Walking vs. Running: How Many Calories Are Burnt
by Emily Jannet on Sep 11, 2023
In the quest for a healthier lifestyle, understanding the relationship between calorie expenditure and different forms of exercise is crucial. Walking and running are two of the most accessible and popular forms of physical activity, but how do they compare when it comes to calorie burning? Is one significantly better than the other? In this blog post, we will dive deep into the science behind calorie burn during walking and running and help you make informed decisions about which activity suits your fitness goals and preferences.
The Mechanics of Calorie Burn
Before we delve into the specifics of walking and running, let's establish the fundamental principles of calorie burning during exercise.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): BMR represents the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain basic functions like breathing and digestion. It varies from person to person based on factors like age, gender, and genetics.
Physical Activity and Calorie Expenditure: Any physical activity you engage in, whether it's walking, running, or weightlifting, adds to your daily calorie expenditure. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET): MET is a measure of the intensity of physical activities. 1 MET is roughly equivalent to the calories burned at rest. The MET value for an activity determines its impact on calorie burn.
Now, let's compare walking and running in terms of calorie expenditure.
Calorie Burn During Walking
Walking is a low-impact, accessible, and versatile form of exercise suitable for people of all fitness levels. The calorie burn during walking depends on several factors:
Walking Speed: The faster you walk, the more calories you burn. A leisurely stroll burns fewer calories than brisk walking.
Duration: The longer you walk, the more calories you'll expend. Walking for an extended period at a moderate pace can lead to a significant calorie burn.
Terrain: Walking on an incline or uneven terrain requires more effort, resulting in a higher calorie burn.
Body Weight: Heavier individuals tend to burn more calories while walking than lighter individuals covering the same distance.
On average, a person weighing around 155 pounds can expect to burn roughly 314 calories per hour walking at a moderate pace (around 3.5 mph). However, calorie burn varies considerably based on the factors mentioned above.
Calorie Burn During Running
Running is a higher-intensity form of exercise that typically burns more calories per minute than walking. Here are the key factors influencing calorie burn while running:
Running Speed: The faster you run, the more calories you burn. Sprinting consumes more calories than jogging.
Duration: Like walking, the longer you run, the more calories you'll expend. Running for extended periods can lead to a substantial calorie burn.
Terrain: Running uphill or on uneven terrain requires more energy, resulting in a higher calorie burn.
Body Weight: Heavier individuals generally burn more calories while running than lighter individuals running the same distance.
On average, a person weighing around 155 pounds can burn approximately 590 calories per hour running at a moderate pace (around 5 mph). However, as with walking, calorie burn during running varies based on the factors mentioned earlier.
So, which is better for burning calories: walking or running? The answer depends on your fitness goals, preferences, and physical condition.
Walking is an excellent choice if:
- You're new to exercise and want a low-impact option.
- You prefer a more leisurely pace and want to enjoy nature.
- You're recovering from an injury or have joint issues.
Running is ideal if:
- You're looking for a high-intensity workout to burn calories quickly.
- You want to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
- You have limited time for exercise and need a more time-efficient option.
It's important to note that both walking and running have their benefits, and the best exercise for you is the one you can consistently incorporate into your lifestyle. Moreover, combining both activities can provide a well-rounded fitness routine that benefits your overall health.
Tips for Maximizing Calorie Burn
Regardless of whether you choose walking or running, there are ways to maximize your calorie burn:
Interval Training: Incorporate intervals of higher intensity into your workout. For walkers, this might mean picking up the pace for short bursts. Runners can add sprints or hill climbs.
Maintain Proper Form: Whether walking or running, maintaining good posture and proper biomechanics can help you burn more calories efficiently.
Incorporate Strength Training: Building muscle through strength training can increase your resting metabolic rate, leading to more calories burned throughout the day.
Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can hinder calorie burn. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your exercise session.
In the eternal debate of walking vs. running for calorie burn, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The calorie burn during these activities depends on various factors like speed, duration, terrain, and body weight.
Ultimately, the best exercise is the one you enjoy and can maintain consistently. Whether you choose to walk or run, the most important thing is to stay active and make physical activity a regular part of your life. Remember that a balanced approach to fitness, including a combination of different exercises and a healthy diet, is key to achieving your health and fitness goals. So, lace up those shoes and start moving – your body will thank you for it!