Does Running Burn More Calories than Walking?

Running his way into my heart.

Being in New York City and having walked nearly 100 blocks last night, I thought about the age-old adage that you burn as many calories walking as you do running. Obviously, this isn’t true per unit of time – you’d burn more calories running for ten minutes than walking for ten minutes. But what about per unit of distance? Would I have burned more calories if I had run the 100 blocks instead of walking them?

It turns out that the caloric difference between walking and running a mile is pretty minor, and that speed does play a small role. In general, the faster you go, the less efficient your body is – and thus, more calories burned. But the numbers aren’t as dramatic as you might expect and clearly a number of other variables come into play.

Calories burned per mile for a 160-lb person:

2.0 mph – 91
2.5 mph – 87
3.0 mph – 85
3.5 mph – 83
4.0 mph – 91
4.5 mph – 102
5.0 mph – 116
5.0 mph – 116
6.0 mph – 121
7.0 mph – 119
8.0 mph – 123
9.0 mph – 121
10.0 mph – 131

My 100-block walk was about 5 miles and we managed a 4.5 mph clip. That’s 510 calories. If I had done a fast 9 mph run, it would have amounted to 605 calories. That’s not a big difference considering the exertion of a 9 mph run. Of course, the run would have taken half the time – but with increased joint stress or injury risk than walking.

Just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see why walkers swear by the exercise. Of course, calories burned while exercising don’t tell the full story. Runners can enjoy significant benefits after exercise is complete – like the huge metabolic increases associated with interval training. Plus, sweat is good for your body – and really great for your skin.

Are you a walker or a runner? What do you like best about it?

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  1. im a walker, im overweight and running makes me pump to hard, so i cant handle it for distance.

    • Carina

      If it’s hard just slow down a bit, make it fun enjoy it and you will really see a change in the long term. You will be pleasently suprised at some point you will be able to go 5-12 miles and feel wonderful. I read this book recently called born to Run it was very inspirational.

  2. I just moved to LA from Chicago last week.

    I’ve been walking endlessly learning my way around – I was really curious If I should take all the walking into account when figuring out my caloric needs because I’m also trying to build more muscle.

    I just found this blog tonight from your twitter.

    Thanks a lot dude – love the site.

  3. Having just finished a 20-mile run this morning, it is a little frustrating to find that running is only marginally better than walking. But, I feel great and, now with a coffee in hand, am ready to take on the world! And since I’ve burned about a whole day’s calorie intake, I can eat just about anything at the office party!

  4. Just in terms of calories Nick.

    You still burn more fat running – Interval training is the best.

    You make new heart vessels when you run – a principle reason why less cardiovascular disease in people that do huffing & puffing type exercise…

    Even though there isn’t a huge calorie discrepancy you still receive a ton of benefits from running.

  5. Hi DaveyWavey,

    maybe you should put running and walking in context with the heart rate. so as carina said (December 18, 2010 at 8:56 am), to much effort while running will cut her air.

    How much energy burned is one thing, from where you get what you burn is the other. If you run like hell and running anaerobic metabolism, you won’t work out for fitness, do you?!

    greets & happy christmas time in NY

  6. i love walking. but i run whenever i am on a treadmill, so i do both. and i walk home after working out.

  7. I love running. The area I run is pretty hilly which helps with my speed. They say a hill workout is really a speed workout in disguise. Running is the best way to stay in shape. Remember there is a dumb saying: “runners are going some place.” lol Dorky

  8. you must factor in the after-burn effect tho

  9. Don’t forget that running also places more stress on the leg and core muscles, thus improving their strength in the course of a workout.

  10. I am a walker…. I use to actually LOVE the aspect of running. Coming out of US National Gymnast training we were pushed to get the aspect of running into our daily schedule. Obviously for the benefits of the stamina as well as the enhanced breathing and lung endurance that it gave us. Bust as I age a little (and deal with the many injuries I sustained along the way) I understand and greatly APPRECIATE the benefits that come with walking.

    I find it rather interesting that there is really such a little difference, and with that information many people should see that even a walk can help just as much as the avid runners!

    Thanks DAVEY!


  11. I discovered this year that walking jogging running in combination at least 30 40 min a day, has been greatly bennificial, I am up to 3 miles at lunch about every other day and go for 1.5 to 2.5 hour Walk/Run/Jogs (WRJS)I call them. They are fun and you dont get hurt, from two much of one thing, I have also tried some barefoot 1-2 milers it has been great. Lost about 40-50 pounds this year and the doc has taken me of one of 2 BP Meds, colesteral is with in specs too. I am Down to 210lbs and lost 3 inches of waist. I can see 34-35 ” waist and 170 lbs by this time next year. Oh do keep track of calorie intake its a math game 2 hour (WRJS) is worth a loss of 1000 calories! We are Running People just got to re-learn how to do it!

    Davey I enjoy your sight and tips thanks.

  12. Christopher says:

    I run at least 8 miles a day.5 if there is too much to do. 15 on my over eating days. Except last week, in which I somehow logged in 83 miles. I run at 8.5 mph on a CUSHIONED treadmill.

  13. Maybe the reason running is less efficient is because we don’t do it enough. It’s like lifting weights, the more we practice a skill, the more efficient we get at doing it, so the less energy we waste.

    I expect for less active people, running will burn far more calories. We are practiced walkers and have made a habit out of doing so minimizing energy (unless you are cool and strut with splayed legs doing lunge-frontsplits with yo strides) whereas we haven’t learned to minimize energy in running since we are unpractised in it.

    For pro runners (marathoners for example) the practise and repetition would make them much more efficient. If it’s at the point where you are running more often than you run, I’d wager it’s even possible that running could burn fewer calories per distance, though it will still be a superior investment due to the time factor.

  14. There has always been a controversy between the merits of running vs walking. Poking around the net there are a lot of varied arguments, even conflicting results. I find just as much experiments with hard data that conclude running = walking as to running > walking

    The adage that say walking 10 miles has the same amount of work (Joules) as running 10 miles is very misleading

    first of all, if you run or walk for 10 miles but return to the exact place you started the run (you car for example), technically speaking, you did ZERO WORK, no Joules expended (this is High School Physics, work = force x displacement)

    secondly, it’s not fair to measure calories burned by Joules (unit of work) expended. Rather, POWER directly relates to physical exertion. Power = Work / Time
    The faster you accomplish work (travel 10 miles), the more power is needed. Running 10 miles in 40 minutes requires more power than walking 10 miles in two hours.

    Energy consumption of electrical appliances (light bulbs, heaters etc.) are measured in Watts, which is a unit of power

    Power is the rate of energy “consumed” (technically correct term: transformed)

    • Fella, coming back to the same place doesn’t mean zero work. This isn’t classic physics, and your other arguments are incredibly out of place.

  15. Why is there a drop in calorie number from 2.0mph to 2.5mph?

    “2.0 mph โ€“ 91
    2.5 mph โ€“ 87
    3.0 mph โ€“ 85”

    I’m assuming it’s a typo

  16. running vs walking running is good for weight loss off absolutely every thing it burns fat,muscles,carbs it uses all the available resource of energy to sustain such a intense activity, walking on the other hand is good if your doing weight training to sustain muscle and recovery, 20-40 minute of light cardio after a heavy session will insure fat burning.

  17. Runners Burn More Calories

    In 2004, researchers at Syracuse University published the results of a study quantifying calories burned by runners and walkers. They measured the calorie burn of 12 male and 12 female subjects as they both ran and walked for 1600 meters on a track and a treadmill. Runners moved at 2.82 meters per second. Walkers traveled at 1.41 meters per second. Researchers measured net calorie burn — the total amount burned by the activity minus the amount the subjects would have burned had they been at rest — and found that both men and women burned significantly more calories running than walking. Men running on the treadmill averaged 437 kilojoules, or 104 calories, while women averaged 378 kilojoules, or 90 calories. Walking men averaged 216 kilojoules, or about 52 calories, while walking women averaged 177 kilojoules, or about 42 calories.

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