Do you want to improve your health and wellbeing but you don’t like cardio? You can walk your dog in a park instead. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there’s a catch.

If you ever wondered if you could skip cardio, but still burn enough amount of calories, then you’re not alone. I do personally have some periods when I’m the greatest fan of cardio (there’s nothing better than 45-minute run on a treadmill). But from time to time, all I want to do is to go to the gym, just do my strength training and go home as soon as possible. Without even a minute spending on cardio. And I can hear here and there I’m not alone in this.

Does it mean there’s no option to burn let’s say extra 300 kcal a day then? Not actually. To do that, you can stay active throughout the day and burn that 300 kcal in another way, like walking your dog in a park, have a longer stroll or any other way that involves a bit more of steps you usually do every day. How come? That’s pretty simple. Your daily activity counts and every single step add up to your daily physical activity. [1] So instead of doing cardio, sometimes it’s better just to stay active and do more steps.

How calories do you burn while walking?


The answer to this question is simple, as always: it depends. It depends on your age, height, weight, intensity, activity level etc. [2] However, it’s getting a bit easier while having a step tracker, like a smartwatch or smart band. Basically, all of them have built pedometers in, so it’s pretty easy to track your steps every day using them. Also, many of them, while setting them up, will ask you to give them your basic details as above. Thanks to that, they should be able to count how many calories you burned while walking every day.

All right, these numbers are not super accurate. [3] I would even say they are estimates. And until you don’t make a fancy, professional measurements (with all those electrodes attached to your chest and so on), they will stay like that. Whatever manufacturers of smartwatches or smart bands try to tell you. However, they work based on your basic details. And they are repetitive. So they can give you some kind of idea of how many steps you do every day and how many calories you burn by that. For me, for every 12,000 steps, my Xiaomi Mi Band 4 shows about 300 kcal burned. What could I do with this number? Swap your cardio for steps.

What does it take to burn 300 kcal?


And again, these data are estimates only. But they can give you an idea of what kind of exercise you can swap for a higher daily activity with. So my smart band showed I made 12,000 steps today and burned roughly 300 kcal. This is, for a person of 160lbs (73kg), an equivalent of: [4]

  • 50 min of aerobics, low-impact
  • 45 min of aerobics, water
  • 1 hour of bicycling, <10mph, leisure
  • 1 hour of 25 dancing, ballroom
  • 50 min of an elliptical trainer, moderate effort
  • 1 hour of golfing, carrying clubs
  • 40 min of hiking
  • 30 min of running, 5 mph
  • 1 hour of skiing, downhill
  • 45 min of swimming laps, light or moderate
  • 1 hour of walking, 3.5mph

Of course, these numbers are rough estimates only and they may vary from person to person slightly. But they can show that sometimes you don’t have to spend an extra 30 min at the gym doing cardio. Instead of that, you can just be a bit more active during the day and swap your cardio for steps. Measured with, for example, a smart band.

Wrap up – swap your cardio for steps.


Smartwatches and smart bands can be great little machines that will make a genuinely positive impact on our lives. And save you some extra time, e.g. at the gym. And keep in mind you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on that. Here, it’s enough a smart band that cost less than £40, like Xiaomi Mi Band 4. And this is not the only thing you can do with that.

P.S. If you need some more detailed estimates regarding burnt calories during specific exercises then look at HSS site. [5]