When it comes to exercise, running gets a lot of attention and runners are usually enthusiastic missionaries of the sport. And while running is a fantastic workout, not everyone can run or enjoys running.
Whether you have joint, bone, or muscle issues, other acute or chronic health conditions, or simply don’t find running to be a form of exercise that appeals to you, you might find that walking can be a much more attractive and safe workout for you.
Walking an hour a day is a great workout and affords many physical and mental health benefits. In this guide, we will look at the benefits of walking an hour a day, answer questions such as, can you lose weight by walking an hour a day, and discuss how walking an hour a day can support you in your fitness and health goals.
We will look at:
- Walking An Hour a Day Benefits
- How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking an Hour a Day?
Let’s get started!
Walking An Hour a Day Benefits
Spending 60 minutes walking every day can sound like a big investment of time, but there are many benefits of walking an hour a day, including the following:
#1: Walking An Hour A Day Gives You A Great Fitness Base
If you walk an hour a day, you’ll be covering a distance of 3 to 4 miles or more per day, depending on how fast you walk.
If you do this consistently and walk an hour a day for a month or more, you’ll build up a solid aerobic base. This means that you will have a certain degree of cardiovascular fitness that will enable you to do other forms of cardio exercise at a similar level of intensity without being completely winded.
For example, a neighbor suddenly asks you to join her at a 5k charity walk over the weekend, you can hop in with them at the last minute and be able to complete the walk.
If your knee is sore and you want to take a day off walking, you can probably handle a moderate-intensity 30-minute workout on a stationary bike without feeling out of breath.
Walking an hour a day builds your stamina, conditions your heart and lungs, and strengthens your legs so that you have a good foundation to handle physical activity.
#2: Walking An Hour A Day Increases Your Aerobic Capacity
The results from a large review of 32 studies investigating the effects of walking interventions on cardiovascular disease risk factors showed that walking interventions (20-60 minutes per day 2-7 days per week for a mean of 18 weeks) increased aerobic capacity (VO2 max) by 3.04 mL/kg/min.
#3: Walking An Hour A Day Strengthens Your Muscles
Walking using your hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, and core to varying degrees, depending on the incline and speed at which you are walking. Walking uphill targets the hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
Actively pumping your arms will recruit additional muscles and make your walks a total-body workout.
#4: Walking An Hour A Day Improves Markers Of Health
Walking is a form of aerobic exercise, which has been found to confer quite a few health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increasing insulin sensitivity, and reducing blood sugar levels.
For example, studies have found that walking interventions (20-60 minutes per day 2-7 days per week for a mean of 18 weeks) reduced systolic blood pressure (-3.58 mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (-1.54 mm Hg).
In this way, walking an hour a day can reduce your risk of various lifestyle diseases, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
#5: Walking An Hour A Day Can Help Maintain A Healthy Weight
To lose one pound of stored body fat, you have to create a caloric deficit of roughly 3,500 calories. Therefore, to lose one pound of fat per week, you need to create a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories per day.
A 500-calorie per day deficit can be generated by consuming fewer calories, burning more calories, or a combination of both.
Walking an hour a day factors into the calories you burn. A review of 32 studies found that walking interventions (20-60 minutes per day 2-7 days per week for a mean of 18 weeks) reduced waist circumference (-1.51 cm), weight (-1.37 kg), body fat percentage (-1.22%) and body mass index (-0.53 kg/m2).
#6: Walking An Hour Day Can Reduce Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease And Mortality
According to the CDC, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases.
Walking an hour a day 3 days per week will help you surpass these recommendations. The more you can move your body, the better.
Another review of 17 prospective studies involving over 30,000 adults demonstrated a significant association between daily step count and reduced risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease.
Each 1,000 daily step count increase at baseline reduced the risk of all-cause mortality by 6-36% and cardiovascular disease by 5-21% at follow-up 4-10 years later for mortality and 6 months to 6 years later for cardiovascular disease.
An older prospective study found that walking more than 4 hours per week was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of hospitalizations due to cardiovascular disease compared with walking less than 1 hour per week.
#7: Walking An Hour A Day Can Reduce Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis in your knees or hips, or have some other form of localized or generalized musculoskeletal pain, walking an hour a day may help alleviate your discomfort.
A review of 26 studies found that walking can reduce the severity, discomfort, and functional limitations associated with chronic musculoskeletal pain.
#8: Walking An Hour A Day Is Good For Your Mental Health
In addition to the numerous physical health benefits of walking, walking an hour a day is wonderful for your mental health. Studies have found that walking regularly is associated with better emotional health compared to infrequent walking.
Walking, like all forms of exercise, can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and overall feelings of wellbeing, and can improve cognitive function.
Walking can increase your focus, energy, executive functioning, and may even improve your memory and creativity.
Moreover, you can use your 60-minute walls as a time to unplug from screens and technology and give your brain a much-needed break from the stress of work, news, etc.
How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking an Hour a Day?
The number of calories depends on a number of factors including, your body weight and composition, your walking speed, the distance you cover, the terrain, incline, and whether you carry any extra weight (for example, a backpack or if you wear a weighted vest).
The more you weigh, the faster and further you walk, and the steeper the incline, the more calories you will burn on your walk. With that said, there are ways to estimate the number of calories you burn walking an hour a day.
The Compendium of Physical Activities reports that walking at a leisurely pace of 2.8-3.2 mph on a level surface is equivalent to 3.5 METs. Walking at a pace of 3.5 mph on a level surface is 4.3 METs, while walking at a brisk pace of 4.0 mph on a level surface is rated at 5 METs, and finally, walking at a very brisk pace of 4.5 mph is 7 METs.
Adding an incline greatly increases the caloric burn. For example, walking 2.9–3.5 mph uphill at a 1 to 5% grade is roughly 5.3 METs, and maintaining that pace while attacking a 6 to 15% grade bumps the metabolic demand up to 8 METs.
Using these METs values, you can calculate the number of calories burned walking an hour at various speeds and weights using the equation to determine energy expenditure:
Calories Burned Per Minute = METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200
Then, if you are walking one hour a day, this calculated value is multiplied by 60 (because there are 60 minutes in an hour).
Below, we’ve created a chart that uses these METs, values for various walking speeds, and conditions to calculate the approximate number of calories burned walking an hour for different body weights.
You can use this table to get a rough idea of approximately how many calories you will burn.
|Weight (kg)||Calories Burned Walking 2.8-3.2 mph 60 Min||Calories Burned Walking 3.5 mph 60 Min||Calories Burned Walking 4.0 mph 60 Min||Calories Burned Walking 4.5 mph 60 Min||Calories Burned Walking 2.9–3.5 mph at 1-5% grade 60 Min||Calories Burned Walking 2.9–3.5 mph at 6-15% grade 60 Min|
Harvard Health Publishing reports that 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace of 3.5 miles per hour (17 minutes per mile) burns about 107 calories for a 125-pound person, 133 calories for a 155-pound person, and 159 calories for an 185-pound person.
Therefore, walking an hour at 3.5 mph will burn approximately 214 calories for a 125-pound person, 266 calories for a 155-pound person, and 318 calories for an 185-pound person.
Walking at a brisk pace of 4.0 miles per hour (15 minutes per mile) for 30 minutes burns about 135 calories for a 125-pound person, 175 calories for a 155-pound person, and 189 calories for an 185-pound person.
Therefore, walking an hour at 4.0 mph will burn approximately 270 calories for a 125-pound person, 350 calories for a 155-pound person, and 378 calories for an 185-pound person.
These numbers are somewhat lower than those predicted with the METs equations; however, this just goes to show you that the energy expenditure values are ballparks. The number of calories you burn walking an hour will really depend on your unique combination of factors.
That said, burning calories is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of walking, so lace up your shoes and enjoy your walk!
If you are looking to train to walk a 5k or 10k, check out our 5k and 10k Walking Training Plans to get you there safely!