Running is a great way to get your cardio in, especially if you’re not someone who is particularly interested in playing a sport or hanging out in the gym. It’s an activity you can do on your own, and except for quality shoes, doesn’t require you to buy any special equipment.
We know running is good for you. But how many calories does that sweat session help you burn? It turns out the answer depends on you; specifically, how much you weigh. The more you weigh, the higher your calorie burn will be.
Read on to learn how many calories you burn running a mile, and how you can make running part of your exercise routine.
Calories burned per mile
A general estimate for calories burned in one mile is approximately 100 calories per mile, says Dr. Daniel V. Vigil, Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. However, this standard number varies depending on the individual. Body weight plays a major factor.
According to a chart by The American Council on Exercise, a 120-pound person burns about 11.4 calories per minute. So if that person runs a 10-minute mile, they’ll burn 114 calories. If that person weighed 180 pounds, the calorie burn goes up to 17 calories per minute. The 180-pound runner would burn 170 calories running that same 10-minute mile.
|Your weight in pounds||Calorie burn per minute|
“It's a fairly stable number, regardless of how fast you run,” says Dr. Vigil. “If you want to burn 400 calories in one hour, you can run four miles at a leisurely 15-minute-per-mile pace. If you want to burn those same 400 calories in 30 minutes, you would need to run four miles at a brisk 7-minute-30-second pace.”
This is good news because technically you don’t have to worry about speed when it comes to calorie burn. You can burn the same calories by running for a longer time period if you want to run at a slower place.
People who weigh more burn more calories per mile because, according to Dr. Vigil, “It takes more energy (calories) to move a larger body the equivalent distance at a given pace.”
When you’re exercising, you use energy. That energy is fueled by calories. One pound equals 3,500 calories. So if your goal is to lose 1 pound per week, you’ll need to burn about 500 to 1,000 more calories than you take in per day per day, on average. It’s also important to have a healthy diet plan because an extra cookie – or four – can easily undo those calories you burned during a run.
While it is true that weight, more than intensity, determines the calories burned during the run, intensity plays a role is how many calories you continue to burn after a run. The more intense the exercise, the more oxygen is consumed recovering from that exercise. This is called post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and can significantly impact your total calories burned in a day.
Why running is good for you
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity per week in order to maintain health. Running can fall into the high-intensity category, depending on your pace and your fitness level.
In addition to helping you burn calories and maintain a healthy weight, running and other exercise has other benefits.
- Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels to reduce your risk of heart disease
- Lowering risk of osteoporosis
- Improving symptoms of depression and anxiety
If you’re new to running, you’ll need to ease your body into it. Before starting an exercise plan, talk to your doctor, especially if you have any chronic health conditions.
In order to run without risking injury, you need the right shoes. Running shoes are different from regular walking, tennis aerobic, or basketball shoes. They’re specifically designed to provide good support and prevent foot and knee pain during a run. There are many different shoe styles on the market. Try different brands to find the best fit for your feet. Some running stores will allow you to test their shoes in the store on a treadmill. Your doctor or trainer can help steer you in the right direction in terms of what you need to look for in a running shoe.
After you have the shoes, it’s time to start training. A good general plan is to begin with a brisk walk and then start to add run intervals into your workout. For example, you might walk briskly for five minutes, then jog for 45 seconds and repeat this a few times. Each workout will allow you to build up endurance and soon you’ll be able to run the full mile.
Calculating your personal calorie burn
While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact number of calories each person is burning during a mile run, wearable fitness trackers, like Fitbit, can get pretty close. These devices are able to measure your heart rate, and how far you’ve run. After you’ve entered in your height and weight, the device makes a calculation using all of the information it’s given.
Some wearables also allow you to store your own fitness data. This makes it easy to track your progress and set goals. Learn more about wearable trackers and see which one might be right for you here.
Boosting Your Calorie Burn
If you’re looking for an extra burn, try adding some strength training to your cardio. Lifting weights or using your body weight – think pushups – helps you to build muscle. When you mix cardio and weight exercises into the same workout, it’s called circuit training.
For example, you might do a quick sprint, then a few pushups, then another sprint and so on. These exercises burn more calories together than they do individually due to EPOC.