# How many calories am I burning?July 1, 2008 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Does one burn the same amount of energy going slower & longer as going faster & shorter?

If I walk 5 miles in 2 hours, do I burn the same amount of calories as if I jog the same 5 miles in one hour, or if I run it in 30 minutes?
posted by Carsey to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

No.
posted by contraption at 1:13 PM on July 1, 2008

Here's a good interactive calculator.
posted by Robson at 1:21 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

According to that link, running at 5mph for two hours burns the same as running at 10mph for one hour, which in that case would mean yes.
posted by Iteki at 1:22 PM on July 1, 2008

Running is less efficient than walking. As for different running speeds, I think that will depend on the individual. Someone who runs a lot will be more efficient while running faster while someone who isn't used to running will be more efficient while running slower.
posted by ssg at 1:23 PM on July 1, 2008

No? That page says that if you weigh 190 lbs and run 10 miles in one hour, you will burn 1380 calories, and that if you run 10 miles in two hours, you will burn 1380 calories; the same amount.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 1:23 PM on July 1, 2008

But if you weigh 190 pounds and run 10 miles in 1 hour 20 minutes, (7.5 mph) you burn 1437 calories, according to that page.

I agree it does make a difference, but I don't trust the numbers in that chart at all.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2008

Running vs. Walking.
posted by Craig at 1:46 PM on July 1, 2008

Yes, the amount of calories you burn is a function of the weight moved over a distance. It doesn't really make any difference how quickly you move that weight. There are actually some minor differences that have to do with things like momentum and wind resistance, but for all practical purposes, if you are a human being trying to measure how many calories you burn when you exercise, it doesn't make any difference if you run a mile or walk a mile.
posted by thomas144 at 1:51 PM on July 1, 2008

oops, picked a bad chart. Obviously there is a most efficient way of moving around and the numbers should be different, but whoever built that chart probably just used a constant value for their estimates. Apologies for just grabbing the first numbers I could find and not verifying that they matched up with my claim. I just saw the "X min mile" next to the numbers for the running counts and thought they were listed by distance instead of time.
posted by contraption at 1:53 PM on July 1, 2008

Yes, the amount of calories you burn is a function of the weight moved over a distance. It doesn't really make any difference how quickly you move that weight. There are actually some minor differences that have to do with things like momentum and wind resistance, but for all practical purposes, if you are a human being trying to measure how many calories you burn when you exercise, it doesn't make any difference if you run a mile or walk a mile.

This is off-topic, but cars don't work that way, right? driving faster is less fuel-efficient...right? Why would humans work differently than cars?
posted by goethean at 2:02 PM on July 1, 2008

No, from another source.
posted by epugachev at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2008

Yes, the amount of calories you burn is a function of the weight moved over a distance. It doesn't really make any difference how quickly you move that weight.

If this were true, jogging in place would burn no calories.
posted by contraption at 2:07 PM on July 1, 2008

Yes, the amount of calories you burn is a function of the weight moved over a distance. It doesn't really make any difference how quickly you move that weight.

The journal article ssg links above shows about 40% more calories burned when running (~6.3 mph) compared to walking (~3.2 mph) the same distance.

Why would humans work differently than cars?

In fairness, at the speed humans run, overcoming friction with the ground is the major factor, and air resistance is minor in comparison. At car speeds, air resistance becomes a significant factor. But your basic point is right: neither cars nor people consume a fixed amount of fuel per mile traveled.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:13 PM on July 1, 2008

Rather than rate and distance, I always thought the key was getting up to and maintaining a percentage (generally 70-85%) of your Maximum Heart Rate for a specified period, or is that just for cardio health as opposed to "burning energy" by which I assume you mean weight loss. The better shape you are in the quicker you can get up to your MHR, and the less time you have to spend maintaining it for the maximum (cardio) benefit. So the answer would be yes, because walking you'll take longer to get up to 70-85% of MHR and have to work longer to maintain the benefit.

Or I could be talking through my hat. It's happened.
posted by nax at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2008

There is, of course, the matter of cardiovascular workout. Even if you burn the same amount of calories during a fast run and a slow walk, your heart and lungs aren't getting the same aerobic workout.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2008

Or, what nax said, like, 30 seconds earlier.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2008

the physics of running are entirely different than those of walking (for example, you don't have to hoist yourself into the air on every step when you walk). comparing the two is an apples-oranges situation. a runner, like a horse, must account for increasing speed by changing his or her gait.

on the other hand, cyclists can more easily calculate the relative effects of things like cadence and wind resistance, because the mechanical advantage bestowed by the drive train allows a great range of speeds without any real change in the system.
posted by klanawa at 2:46 PM on July 1, 2008

Your calories burned depends on how far you move your body - not how far along the ground you get. The mechnics of running means there is an upward motion aswell as forward - which you don't get so much when walking (also when running you're more likely to have greater arm motions, though the extra burn from that is probably minimal)

Whether you should walk jog or run depends on the effect you're going for, if its just fat burning then you should go for the walking or the jogging - depening on how fit you are. If you want cardio then jog or run, again depending on your fitness and how much effort it takes to get your heart rate into the required zone.
posted by missmagenta at 3:09 PM on July 1, 2008

One factor that I haven't seen discussed yet is at what time are you measuring calories burned. For instance, if you only measure at the end of the workout I believe you'll get a different answer than if you measure a few hours later.

I'm under the impression that the reason why HIIT is touted as an effective fat burning workout is because is raises your resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after the workout.

So my guess would be, in the long run, No.
posted by funkiwan at 4:02 PM on July 1, 2008

From what I understand, thomas144 is correct.

However, also from what I understand, there are other factors which can contribute to more calorie burn. If you run, you are raising your heart rate quite a bit more, and increasing your metabolism more, so for some time after that mile you will be burning more calories than you would be if you had been walking. Also, running builds more muscle than walking, and more muscle mass is generally believed to burn more calories, even when at rest (though I've read that that theory might not be all it's cracked up to be).

So yes, calories burned moving 1 mile = calories burned moving 1 mile, but how you move during that mile might affect how many calories are burned later.
posted by iguanapolitico at 4:06 PM on July 1, 2008

So yes, calories burned moving 1 mile = calories burned moving 1 mile

No. Walking and running are different motions and are not equally efficient. Would you say that hopping on one foot, crawling, or walking on your hands is just as efficient as walking? Of course not. So why would you argue that walking and running must be equally efficient, especially since I've already linked to a study showing otherwise in the thread?
posted by ssg at 4:40 PM on July 1, 2008

If I walk 5 miles in 2 hours, do I burn the same amount of calories as if I jog the same 5 miles in one hour, or if I run it in 30 minutes?

No. As ssg illustrated pretty clearly, there are inherent efficiencies (or lack thereof) to consider. People with excessive slow-twitch muscle fibers in their legs are going to operate more efficiently by walking, because that provides a more optimal measure of work (work in the physics sense of the word) than running. These efficiencies can come in a number of different forms: What is the maximum amount of glucose cell X can utilize in a given period of time? What is the minimum amount of oxygen cell Y can take before exhaustion? How developed are the stabilizer groups of muscles/ligaments/etc? There are a slew of efficiencies that must be taken into account, most less obvious than the examples ssg provided.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2008

Don't focus on comparing the two, focus on this rule: you should be able to burn your body weight divided by 10 in calories per minute. Push towards that goal.

p.s. Walking isn't exercise.
posted by ewkpates at 4:19 AM on July 2, 2008

Best answer: p.s. Walking isn't exercise

Ridiculous statement.

posted by triggerfinger at 11:11 AM on July 2, 2008

cut and paste fun: walking is activity (esp. for couch dwellers).

exercise: Activity that requires physical exertion, especially when performed to develop or maintain fitness.

activity: Energetic action or movement.

triggerfinger, walking isn't helping you increase bone density. Walk on.
posted by ewkpates at 5:12 AM on July 7, 2008

walking isn't helping you increase bone density

Well, that's not true either. All you have to do is Google walking bone denisty.

ewkpates, though I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, the problem I have with your blanket statement of "walking isn't exercise" is not only is it patently untrue, but it also insinuates that people who choose to walk are lazy. There are plenty of people for whom running or any strenuous exercise is harmful for any number of reasons and statements like yours are counterproductive. There are quite a few doctors out there who will say that walking is the best exercise for anyone because

1. No expensive equipment required
2. People are more likely to stick with it over the long term
3. Most people can do it

Personally, for exercise I will either do a run/walk on the treadmill or some kind of aerobics. I keep close tabs on my heart rate over the period and it's right where it should be for my age and fitness level. For someone at a low fitness level or someone who is very obese, walking will be a more strenuous exercise than it will be for a person at a higher fitness level and as a result their heart rate will be higher. Exercise is different for everyone.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:22 PM on July 9, 2008

Walking isn't exercise. Okay, if you have a medical condition, it might be as a form of rehabilitative therapy...

But for most of the population that can't run a mile, walking isn't what they need to focus on. For most of the population that has never done a pull up in their life, walking isn't the goal.

We have a health crisis in this country that walking isn't going to solve. Our standards for health are way too low. They are "walking" low. And the first link I got after googling walking bone density involved race walking, which isn't the walking anyone is talking about.

Say no to walking. Say yes to getting out of breath.
posted by ewkpates at 9:14 AM on July 11, 2008

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