Q&A: Can You Burn the Same Amount of Calories Walking vs. Running?

The short answer from an exercise physiologist

People running and walking in the park

Q: Can you burn the same amount of calories walking vs. running the same distance?

A: The short answer is no, there is usually around a 30% differential. But there are some variables that could make the amount of calories to end up around the same.  

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For example, going for a 2-mile slow jog or speed walk will probably result in a more similar range of calories burned as compared to running a race at top speed or going for a stroll after dinner. Your metabolic equivalence (MET) determines the amount of calories your body burns based on the level of intensity that is exerted. As your intensity increases, your body’s demand for oxygen also increases.

A person’s body weight can affect caloric burn as well. Excess post oxygen consumption (EPOC), or known more simply as “after burn”, is the process of your body expending energy after a workout is completed to return to a resting state. A larger person usually has more muscle mass, and therefore, a higher metabolic rate. Therefore, this can also contribute to a difference in calorie burn dependent on the intensity level of activity.

Scott Crabiel, Personal Training Coordinator, Cleveland Clinic Akron General

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