Aside from the many fantastic benefits of running such as improving cardiovascular health and fitness and reducing stress, many runners are also drawn to the sport because when it comes to exercise, running is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. For this reason, running can be an effective way to lose weight or maintain a healthy goal weight.
But how many calories does running burn? As it turns out, the answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as we might imagine because there are several factors that affect the number of calories you burn running. However, with our calories burned running calculator, we can get an estimate.
Whether you’re trying to use running as a way to burn calories, burn fat, and lose weight, or want to know how many calories you burn on a run so that you can properly refuel and replace your expenditure to maintain your current weight, keep reading!
Today we will discuss how to calculate the number of calories you burn running and the various factors that influence how many calories a run may burn.
In this guide, we’re going to look at:
- How Many Calories Does Running a Mile Burn?
- 10 Factors That Affect How Many Calories You Burn Running
- How Many Calories Does Running Burn?
- Calories Burned Running Calculator
Let’s get started!
How Many Calories Does Running a Mile Burn?
Running a mile typically burns somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-140 calories, depending primarily on your weight, though there are other variables that affect how many calories you burn running.
With that said, the energy expenditure of the body during exercise is rather consistent and predictable, based on the intensity and duration of the workout, so it’s possible to reasonably estimate the number of calories you burn running a mile, five miles, a marathon, or any distance in between or beyond.
10 Factors That Affect How Many Calories You Burn Running
The number of calories you burn running is a function of the work your body is doing, which is dependent on the following factors:
#1: Body Weight
Your body size, or how much you weigh, is one of the most significant factors that determine how many calories you burn running. A heavier runner has to move more mass with each step, which takes more energy.
Harvard Health Publishing reports that running for 30 minutes at 5mph (12 min/mile pace) burns:
- 240 calories for a 125-pound person
- 288 calories for a 155-pound person
- 336 calories for a 185-pound person
While running for 30 minutes at 6mph (10 min/mile pace) burns:
- 295 calories for a 125-pound person
- 360 calories for a 155-pound person
- 420 calories for a 185-pound person.
Finally, running 30 minutes at a vigorous 10mph (6 min/mile pace) burns:
- 453 calories for a 125-pound person
- 562 calories for a 155-pound person
- 671 calories for a 185-pound person
#2: Body Composition
Less significant than total body weight as a factor in the number of calories you burn running, but still relevant, is your body composition, or the relative percentage of lean body mass versus body fat.
Muscle tissue is far more metabolically active than adipose tissue (fat)—especially during exercise—which means that if you have a more sculpted build, you’ll burn more calories per mile you run than someone with the same body weight but a higher body fat percentage.
Men tend to burn more calories per mile running than women, even when matched by weight. This difference is primarily a product of differences in body composition. Men generally have more lean body mass relative to women, who have a higher body fat percentage.
Because muscle demands more energy and burns more calories than fat, men tend to have a higher metabolic rate than weight-matched women.
Age can play a minor role in the number of calories you burn running. In general, metabolic rate decreases with age though it’s not a simple linear decline over time. The decline is mostly attributable to sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass, after age 40 or so.
Children and adolescents also have a higher metabolic rate due to the energy demands of growth and development.
#5: Duration of Your Run
This one’s pretty obvious: The longer you run, the more calories you’ll burn. If you run for an hour, you’ll burn about twice as many calories as you burn running 30 minutes at the same speed.
#6: Running Speed
Of course, the faster you run, the more distance you will travel over the same period of time, which is why caloric expenditure increases with speed.
According to research shared by Run Repeat, a runner weighing 155 pounds can burn anywhere from 563 calories to 1267 calories in an hour depending on pace.
For example, when running at 10 min/mile pace, the 155-pound runner covers six miles and burns 704 calories in an hour, while running at a blazing 6 min/mile pace burns 1,126 calories (and covers 10 miles).
Also, the faster you run, the greater the intensity of the workout. Much like the principle applied with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.
If you tackle a race or a speedwork at a vigorous enough intensity, you’ll stoke your metabolism so significantly that you’ll continue to have an elevated metabolic rate or burn additional calories, even after your run is over.
Running uphill burns significantly more calories than running on flat, level ground. The intensity increases, and you have to lift your legs higher. This requires more muscle activation and power, which increases how many calories you burn running.
Although not always applicable, the terrain can impact calories burned running to some degree. Distinct from incline or decline, in this sense, terrain refers to the footing or surface you’re running on.
Running varied and challenging terrain, such as muddy or rocky trails and grass, burns more calories than running on a smooth, even surface like a treadmill, track, asphalt or concrete road.
Unpredictable and varied surfaces like trails require more stabilization and muscle activation in the ankles, feet, legs, and core than a smooth and uniform road. Additionally, softer surfaces absorb a little bit of energy whereas hard roads have greater energy return.
Ultimately, the differences in calories burned on a trail run or treadmill run are more a product of the topography (incline/decline) than the running surface, but small differences can add up over long runs.
#9: Fitness Level
It’s not uncommon for people to complain of hitting a weight loss plateau despite following their usual diet and fitness plan to a T. While frustrating, this phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that the body adapts to our workout routine and becomes more efficient.
Unfortunately, as much as it’s a relief when what was once a brutal workout starts to feel very manageable over time, this reduction in necessary effort is evidence of the progress your body has made and the fitness adaptations that have occurred from the same exercise stimulus.
In other words, if you are a beginner runner and then decide to run four miles one day, your body is going to struggle to get you through the workout. However, if you continue to run the same four-mile route at the same pace for the next six weeks, the run will become easier and easier.
Your heart, lungs, and muscles become stronger; your muscles become more efficient at extracting oxygen from the blood, and neuromuscular connections operate in a more coordinated manner. These adaptations improve your running economy and the number of calories you burn during the same run decreases.
Essentially the fitter you are, and the more accustomed you are to running, the fewer calories you’ll burn on your run.
With that said, this difference isn’t all that drastic and certainly shouldn’t deter you from being a regular runner. If anything, use the concept to motivate you to keep your workout routine varied, including different types of workouts, routes, terrain, and paces, and incorporate cross-training activities as well.
#10: Weather Conditions
Again, while relatively minimal, the weather conditions can impact how many calories you burn running. Windy conditions or very hot and humid conditions are more demanding for your body, so you can expect your caloric expenditure to be a bit higher.
How Many Calories Does Running Burn?
So, with all that said, determining the number of calories you burn on a run isn’t necessarily an easy answer. There are a few different approaches to calculating how many calories running burns:
Fitness Trackers and Apps
You can use the calorie estimates from a fitness tracker, GPS-running watch, Apple Health or smartphone app, or even a treadmill, but the accuracy can vary widely and these values are not particularly reliable.
Heart Rate Monitors
Your best approximation of how many calories you burn running will come from wearing a heart-rate activity monitor.
Monitoring your heart rate during your run gives you an indication of the intensity of your effort and the associated metabolic cost. A heart rate monitor that approximates your caloric expenditure running will be more accurate than a fitness tracker that does not measure heart rate data.
If you don’t have a fitness tracking device or an app on your phone, the metabolic equivalent (MET) formula can be used to provide a generalized estimate of how many calories you’ll burn running, and in a pinch, can be used as a sort of calories burned running calculator.
Calories burned = MET * weight (kg) * time (hrs)
The MET value relates to the amount of oxygen used in the particular activity. It is generally between 6-14 for running. The faster your pace, the higher the MET value.
Top End Sports reports that running 6mph (10 min/mile pace) has a MET value of 10, while running 8mph (7.5 min/mile pace) increases the MET value to 13.5.
For example, if you weigh 82 kg (180 pounds) and run 6 miles in 1 hour, you can expect to burn around 820 calories (10*82*1 = 820). Running faster at 8mph would burn 1107 calories (13.5*82*1 = 1107).
Calories Burned Running Calculator
Plug in your data to our very own calories burned running calculator to see what you’re adding up on those workouts!
Remember, although burning calories is one of the perks of running, you’ll reap plenty of rewards from any run, whether it is a heart-pounding hard workout or a leisurely jog with your favorite running mate.
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