How Running Can Burn More Calories Than Walking

Three people running in the late afternoon.
Chase Jarvis/Taxi/Getty Images

It simply makes sense that runners burn more calories than walkers. All that sweating and huffing and puffing must count for something. Looking at the science, there is a difference in calories burned per mile or kilometer for walking versus running. But the spread isn't very large, and there is no difference at higher walking speeds. You can use calories burned while exercising to estimate your burn.

Measuring Calories Burned

Research on the metabolic equivalents (MET) of various activities ranks each activity by calories per kilogram per hour. Just sitting quietly burns 1 MET. If you weigh 150 pounds, that is 68 calories per hour.

A runner and a fast walker, both at a speed of 12 minutes per mile or 5 miles per hour, achieve the exact same 8 MET. Their calories per mile and calories per hour are identical.

Walking at various speeds burns between 2 and 8 MET. Running at various speeds burns 8 to 18 MET. That sounds like quite a difference, but you have to take into account the length of the workout. Do they run for a set number of miles, or do they run for a set period of time? It adds up.

Walking vs. Running

Between the speeds of 5 and 9 miles per hour, runners expend almost the same calories per mile. The METs are higher for faster speeds just to reflect that they will go more miles in that same hour. This assumes they will run for an entire hour, rather than doing a set number of miles.

Walkers also see very little difference in calories per mile at walking speeds between 2.5 and 4 miles per hour. While they burn the same calories per mile as runners if they can go 5 mph, they burn fewer calories per mile at slower speeds. They can easily make up that difference in a workout by going further in distance.

Calories Burned

Below are the average calories burned per mile for a 160-pound person for walking and running.


2.0 mph - 91
2.5 mph - 87
3.0 mph - 85
3.5 mph - 83
4.0 mph - 91
4.5 mph - 102
5.0 mph - 116


5.0 mph - 116
6.0 mph - 121
7.0 mph - 119
8.0 mph - 123
9.0 mph - 121
10.0 mph - 131

You can find more results with walking calorie calculator charts for different weights and speeds. The 4 mph speed is that of a brisk walk. Running a mile will burn 30 more calories for this person than walking briskly. The differences in the calories burned will be less for people who weigh less.

Weight and Calories Burned

The numbers above are very different if you weigh 100 pounds or 250 pounds. Weight is part of the equation. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn at every speed.

But this is something you can't easily change. If you wear a pack or weighted vest that adds 20 pounds, you only increase your calories burned per mile by about 11 to 12. It would be far better and easier to just walk an extra 2 to 5 minutes to burn those same calories. Why risk straining yourself?

Should You Walk or Run Faster?

If you can build up your walking speed to 5 mph, or 12 minutes per mile, you will be at the top calorie burn per mile and achieve the same burn as a jogger. If you are a runner, you don't get any calorie-burning benefit by going faster than 10 minutes per mile or 6 mph.

Should You Walk or Run Longer?

The farther you walk or run, the more calories you burn. You get the most benefit and burn more calories by adding distance to your workout, whether you walk or run. It's smart to do this incrementally. Add 10 to 15 minutes to your typical workout each week and steadily build up your walking or running time.

Should You Add Weight?

You will burn more calories per mile at every speed by weighing more, but it is a very small difference and not worth the risk of strain. Every extra pound means more impact on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. It is better to walk or run farther than to add any weight.

Choosing to Walk or Run

If you enjoy running, you can burn calories in less time and be done with your daily workout sooner. Many people enjoy the higher heart rate and the burst of happy brain chemicals it produces. But for others, running is a grind that they have to force themselves to do. In order to get any benefit from a workout, it has to be one that you enjoy and will do day after day.

A Word From Verywell

If you love to run, then run. If you hate to run but love to walk, then walk. You will just need to spend more time walking to go the distance you need to burn the calories you want to burn.

If you'd like to start running, you can add running intervals to your walking workouts. You will benefit from those bursts of speed and extra calorie-burn. Gradually, you can increase the length of the running intervals until you are running continuously.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wilkin LD, Cheryl A, Haddock BL. Energy expenditure comparison between walking and running in average fitness individuals. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(4):1039-44. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31822e592c

  2. Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, et al. 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(8):1575-81. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31821ece12

  3. Loftin M, Waddell DE, Robinson JH, Owens SG. Comparison of energy expenditure to walk or run a mile in adult normal weight and overweight men and women. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(10):2794-8. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc26cd

Additional Reading

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.