When I heard that running and walking the same distance burns the same amount of calories, I’ll admit– it made me a little overjoyed. Well, though it may be obvious to some, this is completely false. Don’t believe me? Just keep reading.
It all comes down to simple logic, and some complicated science. For starters, distance alone does not determine the total calorie burn (TCB) of exercise. Rather, TCB is primarily dependent on the duration and intensity of exercise, and your weight and fitness level.
According to “Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running” — a study conducted by Syracuse researchers in 2004 — their male subjects burned 124 calories running, 88 walking; the women, 105 and 74. Clearly, running burns more calories — about 50% as much, mathematically speaking. But that’s not to say that you can’t burn the same amount of calories walking as you can when you run. Did I just contradict everything I said before this? Nope. Allow me to explain.
When you exercise at a lower intensity, you burn fewer calories. But if you exercise for a longer amount of time, you can burn the same amount of calories you’d burn running for a shorter amount of time. For example, according to www.caloriesperhour, I would burn 164 calories walking 2 miles in 1 hour versus 164 calories running 1.5 miles 15 minutes.
And as mentioned before, your weight and level of fitness will also impact the amount of calories you burn in a given amount of time. Those who are heavier will burn more calories while those who are fit tend to burn less calories—but more from fat.
Apart from all the science and math, one overarching conclusion remains: while running is time-efficient and excellent for burning calories, walking still makes for great exercise. Just keep in mind — you’ll need more patience.