Walking is one of the easiest ways to burn calories, but now research from Ohio State University shows how you walk can also increase your calorie burn.
In the study, which was reported earlier this week, people who walked at varying speeds during a walking session ended up burning 20 percent more calories than those who walked at a steady pace. Previously, experts had only studied how walking burned calories without any variations in walking speed.
The findings are important, as implementing this technique could help people lose more weight without changing their diet.
“Most of the existing literature has been on constant-speed walking,” says Manoj Srinivasan, co-author of the study and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Ohio State University. “This study is a big missing piece. Measuring the metabolic cost of changing speeds is very important because people don’t live their lives on treadmills and do not walk at constant speeds. We found that changing speeds can increase the cost of walking substantially.”
For their research, scientists recruited a group of people and split them in two groups, both of whom were selected to work out on a treadmill. The first group were simply asked to walk at a steady pace while keeping up with the treadmill’s speed, serving as the control.
The other group, however, were asked to alternate between walking to the front of the treadmill or walking to the back of it, changing their walking speed frequently to keep up with the pace. Researchers found when they did this, the amount of calories they burned increased due to the drastic changes in treadmill walking speed.
Nidhi Seethapathi, who also helped author the study, explains the findings below.
“Walking at any speed costs some energy, but when you’re changing the speed, you’re pressing the gas pedal, so to speak,” says Seethapathi, a doctoral fellow in mechanical engineering at Ohio State University. “Changing the kinetic energy of the person requires more work from the legs and that process certainly burns more energy.”
While researchers intend to use these results to change how physical rehabilitation is used for patients, its findings also show that walking can also be optimized to burn more calories. That can be useful for people who are trying to lose weight, where increased calorie burning is needed in order to reduce their body weight.
What This Means For You
Want to increase your calorie burn while walking? While walking at a steady pace can help increase the burn, what works the best is drastically varying your walking speed, report researchers. Doing so could increase your calorie burn by up to 20 percent.
Readers: What do you like to do for exercise?
New Study Shows That Varying Walking Pace Burns More Calories – ScienceDaily.com
The Metabolic Cost of Changing Walking Speeds is Significant, Increases in Daily Expenditure (Study) – RoyalSocietyPublishing.org