Why Running a Mile Burns More Calories Than Walking

In today’s episode, you are going to learn why running a mile burns more calories than walking a mile. Plus, you'll learn how to burn more calories in your own exercise, even if you’re not a runner.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #298

The researchers concluded that: "The increased caloric cost during the resting component is believed to be due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. These results suggest that predictive formulas significantly underestimate the total caloric cost during work/rest exercise. Work/rest cycles utilized in an occupational setting may underestimate the total amount of work performed and result in chronic caloric deficits”.

So it turns out that if a caloric deficit is what you’re going after, the harder you push on, say, a treadmill session in which you’re moving three miles, the more calories you’ll burn long after the exercise is complete. You can check out the image below to see how much the measured versus the predicted energy changed from group to group:

How Hard Should You Work to Boost Your Metabolism?

So does this means you must always do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) when you exercise? Not necessarily. Another recent study entitled "EPOC Following High Intensity Aerobic Intervals and Moderate Intensity Aerobic Exercise” from the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal showed that high intensity intervals resulted in greater EPOC than moderate aerobic exercise of the same energy expenditure, but only for the first 10 minutes post exercise, which isn’t very long. This means that when  it comes to calorie burn, it’s probably more important to simply “move fast” versus always feeling as though you need to  perform interval training. In this particular study, the non HIIT group performed 30 minutes at about 50% intensity and the HIIT group performed 10x1 minute at about 90% intensity for the 1 minute efforts, with 1 minute of active rest between each effort. And again: there wasn’t a huge difference in calorie burn post-exercise between the two groups.

Ultimately the takeaway message is this: if your goal is to “boost your metabolism” and burn as many calories as possible, move fast and powerful when you exercise. Sure, there are some times when you want exercise to be relaxing, or a form of moving meditation, or an opportunity to work on sport specific skill, strength, etc., in which case “always moving fast” may not be best. But if your goal pure calorie burn, intensity is key.

Do you have more questions, comments or feedback about why running a mile burns more calories than walking a mile? Join the conversation at Facebook.com/getfitguy.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.