Hiking slow = more calories?

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Home Forums General Forums Food, Hydration, and Nutrition Hiking slow = more calories?

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    matthew k


    I’ve completed the same hike three weekends in a row. It’s a 6.5 mile loop.

    The last two weekends it took me approximately 2:40 to college the loop which cost me 1450 calories each time according to my ABC/HR watch.

    A friend joined me today and they hiked very slowly. It took use 4:30 to complete the loop. My HR was low the whole time. I notice my watch said the hike cost me 2030 calories of energy.

    I was very surprised given my perceived low level of exertion. Obviously I was active for a longer period of time even though it was at a lower intensity.

    I don’t draw any useful conclusions from this knowledge yet but I thought it was an interesting and counterintuitive observation.

    Any thoughts?

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Matthew

    My only question is to wonder whether the figures from your ABC/HR watch have any real meaning for a single individual. I have my doubts: it’s a watch after all.

    But yes, nearly doubling the duration of the walk must make a difference: only a portion of your fuel consumption (calories) goes into actually walking. A lot has to go into just keeping your body alive and warm.

    All in a day’s fun.


    BPL Member


    Walking uses 70-80% as much energy as running.

    If you’re trying to burn calories, being out of breath is counter productive if you can’t sustain it. Much better to just walk slowly enough to not raise your heart rate, then you can keep going.

    All those weight loss TV shows where they force fat people to do high intensity exercise are propagating the audiences’ perception of health and fitness, not actually showing people realistic or kinesiological reinforced ways to be healthy.


    MJ H
    BPL Member


    Running uses more energy for the same distance is true, but I think Roger must be right and that they are counting calories other than those used for walking. They must have a factor in their calculation for the passage of time and the calories being used even if you don’t move. Because even at the lower of the calorie count Matt gives, that’s 223 calories per mile, which seems impossibly high unless you are carrying small piece of furniture or something. For example, take the numbers from the article above for the 1 mile run (471.03 ± 100.67 kilojoules) and that’s only 137 calories.

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