Count Your Miles, Not Your Time

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Count Your Miles, Not Your Time

For many people following a weight loss plan, or just wanting to stay fit, walking is the most convenient form of exercise available. You can go at your own pace, do it just about anywhere, and fit it into almost any schedule.

If walking is one of your primary forms of exercise, you might assume that you’re burning a certain number of calories. Then, you incorporate that assumption into your overall weight loss (or maintenance) plan, arranging your diet and other forms of exercise accordingly.

But here’s the problem: A recent study* found that walkers who estimated their burned calories according to time actually gained an average of 2.4 pounds during a 10-week study period.

What happened? Researchers believe that those who measured their burned calories according to time were overestimating by a significant amount. This led them to compensate by eating too many calories, throwing their weight loss or maintenance plans off balance. That’s probably because body size, walking speed, difficulty of the course (hills), and other factors combine to influence the actual number of calories burned through walking.

Luckily, the study also included a group of participants who measured calories burned by distance. This group of people lost an average of 8.8 pounds over the 10-week study period! Research has found that most people can accurately assume a calorie burn rate of 100 calories per mile traveled, whether by walking or running at various speeds. That’s still an average number that can vary a bit according to the factors listed above, but it’s far more reliable. And with reliable data, you can make a better plan for both exercise and eating.

So, the takeaway lesson here is that logging your distance covered, and calculating your burned calories based on that data, is probably better than relying upon the time you spend exercising. Give it a try and see how it works for you! You can use a pedometer or smartphone app to track mileage, and then multiply that figure by 100 to calculate your calories burned through exercise.

As always, come see us if you need help with a weight loss plan or deciding which type of exercise is safe for you.

 

*http://europepmc.org/articles/pmc5609661

 

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