Which Burns More Calories, Walking or Water Aerobics?

The faster you walk, the more calories you'll burn.
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Beginning an exercise routine can seem like an overwhelming task if you aren't accustomed to regular physical activity, or for someone recovering from illness or injury. Easing into a fitness program with low-impact exercises, like walking or water aerobics, is the way to go. According to Mayo Clinic.com, water aerobics is a no- to low-impact activity that provides a natural form of resistance, and walking -- even only a modest amount -- provides health benefits.

Walking: Low Intensity

    The number of calories you burn while walking depends how quickly you put one foot in front of the other. According to Harvard Health Publications, a 155-pound person will expend about 300 calories per hour while walking at a rate of 3.5 mph -- that's a 17-minute mile. At this rate, you'll burn calories at the same rate as you would doing water aerobics.

Walking: Moderate Intensity

    Increase your pace just a bit, and you'll burn calories at a higher rate than if you were doing water aerobics. A 155-pound person will burn 334 calories per hour walking a 15-minute mile. That's a pace of 4 mph. Walk at a rate of 13 minutes per mile, and you'll increase your caloric burn to 372 calories per hour.


    The type and grade of the terrain on which you walk will affect your pace and caloric burn. If you're walking on a rocky trail, you might not be able to keep a consistent pace, but you might also expend more energy compensating for uneven ground. Hiking up small hills might cause your caloric burn rate to increase. The use of hiking poles might affect the way your body burns fuel as well. According to Harvard Health Publications, a 155-pound person will burn 446 calories per hour hiking.

Water Aerobics

    The average 155-pound person will expend about 300 calories per hour doing water aerobics. This kind of activity isn't a high-intensity exercise and you won't burn calories as rapidly as you would during a vigorous walking routine, but water aerobics has benefits that many other forms of exercise lack. Water aerobics provides an opportunity to strengthen and tone the upper body, and it's easy on the joints.

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