Monday, May 18, 2009

Burn More Calories by Walking Fast

A 2006 article in Runner's World compares the calories burned walking to running and the results were actually surprising to me. Like many people, including Amby Burfoot, the author of the article, I had heard many times that walking burns about 100 calories a mile, just like running.

Amby reported that in the article "Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running," published in December 2005 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a group of Syracuse University researchers measured the calorie burn of 12 men and 12 women while running and walking 1,600 meters (roughly a mile) on a treadmill. "Result: The men burned an average of 124 calories while running, and just 88 while walking; the women burned 105 and 74. (The men burned more than the women because they weighed more.)" Part of the reason runners burn more calories is the push off and landing that doesn't happen in walking and the faster heart rate.

Now here's the part that got me -- the researchers compared running a 9:30 mile to walking a 19:00 min mile! That doesn't seem quite fair.

The author must have agreed because he decided to see what would happen if he compared running and walking at the same speeds: 3.0 mph, 3.5 mph, 4.0 mph, 4.5 mph, 5.0 mph and 5.5 mph. What he learned is that at paces slower than 12 min per mile, running was harder than walking. At paces faster than 12 min per mile, walking was harder than running.

According to Amby: "...walking at very fast speeds forces your body to move in ways it wasn't designed to move. This creates a great deal of internal 'friction' and inefficiency, which boosts heart rate, oxygen consumption, and calorie burn. So, as Jon Stewart might say, 'Walking fast ... good. Walking slow ... uh, not so much.'"

So let's all burn more calories by walking really fast. And, Amby, thanks for the vindication!


Tammy said...

Yeah, I had heard this before about the 12-min mile being the breakpoint for running vs. walking. If you have never read Casey Meyers' excellent book "Walking: The Complete Guide to the Complete Exercise" you ought to pick up a copy. You'd enjoy it and it has studies like that one and more :).

Charlie said...

The other way of looking at this information is that walking naturally is more efficient than running. If you hike long distances and you are carrying all your supplies, walking can take you farther. Learning to walk efficiently and naturally may have the greatest health benefits.

Cindi said...

The only thing I didn't like about the study is that they initially compared running to walking so slow. I do know many people who walk that pace or used to be at that pace. However, the majority of walkers I know are faster than that. I felt that by using a slower walking pace they were not treating walkers like athletes.

But, comparing walking to running at the same pace was very useful! I hope I can some day get down to a 12-min mile!

Cindi said...

Tammy, I'll look for that book. Thanks!

Charlie said...

My daily mileages for hiking east coast of the North American continent were in the 20's, which distance hikers consider to be very "fast," yet my pace worked out to 2.64 miles per hour at most.

Going slower allowed me burn less calories and go farther.

Cindi said...

I'm glad you pointed out that hiking is slower and more efficient. I really enjoy hiking but never connected that the slower pace was a good thing.

Stratzol said...

In a weight loss program, a split routine is an efficient way to burn calories. Gradual increase with the harder workout at a fairly slow pace and vice versa.