Running burns more fat than walking, given equal exercise times. An average adult exercising at 50 percent of his or her maximum oxygen consumption will burn approximately 225 calories in 30 minutes, 113 of which are fat. However, the same adult exercising at 75 percent of his or her oxygen consumption will burn 315 calories, 126 being from fat. It's true that walking will burn a slightly higher percentage of fat calories, but running burns a lot more calories over a similar time period.
Burning carbohydrates vs. fats for weight loss
Fitness trainer Douglas Brooks says studies give no indication that burning fat is more effective for weight loss than burning carbohydrates. Weight loss is about burning calories, not fat.
Committing your time
Running is more strenuous and will burn more calories in a shorter period of time than walking. To see significant weight loss through walking, it's not uncommon for individuals to have to put in more than an hour three or more times a week. However, learning to speed walk can produce caloric expenditures comparable to jogging and with a lot less stress.
Stressing the body
Despite the efficiency studies, walking wins if you're overweight. The impact on your joints from walking is between one to 1-1/2 times your body weight. Running produces an impact three to four times your body weight and consequently results in a much higher incidence of injury.
An important aspect of weight loss involves increasing muscle mass, which increases your overall metabolism. As a straight comparison, running and walking provide similar gains. But, new dimensions of strength training can easily be added to walking without causing harmful stress, such as: holding weights in your hands or carrying a weighted vest.
Ultimately, exercising for weight loss comes down to three factors: how long you exercise, how hard you exercise, and the muscle you stand to gain. Exercising as hard as you can and as long as you can will optimize your caloric expenditure and weight loss. But you need to balance this against your present fitness level, your risk of injury, and your time on hand.
Article Written By Isaac Billings
Residing in northern Michigan, Isaac Billings began writing in 2009, with articles appearing on eHow, Trails and Run.com. A wilderness EMT-paramedic and wilderness instructor, Billings enjoys writing about the outdoors, running, health and nutrition. He holds an Associates of Applied Science in emergency medicine from North Central Michigan College.