I’ve been getting this question for a long time and I’ve always pointed people to articles on other sites to answer it. Today it finally occurred to me that I could actually write a better article. See, those other articles just give you one or two averages, like “the average man burns 90 calories a mile,” or “a 180 pound person will burn 100 calories a mile, while a 120 pound person will burn 65.”
In other words, none of them that I’ve found actually give you a calculator to come up with a precise answer for you, even though that’s actually very easy to do. So I made one. This calculator will tell you how many calories you burn per step/mile/hour/minute, based on your height and weight, and how much fat that can burn for you.
If you’re using the metric system, multiply your weight in kilograms by 2.2 to get your weight in pounds, and divide your height in centimeters by 2.5 to get your height in inches. Also, a mile is 1.8 kilometers.
For Americans: 5 feet is 60 inches, which makes the calculation easy for anyone who’s five foot something (most people). If you’re 5’8 you’re 68 inches, and so on.
For everyone: calories burned per minute/hour assume a moderately fast walking pace, around 3 to 3.5 miles per hour, with no stopping. Calories burned per mile or per step don’t depend on your pace at all. Unlike other forms of exercise, your level of leanness or physical fitness don’t matter here; just your weight. Obviously more fit people can move faster, but that doesn’t change the calories per mile calculation.
This is best used in conjunction with some way to measure how far you travel, but it’s also useful for seeing, say, how many more calories you could burn if you walk to lunch every day vs driving, or if you park on the far side of the parking lot every day instead of taking several minutes to hunt for a closer parking spot. It doesn’t take into account extra calories burned if you’re carrying something or walking up stairs or a hill, of course.
The last part tells you how much fat you’ll burn per week if you walk an extra 10,000 steps a day in addition to how many you’re already walking, assuming– and this is a big one– that you don’t then start eating more because “you’ve earned it.” Note that contrary to popular belief, exercise– at least mild exercise like walking a few miles a day– doesn’t make you hungrier, but actually suppresses appetite, so you don’t have that as an excuse.
Everyone should be walking at least 10,000 steps a day. That’s an easy goal; it takes a little over an hour a day for most people, and can easily be achieved by just walking anywhere that’s less than half a mile away, and using a standing desk. Most people won’t need to “go for walks” just to hit that number.
Most phones these days measures steps and distance walked fairly accurately, but for the best measurements– including more accurate calorie counts that take your heart rate into account– get a fitness tracker like a FitBit Charge or Garmin Smartwatch.