Calories burned running vs walking

People who exercise often want to know how many calories they are burning… least I  I do anyway!

Many of today’s machines have this function built right into the processor. In fact, even some of the older model machines  give the athlete a good indication of how many calories they’ve burned while doing their daily routines.

Athletes who don’t use machines though often have the same questions.

How many calories burned running vs. walking?

Some say that calories burned running vs walking is the same. ….But the truth is  different. ……and it isn’t what you may think.

The truth is this ….speed does matter; as well as how much weight is being carried and how much oxygen is burned.

It’s a combination that can work to your advantage to walk quickly or run slowly or run quickly.  

You can anticipate those numbers to give yourself the best advantage when working toward burning the most number of calories.

The calories burned running vs. walking has been studied from different angles and at different universities. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise researchers measured the actual calorie burn of 12 men and 12 women while running and walking. The results showed that the men, who weighed more, burned more calories and in both groups the running burned more calories than the walking.

Part of the explanation for these differences is based on oxygen consumption. For every liter of oxygen you consume you will burn 5 calories. And because running involves the consumption of more oxygen it stands to reason that it also burns more calories. However, when the body weight is great and the physical abilities of the body are limited walking also increases oxygen consumption.

In general, controlling for weight, physical abilities and oxygen consumption the differences between calories burned running vs walking is that runners burn an average of 10 calories each minute while walkers burn an average of 5 calories per minutes.

But, let’s look at this equation. If an obese man with poor physical abilities walks quickly his calorie burn will be greater because of the increased oxygen consumption and weight. But as his physical ability increases and weight decreases the number of calories burned for the same perceived effort will be less.

There is a distinct advantage to running when comparing calories burned running vs. walking. That advantage is the decreased amount of time needed to burn the same number of calories. This is an advantage that many runner find fits well in the fast paced, little off-time society in which we live. When an athlete has only 20 minutes to work out they can burn 200 calories as opposed to the 100 calories a walker will burn.

However, running has been known to increase the wear and tear on the cartilage and discs of the knee and hip joints. The increase amount of weight that lands on those joints throughout a run or jog puts added stress to the joints. Walking quickly may also increase the oxygen consumption and therefore the calories burned without adding stress to the knee and hip joints; a happy medium that may help athletes to continue working out when the knees and hips are complaining from the pounding.


Harvard Health Publications: Walking Your Steps to Health
Runners World: Running V. Walking How Many Calories will you burn
Runners World: How Many Calories are you really burning
Active: Running Versus Walking Which Burns More Calories

Running Good for your Health?


People who want to start running are looking for the reasons why running is good for your health. Runners also want confirmation that running, amid some of the bad press that  surrounds different sports, really isn’t as bad as the press  makes it out to be.

So what is the truth?

The truth is  that running can be good and running can be bad for your health.

Knowing the good and the bad of running will help you  prevent what is bad  and revel in the good.


Let’s start with the aspects about running that are good, in fact really good for your health.

Firstly running reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. This  is the number one killer of women.

In the Nurses Health Study conducted  between Harvard Medical School and Brigham the Women’s Hospital researchers found that women who were most active had a heart attack rate that was 44% less than  women who were sedentary. (1)

Running has other good effects on the risk of cardiovascular disease. These include strengthening the heart muscle, reducing the risk of clots , preventing the hardening of  arteries, lowering triglycerides and cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol. HDL is the good cholesterol

Research published by Dr. Williams at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California found that the runners who enjoyed high mileage weeks had the highest effect on raising the HDL while those who concentrated on speed work had the effect on lowering their triglycerides. (2)

Running also reduces a person’s heart rate and blood pressure. This a happens as a result of the heart muscle becoming stronger and the less hardening of the arteries which causes high blood pressure.

Most good cardiovascular exercises  like running, reduce the risk of stroke which is the second leading killer of women. The risk of stroke is reduced by the  lower blood pressure and a strong cardiovascular system. Studies have also shown that physical activity will lower the risk of breast cancer.  A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that those who were most active had a 37% lower risk of breast cancer compared to the group of women who are sedentary.

Physical exercise also improves the immune system. Researchers have found higher levels of lymphocytes in the blood during and after exercise. These are white blood cells that attack disease. It appears that these cells multiply  during physical activity to protect the body. This effect can also be negative  when the runner does a  high mileage, such as in a marathon.  The lymphocytes are depleted after these activities and this can leave the athlete open to viral infections

Running and other physical activities help diabetics to  control their blood sugar, and also keeps the intestinal tract running regularly. Running enhances and strengthens your respiratory system and also helps to ease menstrual and post menopausal symptoms. lastly Running  helps  prevent bone loss associated with age and so protects against osteoporosis.

As you can see there are many reasons that running is good for your health however there are several things that may have a negative impact on your health as well.

Lets get something clear running does not have to be  bad knees, torn cartilage and ripped tendons. If you run to stay fit, say about 30 minutes several times each week, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

On the other hand, when you push your body beyond these limits you are heading for performance and performance is more than just fitness, it pushes you body to the limit. This pushing your body can result in damaged cartilage, torn tendons and  will potentially increases your risk of arthritis.

Of course Knowing these risks will help you  prevent the damage by protecting your joints through doing stretches and strengthening those muscles that support the ankle, knee and hip joints. It is very important that You  listen to your body and when it is telling you it has had enough then listen to what your body is saying and don’t push. It can be fun to run a couple of 10K races but unless your aspirations and talents, have you heading towards the Olympics then choosing fitness may be your best option.

If you  are looking for some advice on how to start your running program….There’s a running program out there now that can help…

The guy who put this fantastic running program for beginners together is an experienced personal trainer from the UK called Jago Holmes and you can find out all about his training program for beginners here.



(1) Nurses Health Study Newsletter

(2) Berkeley Lab: National Runners Health Study: Fleetest are Healthiest


Active: 10 Reasons Running is Good for You
Training Peaks: A Runners Guide to Fabulous Abs

BeliefNet: 6 Reasons Why Running Keeps You Happy and Healthy

Runners World: Why Trail Running is Good for You
Boston: Is Running the Boston Marathon Good for You

MensHealth: Are You Running Yourself to Death

NHS: Running and Walking Both Good for Your heart

Harvard School of Public Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity