Friday, September 29, 2023

How to Run or Walk To Burn More Calories?

Over a kilometre, a run burns the same calories independent of the speed, while a walk consumes a wide range of calories based on the walking speed.


  • Per kilometre, running at different speeds burns the same calories, while walking consumes a wide range based on the walking speed.
  • A fitness program specifying exercise duration or distance, need not mention the speed for a run but should for a walk.

The Science

Many fitness or weight loss plans involve runs or walks. However, performing them at different speeds will change the calories burnt, needing an adjustment in their duration or distance.

Calorie Consumption in Walking

  • Walking at speeds between 3 and 12 km/hour burns between 0.75 and 1.5 calories/km/kg, a wide variation.
  • Walking at 4 km/hour burns the least—0.75 calories/km/kg.

Most people walk at leisurely speeds of three to four kilometres per hour. However, some fitness programs recommend speed-walking which can be very strenuous at faster speeds.

Calorie Consumption in Running

  • Running at speeds between 4 and 12 km/hour burns about 0.9 calories/km/kg of body weight.
  • Walking or running at 7 km/hour, a person burns the same calories—0.9 calories/km/kg.

This suggests that people who don’t want the running impact forces could consider speed walking at 7 km/hour for calorie expenditure, though the set of muscles used in walking is somewhat different from the one used for running.

graph of calories burnt versus running and walking speeds
Ref: Energy Costs of Walking and Running

Afterburn Effect (EPOC)

  • After a walk or run, more calories are burnt as the body cools down. This process is called ‘afterburn’ or, technically, excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC).
  • The more intense the workout, the more the afterburn; running generally burns more calories than walking in the EPOC period as it is more strenuous at typical speeds.

Outdoors Versus Treadmills

  • Running outdoors or on a treadmill burns the same amount of calories—0.9 calories/km/kg—till the speed crosses 13 km/hour.
  • After that, air resistance increases calorie burn meaningfully (two to six per cent, depending on the speed) in outdoor runs compared to treadmill ones.

Trained Versus Untrained

The chart indicates calorie consumption for people who regularly exercise. If all other things are the same:

  • Untrained people (who don’t exercise at all) use about ten per cent more calories than indicated in the chart.
  • Extremely fit athletes consume roughly ten per cent lesser calories than the chart shows.

You should adjust for these variations in a weight-loss or fitness exercise program.

To Read More

First Published on: 23rd May 2023
Image Credit: Kampus Production on Pexels


  1. Thanks for the article – I find these nuggets valuable. The burn rate for running vs a brisk walk is counterintuitive- what about EPOC for running – would that make it more valuable as a better activity (for calorie/fat burning) as compared to walking?


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