How to calculate the number of calories burned walking

Time to get the calculator out!

couple walking across mountain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ever wondered how many calories you burn while walking? You're not the only one! Many of us use fitness apps to track our steps and calorie-counting apps to log our meals every day. But how reliable are they for calculating calories burned when walking? 

Thankfully there's now a super simple formula that can help you calculate the amount of calories burned while walking a little more accurately, and takes into consideration your height, weight and the pace at which you walk. 

So get yourself a pair of the best women's walking shoes and get ready to discover the benefits of walking for weight loss using this simple formula. 

How many calories can I burn while walking? 

According to Vikash Sharma, a Doctor of Physical Therapy at New York City’s Perfect Stride Physical Therapy, you can expect to burn around 100-300 calories during a 30 minute walk.

“If you are climbing hills, walking at a faster pace or using intervals in your walking routine, then you are sure to increase the number of calories you burn," Vikash says.

Recent research goes further and concludes that you might actually be burning more calories than your fitness app is telling you. This is where the simple formula comes in... 

two women and two men walking on the beach

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2016, researchers at the Southern Methodist University analyzed multiple data sets published over the past 50 years and discovered that standard calculations underestimated calorie burn in 97% of cases. They also found that your height makes more of a difference than it’s been given credit for.

“The taller you are, the less energy it takes to walk a mile,” says Peter Weyand, the study’s co-author, who helped develop the new formula. “This means the rate at which you burn calories while walking at the same speed is slower compared with someone who is shorter.”

The formula the researchers created measures the number of calories burned per minute during level walking and works for all ages. What's more, it takes into consideration your weight, height and the pace at which you walk.

To use it, you'll need to know your walking speed. Not sure how to figure it out? Get yourself one of the best fitness trackers and it will do all the work for you.

How do I calculate the number of calories burned walking?  

Here’s the formula you need to know:

Calories burned per minute = (0.035  X body weight in kg) + ((Velocity in m/s ^ 2) / Height in m)) X (0.029) X (body weight in kg)

Don't worry – it’s not as complicated as it looks! Here's an example: Let’s say you’re 1.6m tall, weigh 60kg and typically walk at 1.4 metres per second (that's about 3.1mph).

  1. Multiply your body weight in kilograms by 0.035. Eg. 0.035 x 60 = 2.1
  2. Square your velocity (or speed) in metres per second by multiplying it by itself. Eg. 1.4 x 1.4 = 1.96
  3. Divide the result by your height in metres. Eg.1.96 ÷ 1.6 = 1.225
  4. Add your first answer and your second answer E.g. 2.1 + 1.225 = 3.325.
  5. Multiply the result by 0.029. E.g. 3.325 x 0.029 = 0.096425
  6. Multiply the result by your body weight. E.g. 0.096425 x 60 = 5.7855

This means that someone of your height and weight will typically burn 5.8 calories per minute when walking on a level surface at a speed of 1.4m/s or 3.1mph. A standard formula accounting for weight alone would give you an estimated figure of 4 calories burned per minute.

While the formula can’t account for gradient or fitness levels, scientists claim it is much more accurate than the algorithms typically used by calorie-burn calculators, treadmills and fitness apps.

So, now all that's left to do is get out your good walking shoes and get walking!