Running For Weight Loss – Is It Better Than Walking?

women running

Today we are going to reveal the truth about running and weight loss.

After all, running for weight loss is one of the main reasons people run.

For the longest time, I believed that I was WAY ahead of the walkers on the calorie burn curve being the avid runner that I am.

After all, walking simply isn’t as demanding as running, has anyone ever heard of a walker’s high?

I haven’t; that exhilarating feeling of having accomplished a run is irresistible to those who become acquainted with it.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a thread online where people were busy proclaiming that there is no difference between walking a mile and running one!

And as it turns out, the opinion is heavily divided!

No, I refused to buy that and after a lot of research, I can safely say that I am perfectly right.

At first glance, the math seems to support the argument – running for weight loss for a mile should be no different from walking one.

While you are running, you are simply using up the same amount of fuel that you will consume walking the distance, only quicker.

When you walk, you cover the distance over a longer period of time, but since it is essentially the same distance that you are moving your weight over, the number of calories burnt should be no different from running.

However there are many other changes that occur in the body during running to lose weight; for instance, have you ever experienced elevated heart beat or began to sweat profusely after walking a mile?

Probably not, and that is the reason why losing weight by running is so much better.running to lose weight

See, the equation to find out how many calories that you have burnt takes a lot more into account than just distance covered and time – it also includes your heart rate, weight and age.

All of these are crucial factors that regulate your body’s metabolism during physical activity.

Running also leads to an “after-burn” effect where your heightened metabolism causes you to burn more calories even after you have finished running.

For the record, the above mentioned formula to calculate how many calories are burnt is…

For Men: Calories Burned = [(Age x 0.2017) — (Weight x 0.09036) + (Heart Rate x 0.6309) — 55.0969] x Time / 4.184.


For Women: Calories Burned = [(Age x 0.074) — (Weight x 0.05741) + (Heart Rate x 0.4472) — 20.4022] x Time / 4.184.

Along Comes Research…

So far everything we are talking about is theoretical.

It seems reasonable to assume that you may lose the same amount of calories walking as you do running, but there is ample reason to believe that running trumps walking as far as weight loss goes as well.

Fortunately, some researchers at the California State University decided to put an end to the debate by conducting an intensive study on the difference between running and walking.

In the paper they published, titled – Energy, expenditure comparison between walking and running in average fitness individuals which can be found here, they prove that running leads to a lot more caloric loss than walking.

The study included 15 male and 15 female college students weighing 156 pounds on an average.

They ran one mile in 18:36 minutes on one day and then ran one mile again the next day in 10:00 minutes.

After each session they rested for 30 minutes.

The results of this test were very telling, here is a chart detailing how many calories they lost (averaged out of course):

running chart

As you can see from the findings above, running the same distance seems to be causing nearly 26% more caloric burn than walking.

The California State University study findings were further mirrored by another, similar study that was conducted by Syracuse University researchers.

In said research, conducted on 12 men and 12 women, the team found that the men burned on an average 124 calories per mile while running as compared to 88 calories while walking.

The women on the other hand 105 calories while running, and 74 calories while walking the same distance.

Why Is Running For Weight Loss So Much Better Than Walking?

Good question, however if we are to factor in certain bio-chemical elements involved during running, then a clearer picture emerges.

David Swain, a Ph.D in exercise physiology and the director of the Wellness Institute and Research Center at Old Dominion University says that – “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.”

This makes good sense.

While we are running for weight loss, our muscles go into overdrive that causes them to use up more calories and you begin to breathe harder to provide your muscles with the oxygen needed to do so.

How To Lose Weight Running Better



So, we can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that running to lose weight is the better alternative, and there is good data to support this conclusion too.


If you are an experienced runner, be reassured that your efforts were not wasted, however if you are looking to get started, then here are some tips that will help:



  • First off, always spend about 5 minutes warming up before starting a run. Warm up is crucial to ensure that you do not incur an injury during running.
  • Look straight ahead, try and keep your head focused about 10 to 15 feet ahead of you.
  • Keep your hands about as high as your waist, folded at the elbow, don’t let them bounce around.
  • Maintain a steady, straight posture. Don’t lean forward or backwards from the waist. There is a tendency amongst runners to start doing this after they become fatigued, so check yourself periodically.
  • Maintain a steady, low stride. Don’t bounce from one step to the next as too much vertical movement can cause you to over exert and injure yourself.
  • Start nice and easy. It is habitual among humans to overdo something when we are inspired or motivated. If you cannot run for a mile on the first day, that’s ok, neither could most of the other runners. Your aim should be to lose weight running continuously.

Hope these tips and information help.

Running to lose weight is a great and time tested way to ensure a good, functional and fit physique.

As long as it is done properly, you can be rest assured that you will lose weight and also keep it down.

Now that you are well educated about how to lose weight by running, take a look at my review of the best running shoes for women, and get out there and shed those pounds!

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