How Many More Calories Do You Burn Walking Uphill?

Man walking uphill with his dog
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It certainly feels like you are burning more calories when you walk uphill or add incline to your treadmill workout. But how many more calories are you burning by walking uphill?

The answer comes from two sources. First, in our walking calorie charts and calculator, I use MET measurements from research conducted by Barbara A. Ainsworth. In her research, they measured the actual calories expended by people walking uphill at a brisk 3.5 miles per hour with those walking on flat, firm ground at the same speed.

The difference was an increase of calories burned by 60 percent or by an additional 48 calories per mile for a 150-pound person. On flat ground, that person would burn 80 calories per mile.

What Goes Uphill Must Come Downhill

But unless you are on a treadmill, what goes up must come down. Do you lose all of that extra calorie burn because you were going downhill for part of your walk?

No, when going downhill you only burn 6.6 percent fewer calories per mile than walking on the flats. That means burning 5 fewer calories per mile for our 150-pound person. Overall, by adding a one-mile uphill walk followed by a one -mile downhill walk, that person burned 43 more calories than they would have walking a flat two miles.

Incline on Hills and Treadmills

But incline also makes a big difference. Not all hills are alike, they have different inclines (percentage grades). On a treadmill, you can accurately set your incline by 1%, 2%, etc.

When walking outdoors, you need to use a tool such as to map out your walks and see what the incline really is.

I can tell you from experience, that a 5% incline is a real huffer-puffer.

The second method uses the equations from the American College Of Sports Medicine's Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription.

 I find that:

  • for every 1 percent of grade, you increase your calories burned by about 12% or about 10 more calories per mile for a 150-pound person.
  • By the time you are at 10 percent grade, you are burning over twice as many calories per mile.

This is why hiking is often listed in calorie calculators as burning many more calories per mile than walking.

Go ahead, add some hills to your walking workout!


AINSWORTH BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, Irwin ML, Swartz AM, Strath SJ, O'Brien WL, Bassett DR Jr, Schmitz KH, Emplaincourt PO, Jacobs DR Jr, Leon AS. "Compendium of Physical Activities: An update of activity codes and MET intensities." Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32 (Suppl):S498-S516.

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