Calories Burned Running vs Walking

I’ve always thought that calories burned running vs walking was equal at about 100 per mile.

Received Wisdomcalories burned running vs walking

I have read this for many years and it has been repeated so many times it has become true.  According to straightforward Newtonian physics you are moving the same object the same distance so you use the same amount of energy.

But I also “knew” that animals use more energy to run because they were less efficient.  So why the difference?

When you run a mile you feel that you are using more energy than if you walked it.

So I was surprised when I recently read an article in Runners World that said you used more energy when you run.

Actual Calories Burned Running vs Walking

I searched about and found, again through Runners World, that you do use more energy when you run according to a study at Syracuse University.(Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running,” Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, Cameron et al, Dec. 2004.)

Notice the date!

It’s been over ten years since this work was done and it was only in 2016 that I first came across the idea that you burn fewer calories walking vs running.  The old idea is still persisting.  And I suppose that it will continue because it is so easy to believe.

Yet if you think about it, it is obvious that you will burn more calories running vs walking because you are not moving the same weight the same distance.  When you run you are lifting yourself off the ground and launching yourself on to your next step, so there is an increase in the height you are moving the weight.

So the up to date answer is…

Wait for it…

For men, an average of 124 calories while running, and just 88 while walking; for women,  105 and 74. (Men burn more than women because they weigh more.)  This was the averaged result from treadmill tests on 12 men and 12 women over 1.6k. (about a mile).

So you can say calories burned running vs walking is about half as much again for running.

I’ve still not found out about whether animals use more energy than humans proportionally, but that is not really important to most people trying to lose weight.  It might be important to those of you who still have to hunt for you food, but I suspect there aren’t many of you out there.

So now I have to rewrite my books How to Run Faster and Beginners Guide to Running.

It affects much of the weight control advice I’ve ever offered and that is been offered all over the internet and at gyms around the world.

It also means that running is better than it was for losing weight.

More Calories Burned Walking vs Running

In the same article the author did some further testing on himself and proved another point that I always thought was true, and in this case it is.

If you walk really, really fast, you burn more calories than if you run.

He tested his heart rate running and walking at the same speed on a treadmill for 2 miles.  Heart rate gives an indication of how hard you are working and by implication, how many calories you are burning.

At 3mph (20 minute miles) running heart rate 99, walking 81.

At 5.5mph (10.55 per mile) running heart rate 122, walking 145.

It stands to reason really.  Walking at 3mph is quite easy and natural.  Push it up to 5.5mph and it is not natural, you want to break out into a trot.  Because it is unnatural you are not moving as efficiently so you will be using more calories.

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