Why does running a mile burn more calories than walking a mile?

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The distance is the same, but your burn more calories while running. Also does temperature affect the effectiveness of your workout? Does running a mile in 90 degree weather burn more calories than doing the same distance in 50 degrees?

In: Biology

Simply put, it takes more energy to move your legs faster. Your body needs more oxygen and your heart starts beating faster to start delivering more blood (with oxygen) to your muscles that are using it up. Your body’s also breaking down more nutrients, especially sugars, to help make sure you’ve got the energy you need to keep sustaining that running pace.

You do burn more by running, but the difference between walking and running isn’t that large. Running takes more effort, but you get done faster; walking takes less effort, but you’re doing it for a longer period of time. Running burns slightly more calories because of the added verticality in each step plus exaggerated arm swings. You’re expending more energy per step than when walking is essentially the reason.

Basically becuase you are also jumping slightly with every running step. A more fair comparison would be hiking on an incline vs. running.

I’ll take the temperature question – short answer: not really.

The biomachinery that burns calories during a run isn’t affected by the air temperature. However, *being cold* does affect your metabolism. Since burning calories produces heat, and your body wants to be warm, when you’re cold your body will burn extra calories to balance the heat loss.

Running is less efficient than walking. When you run, you exert a lot more force via your legs and arms, violently ramming your feet into the ground, while furiously flinging your arms to keep balance. (overexaggerated for effect)

So you spend more total energy than if you simply slow-walked the same distance, where you have a much finer control over how much your body parts move and with how much force.

There is a trade-off with the total time it takes, as breathing and heartbeat and thinking and keeping warm all consume energy over time as well, but there is a sweet spot for most efficient movement somewhere between a slow stroll and a hard run, and it’s much closer to the slow stroll.

So if your intention is to conserve energy, go slow. If you want to burn fat, also go slow, because you can keep that up for much longer than running hard, thus burning more calories overall. If you want to burn as many calories as you can in a fixed amount of time, run fast. 🙂