What burns more calories: running or walking?
The short answer is that given the same distance, running burns about 30 percent more calories than walking. A one mile walk burns roughly 75 to 85 calories, while running the same distance consumes about 108 to 125 calories. When you walk, there's always one foot on the ground, and your center of gravity doesn't change much. When you run, you have to push off the ground to lift your body weight, which significantly changes your center of gravity and requires more energy. If you prefer walking, remember that many factors influence how many calories you burn: distance, speed, efficiency of movement, and your own body weight. You can easily increase the calorie- burning potential of a walk by going farther and faster. Or you can carry hand weights to increase your body weight: That way, you'll work harder and exercise more muscles. If you do walk with hand weights, be sure your arms maintain a normal forward and backward swing. Swinging your arms across the body can result in a rotation of your torso, which can reduce the efficiency of your walk and put you at risk for lowerback injury. To further improve efficiency (and prevent injury), be sure that when your heel hits the ground, the front of your shoe points directly forward. Also keep in mind that burning calories isn't everything. Regular exercise provides a wide range of health benefits, including stress relief, enhanced sleep, and a reduced risk for many major diseases. The most important thing is to enjoy your exercise-that way, you'll stick with it.—Richard Lampman, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor