep at it.
  • Get (a little) speedy.
    If you're walking 20-minute miles, make it your goal this week to do one 19-minute mile each time you walk. Even if you go faster for just one mile of your three-mile circuit, you're making progress. Work up to 19 minutes for each mile of your workout. Once you can do that, try doing one mile at 18 minutes.
  • Do five minutes more, here and there.
    This week, either add five minutes to three walks, or add a 15-minute mile to one walk. Your choice. If you weigh 150 pounds, that small investment of time can nix almost 90 additional calories. Take a longer loop back home, or reset your treadmill timer. Just keep up the pace; if you walk slower when you walk longer, your additional calorie burn won't add up to much -- if it moves the needle at all.
  • Add music.
    In one study, people who worked out to up-tempo tunes covered 11 percent more ground -- without even feeling like they did anything extra. So try walking to music with a makes-you-want-to-move beat.
  • Go Nordic.
    You can burn 20 percent more calories just by adding springy fitness poles to your walks -- you know, those long poles you see some walkers using that look like they were borrowed from Nordic skiers. Even though you're doing more when you use poles (working your arms, walking taller), your workout might actually feel easier, as the poles help propel you forward.

    Ways to burn more calories is to increase the pace at which you walk, walking up hill or downhill while controlling your body, or on uneven terrain such as sand or a dirt path. You body will burn more calories as it attempts to stabilize the body while walking on uneven surfaces. Walking while wearing ankle or hand weights is not recommended as this can alter your walking mechanics which can increase your risk of injury.

    Employing the Drawing-in maneuver during you walks (and your fitness program) can be very effective for burning more calories. The additional strengthening and toning of the stomach muscles will be more physically demanding, requiring more energy, while increasing your fitness. The Drawing-in maneuver also improves your posture and helps protect the low back. 

    A helpful way to increase calories while walking is to set a timer and walk at a moderate pace for five minutes focusing on correct posture and swinging of the arms, followed by a timed minute of increased power walk pace and or light jogging in order to increase your heart rate. Repeat sequence until you reach near the end of your allotted walking time finishing with a slower moderate paced walk and stretching at the end. 

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.