How To Burn More Calories When You Walk

Want to know how you can burn more calories while walking? Scientists say, vary your speed when you walk.

A recent study in 2015 by Ohio State University shows changing your walking pace burns up to 20% more energy than traveling at the same pace.

Researchers at Ohio measured the cost of changing walking speeds by having people switch up their walking pace on a treadmill while its speed remained steady. Participants changed between walking quickly to move to the front of the treadmill belt, or slowly to move to the back of the treadmill.

Prior experiments by other researchers changed the treadmill speed directly, which doesn’t reflect a natural stride. When the treadmill speed is changing, the treadmill itself is doing some of the work, instead of the person walking.

You can watch a video of people taking part in the study here.

Walk in a way that is unnatural and goofy: Red Light, Green Light!

To burn even more calories from strolling, the researchers advised people should try to walk in a way that feels unnatural to them- that is fast and slow to get the best walking workout possible.

For example:

  • Walking in a wavy pattern down the street
  • Stopping and starting suddenly
  • Swinging your arms while you walk
  • Taking a stroll with weights attached to legs
  • Listening to music on headphone and dancing your way to work

Previous studies assumed humans move at the same, constant pace all day

The study published in the journal Biology Letter notes that the metabolic cost of alternating walking speeds is very important to take into account due to the fact people don’t actually live their lives walking at the same, constant pace.

In fact, researched concluded that the cost of changing speeds makes up 4–8% of daily walking energy budget that isn’t allocated for in current daily calorie guidelines.

How much should you vary your speed for maximum calorie burn?

If you want to stick as close as possible to the results found in the study for maximum calorie burn, the researchers recommend walking for three seconds,  stop, walk for a few more seconds, then stop again, and so on — thereby constantly starting and stopping kinetic energy.  

Walking a dog on a leash that pulls and then suddenly stops to smell something would have this effect.

Does this change how much I should be walking?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends walking 30 minutes a day 5 times a week for adults to stay healthy.  For more health benefits and to control your weight, you may aim to walk more. Aim for 300 minutes each week, or about 1 hour a day for 5 days, recommends the NIH.

Remember, the health benefits of physical activity depend on three elements according to Harvard Health: the intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise. By alternating your pace during the course of your walk, the intensity of the workout and calories burned increases.

Walking: Steps to health

Yes- You can spend less time walking and burn more calories if you vary your speed, but in the end the more you walk, the more health benefits you seek to gain!

Walking offers great benefits such as lowering your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, strengthening your bones and muscles, burning more calories, and putting you in a much better mood, according to the NIH.

Varied walking speed and physical therapy potential

The study also revealed people tend to walk more slowly when covering short distances, but they increase their pace when they know they’ll be covering a large distance.

As  patients’ progress is usually measured by the amount of time it takes them to walk a certain distance, these new study findings may prove to be helpful for physical therapy program planning.

So take a walk, and add some extra funky steps and stops along the way

Walking is the most popular, inexpensive physical activity among adults. You can walk alone, with friends, or be on the phone with someone as you take a stroll. You can walk indoors, outdoors, on a treadmill,  on a hiking trail outside a city, on vacation, at home or away.

You can get all the benefits of moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury, and just by changing up your pace, you can squeeze out even more!

Looking for more information on walking? Check out

It’s a detailed, up-to-date 7,000 word guide on 50 amazing health benefits of walking daily, according to science.

Happy walking!
For comments or questions, email