Does walking burn more calories than running? My answer is …

Walking is human nature; we are born with the desire to do it and it takes only a few short months to master.  For the majority of the “toddler population,” it is common for the simple act of walking to soon lead to running.  These two activities are the most common mode of transportation known to mankind.

These two methods of transportation differ in a variety of ways.  Although walking speeds can vary greatly depending on factors such as height, weight, age, terrain, surface, load, culture, effort, and fitness level, the average walking speed for a human being is approximately 3.1 miles per hour.  When it comes to running, the typical person can run about 7 miles per hour, which takes approximately 8.5 minutes to run one complete mile.

Now I realize that if you had one mile to travel, running or jogging will allow you to arrive at your destination much more quickly than walking, but since each mode of transportation requires the body to move the same body weight over the same distance, it seems only logical that they should all burn the same amount of calories per mile.  Runners have been told for years that they burn 100 calories per mile ran: walkers have been told that they also burn 100 calories per mile walked.  But from personal experience, I do know that walking is a weight-bearing activity, allowing me to burn an excessive amount of calories and shed 162 pounds in 16 short months.  Does that mean that maybe, just maybe, walking burns more calories than we’ve been lead to believe?    That’s a large amount of weight burned off by the simple act of walking in my opinion, so does walking burn more calories than running?

According to David Swain, director of the Wellness Institute and Research Center at Old Dominion University, when you perform a continuous exercise, you burn five calories for every liter of oxygen you consume.  And running in general consumes a lot more oxygen than walking.

So, does that mean that running burns more calories per mile than the act of walking?   Sounds possible.   I then read about a group of Syracuse University researchers that measured the actual calorie burn of 12 men and 12 women while running and walking roughly a mile on a treadmill. The results were that the men burned an average of 124 calories while running – 88 calories while walking; the women burned 105 calories while running – 74 calories when running.  The results prove that running burns more calories per mile than walking.

After reading this article in its entirety, I have come to the understanding that walking doesn’t burn as many calories, but it remains a terrific exercise. As David Swain says, “The new research doesn’t mean that walking burns any fewer calories than it used to. It just means that walkers might have to walk a little more, or eat a little less, to hit their weight goal.”

Mr. Swain, I will accept that running burns more calories per mile, but to be perfectly honest I will continue to recommend walking!  Walking changed my life. I began my walking journey at a size 24 and arrived to my destination point a size 6 … it will always be my favorite mode of transportation!

Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

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