“For someone who’s sedentary and unfit, burning 500 extra calories per day is going to be a huge effort,” says Dr. Michael Jensen, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist. “And there is a risk for injury or just being turned off by the increased activity.”
A 160-pound person walking briskly for an hour can burn as many as 277 calories. Biking for an hour is 292 calories, and running for an hour is 986. But here's the rub about the burn.
"I've just had too many patients who tried too hard to start with," says Dr. Jensen. "They became discouraged. They got injured."
Dr. Jensen says, if you're trying to shed pounds, start by cutting extra, unnecessary calories from your diet.
"Having an immediate change in eating habits, and, then, gradually increasing your physical activity until you have a comfortable active lifestyle is probably the best combination," he says.
Step 1 is eat a little less. Step 2 is start a slow burn. Instead of that brisk hourlong walk, ease up. Even walking at a 2 mph pace, you could burn 183 calories an hour.
"Build up your endurance," says Dr. Jensen. "Build up your strength. And, then, you can add more as time goes on."
In this case, slow and steady can win the race.