It comes as we first learn to crawl, then walk and then at times, we run. All of the above are great ways to get fit and stay healthy as part of an overall program, but which is truly better for burning more overall calories in a quest for fat loss?
Let’s just assume that you have grown out of your crawling phase and are more intent to walk or run. Some are convinced that just as a pound is a pound is a pound, a mile crossed whether it is walking or running will equal the same caloric expenditure, but the law in regards to weight just doesn’t transfer to your calorie burn.
Walking is something that we as humans don’t really need to think about or learn beyond our toddler years. We just sort of grow into it with some basic practice and don’t have to worry too much about the risks of injury with walking.
Proper running mechanics is something you must actually learn. This is due to the complexity of running biomechanics versus walking. As you running speed increases, so does the speed of your gait increase and as a result, yourbody lowers its center of gravity.
With the lowered center of gravity and increased speed, there is an increase in the flexion of the hips and knees, culminating in the dorsiflexion at the ankle joint. In layman’s terms, your body uses more overall muscle mass – more glute and calf activation for push off than there is during walking, and at a higher rate of contraction.
In order to keep yourself propelling forward in a safe manner, you must also keep your abs tight while swinging your arms in a more forceful manner than you would while walking. Again this means your body is working harder and burning more calories.
With walking, you also sort of naturally propel forward in a mostly a linear fashion. To prevent injury, you want to be sure you stay aligned and not have your arms flailing or crossing over your body. In running, this requires more effort from all of your stabilizing muscles and your larger muscles as well. Your body was designed for walking and is efficient at it but not so much with running, which requires more effort – a higher heart rate, breathing rate and calorie burn.
When it comes to running and walking, you have to consider the obvious no brainer that in the time it takes you to walk a mile, you can cover, say, two miles running – more overall burn in less time with running than walking. A study done at Syracuse University showed that running a mile in 9 minutes 30 seconds versus walking the same mile in 19 minutes burned more calories:
Male subjects burned 105 calories running and 52 walking
Women subjects burned 91 calories running and 43 walking
Clearly the better choice here for a better burn is running but don’t shy away from walking as it helps to calm the mind and is also a great way to stay active without overkill on the days you don’t run.