If you are counting calories, it’s very hard to overlook the calories burned running. Running is one of the most convenient weight loss tools out there, but is often avoided because of a little discomfort and the fear of the unknown. If you take a look at all of the other activities out there that burn calories, few are as versatile as running and few of them will give you the high calorie-burn.
A good estimation tool for the calories burned running is that you’ll burn 100 calories for every mile that your run. This is based on a moderate pace for an average weight adult. If you run at a higher intensity or if you’re a bit overweight…you’ll burn more than 100 calories per mile. Aside from the calorie-burning benefit of running, there are also numerous other health benefits including: lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, increased muscle tone, and much, much more. See the Benefits of Running page, if interested.
So if you burn 100 calories per mile, you can burn 200-300 calories in just 20 minutes of running depending on your pace! That’s a pretty good “return” on your time investment. But how does that compare with other exercise activities (you ask)? It’s like that cereal commercial that shows you how many bowls of their competitor’s cereal that you would have to eat to get the same nutrition as one bowl of Total 😉. Well…let’s look at how much time you’d have to spend on other activities for the equivalent calories burned running in just 20 minutes….
- 75 minutes weight lifting
- 60 minutes of walking (3 mph)
- 60 minutes of golf
- 45 minutes of bike riding (10 mph)
- 45 minutes of basic calisthenics
- 35 minutes of aerobics
And while it’s true that there are some activities that meet or exceed the calories burned running, these activities are not near as convenient or versatile as running. These include: swimming, elliptical machine, stair climber, and even sports such as basketball, soccer, and tennis. But be careful when estimating your calories burned from these sports. Most calorie calculators don’t factor in idle-time. For example, a friend of mine doesn’t understand why he’s not losing weight from his 1-hour of basketball every day. After playing half-court basketball with their group one afternoon, I realized that an hour of basketball whittled down to a ½ hour of standing there waiting for the ball, 20 minutes of walking around the court, and only about 10 minutes of running. What’s the moral of this story? Most of the calories burned from sports, are the calories burned running!
My intention is to by no means down-play the benefits of team sports and other activities. Personally, I really like team sports, bike-riding, and other cardiovascular activities…but for my daily routine none of them can match the calories burned running. The convenience can not be overstated, too. With running you lace up your shoes and off you go…no ride to the gym…no expensive equipment….just you and the great outdoors. It’s also easy to do when you’re away from home. Jogging clothes don’t take up much suitcase space and it’s a lot of fun to explore new towns and areas when on business travel or vacations.
With so many weight loss plans, pills, and diets out there, it can be easy to lose focus on your goal of health & happiness. Running is a great activity and it could become a life-long hobby (although by now you’ve probably sensed that I’m a tad biased ;-). If you’re counting calories, look into the calories burned by running. And if you start running, you may find that the health benefits and enjoyment of running are just too good to be true! Happy running.