Running can burn a lot of calories and help you lose weight. But what about walking? Can you reach your weight loss goal by walking, too?
How do these two activities compare?
Everyone knows a 15-minute run burns more calories than a 15-minute walk. But what if you focus on distance instead of time?
In other words…
How would a 1 kilometer run compare to a 1 kilometer walk in terms of calories burned?
Walking vs. running – a burning question
Running is a more intense activity, so it burns more calories per minute than walking. However, as walking is slower, it takes longer to walk 1 kilometer than to run it.
Here’s the dilemma:
- Running 1 km = more (↑) calories burned per minute, less (↓) minutes being active
- Walking 1 km = (↓) calories burned per minute, (↑) minutes being active
So, which burns more calories in total?
Many factors influence the calorie burn of both activities (age, weight, fitness level, pace, surface…). But if you compare calorie burn for the same distance, the most important factor is speed.
Speed makes a difference
In theory, there is a speed at which walking and running would burn approximately the same calories (per minute). It is 〜8 km/h.
However, that’s a very fast walking pace only trained race walkers could manage. For the general population, a fast walking speed is 〜5-6 km/h. But when you run, 〜8 km/h is a very slow jog.
Now you must be wondering… what about running or walking at different speeds?
Walkers will burn significantly less at slower speeds and runners will, of course, burn more if they run faster.
But here’s the trick:
Once you reach a certain running speed, further increases in calorie burn per minute are minimal. The biggest difference in calories burned can be seen when comparing a 1 km slow walk to a 1 km fast run.
Why is the difference in calorie burn between a moderate and a fast run so small?
We can walk very slowly, but there is a limit to how fast we can run. The speed increase from a slow walk to a moderate run can be 50-100%. However, the faster we run, the closer we are to our limit. Small increases in speed require a lot of effort but result in only a minor increase in calories burned.
Want to see how many calories you burn?
The calculator below shows you approximately how many calories you burn walking vs. running at a set speed. The calories are calculated per 1 km and per 1 hour.
Calories burned walking vs. running (calculator)
*This calculator is based on METs (metabolic equivalents) for physical activity provided by the Compendium of Physical Activities. The calculations will differ from actual calories burned to the individual differences as well as the possible afterburn effect.
Should you run or walk if you want to lose weight?
Benefits of running for weight loss
- Studies show that running the same distance can burn 〜30% more calories than walking
- If you run at high-intensity, you can benefit from additional calorie burn due to the afterburn effect
- It’s a good choice if you want to burn more calories in less time
Want to start running? Track your runs, set up training plans, and get motivated with friends in the Runtastic App.
Don’t worry if running is not your activity of choice, walking has amazing benefits and can help you lose weight as well.
Benefits of walking for weight loss
- Due to less intensity, a higher percentage of calories burned comes from fat
- One hour walks can be relaxing and you can burn 200+ calories
- Less stress on your muscles and joints
- You can easily add walking minutes to your day without scheduling a special “workout”
Want to lose weight walking? Get walking plans and more in the Steps App.
Even if running burns more calories, both running and walking are good activities to help you lose weight. Why?
Because if you reduce your calorie intake (how much you eat), both of these activities can provide enough extra calorie burn for successful weight loss.
Changing your nutrition is what really speeds up weight loss. If you choose healthier foods, learn to prep your meals, and start tracking your food, you will lose weight no matter which activity you choose.
Here’s what you should know about burning calories walking vs. running:
- Running burns more calories per minute than walking, but it’s harder to keep the high-intensity for a long time.
- There is a 〜30% difference in calorie burn between a slow walk and a moderate run for the same distance. Further increases in running speed won’t cause a dramatic increase in calories burned.
- Both walking and running burn enough calories to help you lose weight if you make necessary changes to your nutrition at the same time.
Walking and running the same distance won’t burn the same calories, unless you do it at the same speed – which is quite unlikely.
Finally, go running, walking, or both – choose the activity that makes you feel good. That way you are more likely to stay active and burn calories more often!