How to Burn More Calories While You Walk

How to Burn More Calories While You Walk

The simplest of exercises: tie on your favorite walking shoes and go! But how can we maximize that basic walk outside? Getting out and enjoying the fresh air is one thing, but we want to be efficient about our exercise. And as fun as walking is, you don’t want to have to be out there for 4 hours to burn off that one piece of cake that you just had to have. So, let’s take a look at options for burning more, so you can do other things in your day and not just exercise.

Swing your arms while you walk

Adding in arm movement is the easiest way to add in a bit of extra calorie burning. There are several options here, too:

  • just swinging your arms will add a bit of extra effort,
  • and adding walking poles (called Nordic walking) can add up to 67% more energy expenditure over regular walking.
  • Guys, when I looked that up, I saw nothing but exclamation points…67% more!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me?! Check out this study to find out more information.
  • Shorter poles added an additional 3%, but if you are interested in trying this, check out the guidelines here.

Walk uphill

Adding hills into your program will also add additional calorie expenditure. Here in Wisconsin, we have some great places to walk with hills. The Kettle Moraine State Forest has some great trails, so if you are looking for a half or full day of hiking fun, this might be the ticket.

Or, you can try walking up and down the hill at Klode Park for a great walking workout. There is even a track around the park, and each loop you could add in a walk to the beach and back up.

Vary your walking speed

Of course another way to add some calorie burning is to vary your speed. Try walking for one minute at a faster pace, and then walking at your regular pace for 2 minutes. Mix it up! Or let your music be your guide by picking a faster song and then a slightly slower song.

Add hand weights to your walk

This goes along a bit with the idea of adding some arm movements into your walk. Light hand weights can be added, and as you walk, you can do curls, overhead presses, and other arm exercises, or you can just swing your arms but with that little bit of extra weight. Here though, I would go a bit lighter with the weight selection: 1, 2, or 3 pounds will be plenty! You’ve got to make it home with that extra weight!

In short, walking is a viable exercise, with lower impact, and you can burn those extra calories by adding some simple strategies to make it really count!

Try this walking workout:

  • Start out medium pace, 3-5 minutes
  • Add arm swinging, 3 minutes
  • Increase speed for 3 minutes
  • Slow down slightly and add arm swings 3 minutes
  • Increase speed for 3 minutes
  • High knee walking 2 minutes
  • Medium pace, 2 minutes
  • Straight leg lifts, 2 minutes
  • Medium pace, 5 minutes
  • Done!
Get a free fitness consultation!

Melissa Abramovich Headshot

Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen

Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.



This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Got something to add? Leave a comment!