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Calories Burned Running Vs. Walking

Updated on January 26, 2013
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Introduction

There is a common misconception that calories burned covering a mile on foot are the same, no matter how the distance was covered. This is far from the truth. The number of calories burned per mile depends on how much the person weighs and how fast the person is moving. Below is a table to calculate how many calories, in general, a person would burn by running or walking one mile.

Calories Burned Walking Vs Running

Activity
Total Calorie Burn Per Mile
Net Calorie Burn Per Mile
Walking
0.53 x your weight (lbs)
0.30 x your weight (lbs)
Running
0.75 x your weight (lbs)
0.63 x your weight (lbs)
Source: http://cyclingfitness.hubpages.com/_notmine/hub/Tips-How-To-Lose-Weight-Running

What is the Difference Between Net Calories and Total Calories?

No matter what you are doing, you are burning calories. The total calories are all calories burned during the activity. The net calories are the additional calories burned during the activity that would not have been burned had you just been laying quietly in bed.

When you are focusing on trying to lose weight, you need to focus more on how many net calories you are burning. This is because, when your goal is weight loss, you want to try to get as many extra calories burnt as you can. Only the net calories burned will show you the extra calories. If you determine how many calories per day you burn from just existing and then add to that the total calories your burned from activities; you will over calculate and possible end up gaining weight if you use this to decide how many calories to eat.

For more about counting calories, read: How to Lose Weight With Calorie Counting

The Numbers Add up

I want to show you an example of how much the numbers can add up if you are using the wrong calculations. In this example, I will use a 150 pound person (the gender doesn't really matter that much) and this person will be walking 14 miles per week or 2 miles per day.

Total Calories Burned: 150 lbs x 0.53 x 14 miles = 1,113 calories

Net Calories Burned: 150 lbs x 0.30 x 14 miles = 630 calories

This is a weekly difference of 483 calories! If this person was using the wrong numbers to calculate the number of calories burned and how many calories she should eat; she could potentially gain or not have lost 0.138 pounds per week that she thought she should be losing. If these mistakes were made for a whole year, the numbers would be off by 25,116 calories or roughly 7.18 pounds!

Why do we Burn More Calories per Mile Running?

It all comes down to exercise physiology; the calories burned during an activity are a direct result of the kind of movement performed during those activities.

When you are walking, your body weight stays centered over your feet for the most part. Your legs are also straight, for the most part during this activity. In running, your center of gravity is all over the place. You are basically jumping from one foot to the other when you run. You also bend at the knees while you run; raising your center of gravity up and down. Because running requires you to move your body weight up and down, compared to walking, you are in a bigger battle with gravity when you run. This is what causes the greater calorie burn while you run; you spend for energy (calories) fighting Earth's gravity. This is also why, someone who weighs more will burn more calories during any activity.

Do You Run or Walk to Lose Weight?

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Conclusions

When it comes to calories burned, a mile is not a mile. Make sure you factor in your weight and whether you are walking or running. It makes a big difference over time.

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    • profile image

      Rob 4 years ago

      Walking is so much easier! Or am I oversimplifying it?

    • Learning in Life profile image
      Author

      Megan Sisko 4 years ago from SW Florida

      I have always dreamed of running a marathon. But I usually just walk about 2 miles every day. That's when I get the most inspiration too!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My days of running are gone. I used to run in the 10K's and half-marathons, but it is just too hard on the knees now. I walk every day, though, and still hike in the mountains, so I'm not totally inactive. Good information my friend.