What does stature have to do with the amount of calories burned when walking?

It is known that walking is one of the most complete aerobic exercises with the lowest impact. For a long time scientists have been calculating how much energy a person spends when walking. Now they found that height or height has a lot to do with it. If you are short, you burn more calories per kilo or pound of body mass, whereas if you are tall, you burn more calories in total.

Alicia and her husband go out for a half-hour walk every night after dinner. The two, who are already in their 40s, found in this activity the perfect exercise to share some time together and burn some calories. However, Alicia confesses that her husband, much taller than her, always complains that walking makes him feel good, but that he feels that maybe he does not burn as many calories as if he were running. To Alicia, however, the walk with her husband leaves her always sweating more than him and satisfied. Maybe it has to do with the fact that she is much shorter and has to take two steps when he gives one.

And although these are Alicia’s assumptions, they are not that far from the truth. A study published last November in the Journal of Experimental Biology , proves for the first time the impact of body size (considering both weight and height) in the amount of calories burned when walking. While scientists knew that people of short stature, including children, use more energy per pound (kilogram) of their body mass while walking than a tall person, they did not understand very well why.

Therefore, and wanting to clear this question, researchers from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, recruited 48 people between the ages of 5 to 32 years and put them to walk on a walker at speeds between 0.4 meters per second (0.9 miles) per hour) and 1.9 meters per second (4.9 miles per hour). The weight of the participants was 15.9 to 88.7 kilos (35 to 195 pounds) and the height varied between 1.10 and 1.80 meters (3.5 to 6 feet).

The results? All the participants used the same amount of energy with each step they took. However, those of short stature by having shorter legs, have to take more steps to cover the same distance compared to those who have long legs. That is, the short ones use more energy or burn more calories per pound or kilogram walking a certain distance.

That’s why Alicia’s husband does not feel the walk so much: as he is tall, he takes fewer steps, because his legs cover more distance.

However, there is a surprising factor: take for example the case of a person who measures 5 feet and weighs 100 pounds (1.52 meters and 45 kilos) vs. one that measures 6 feet and weighs 192 pounds (1.82 meters and 87 kilos). The first, that is, the short person, burns 0.44 calories per pound of your body mass, which equals 49 calories in total. The tall person burns 0.37 calories per pound of his body mass, but still, he burns a total of 71 calories to walk the same distance.

That is to say, while short people spend more energy walking (burn more calories per pound or kilo), in general, it is tall people who burn more calories in total, since their body has to support more mass against gravity and that requires a greater expenditure of energy.

Whatever your height, do not doubt that walking is an excellent low impact aerobic exercise that can make you burn the calories your body needs to eliminate. As you can see, both the tall ones and the short ones will benefit. Go for a walk!

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