Running v's Walking
Got an opinion? Why not voice it on the blog
When it comes to exercise, there are generally two types of people - those who hate running and those who love it. For those who would rather have a root canal than entertain the idea of going for a run, the obvious and somewhat biased supposition is that walking is a far superior form of calorie expenditure. Ramblers draw this conclusion on the fact that walking a mile takes longer than running a mile, so you are therefore exercising for longer and burning more energy. Runners, on the other hand, laugh at the apparent absurdity of this theory from their slower moving counterparts. The ‘pavement pounders' question how walkers, who barely raise a sweat, can possibly burn more energy over a mile than someone moving twice as fast, irrespective of it taking half the time.
The actual answer to this question is in fact a little more complicated than you might think. Studies on the amount of energy expended for various activities were carried out by leading exercise physiologists Jack Wilmore and David Costill. They discovered that a 70kg (154lb) man will burn 5 calories a minute walking at 3.5mph and 18.2 calories a minute running at 10mph. To save you the maths, per mile that equates to 85 calories expended during a 1-mile walk and 109 calories burned during a 1-mile run. 1-0 to the runners!
However, the victory is hardly convincing. Based on this study, by running a mile you will burn a pathetic 24 calories more than walking. When you consider that your average apple is worth 80 calories, is the extra effort of running worth it? The answer is a resounding ‘yes'. At rest, even though the body is inactive, it still requires energy to sustain basic cellular and physiological functions such as brain activity, heart rate and enzyme reactions. Known as our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the resting human body expends anywhere between 1,200 calories and 2,400 calories a day, depending on sex, age and genetics. However, when daily activity such as a walk or run is added, our BMR is increased to anywhere between 1,800 calories and 3,000 calories (10,000 calories is not uncommon for professional athletes).
The reason why some people have a higher BMR than others may bring a smile to runners' faces. Our BMR is determined not only by our age, sex and genes, but also how active our muscle tissue is. If our muscles are worked hard and exercised thoroughly, as they are during a run, their need for energy at rest to help replenish expended nutrients is greatly increased. It is believed that after a hard run, the energy demands of the leg muscles are doubled for up to 48 hours. Although a walk will elevate the resting energy requirements of the muscles to a degree, it is incomparable to a run. 2-0 to the runners!
So the moral of the story? If you want to lose weight, get your trainers and take up jogging - or get walking at a fair lick!