I’ve always been told that it doesn’t matter if you walk a mile or run a mile. Regardless, you burn the same amount of calories. After all, a mile is a mile. Is that really true?
Your question actually points to a very common misconception! Yes, a mile is always a mile. That doesn’t change. But the energy required to move your body across the distance varies depending on your speed.
In fact, there have been numerous studies on the topic including this paper from California State University. For the study, 15 male and 15 female college students were recruited. One day, participants ran a mile in 10 minutes. On another day, they walked a mile in just over 18 minutes. Afterwards, they sat quietly for 30 minutes.
The data was very clear. While walking burned 88.9 calories, running burned 112.5. Moreover, after running, participants continued to burn calories at a higher rate compared to walking. After the mile walk, 21.7 calories were burned. After the mile run, on the other hand, 46.1 calories were burned. In total, the run resulted in 43% more calories burned.
But wait there’s more.
The mile run took less time. And with our busy schedules, efficiency is certainly something to consider. If you want to get a lot of workout bang in a short amount of time, running definitely comes out on top.
The bottom line is that it takes more energy to move our bodies at high rates of speed. A more intense workout simply burns more calories. While walking is a great form of exercise – and certainly less likely to result in injury – it won’t result in the same calorie burn as a run.