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Physical activity

Variable gait

Walking as fast as possible may not be the best way to exercise.  Walking at changing speeds may burn 20% more calories, according to experiments conducted at the Ohio State University, in the United States (Biology Letters, September 2015).  On a constant-speed treadmill, volunteers were instructed to walk at variable speeds: pick up the pace to move forward along the treadmill frame, then fall back by walking more slowly than the moving belt.  “Measuring the metabolic cost of changing speed is important because people do not live on treadmills or walk at a constant pace,” says Manoj Srinivasan, coordinator of the laboratory.  The study showed that 8% of the energy we spend daily on walking gets burned when starting and stopping.  As an additional finding, the authors confirmed that people walk more slowly when their destination is close by, and faster when they have a long distance to cover.  So here’s a tip for burning extra calories: walk in a way that seems a bit unnatural, changing your speed and direction often.