Why Calories Burned While Running Varies
Why are there so many different opinions? And why would calories burned vary from mile to mile?
Your weight, height and body composition can all affect the amount of calories you burn when you run. The terrain can also affect how much you burn—steep hills will cost more calories than your local high school track.
Dobbins says calories burned while running also depends on your conditioning. Those of us who have been running for years will burn fewer calories than someone who just started running.
“The body is really good at gaining efficiencies at what it does often,” she says. “That’s why it’s good to mix up your exercise routine.”
But even with so many variables, Dobbins, who earned her exercise science master's degree at Cleveland State University and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Exercise Physiologist, says you shouldn’t worry about the exact number of calories you’ll burn when you run.
“So many factors go into how your body burns calories during exercise that it is very difficult to accurately track,” she say. “However, numbers-oriented runners should not fret about not knowing the exact amount burned. Keep tracking distance, pace, annual mileage, etc. But instead of focusing on calories, I suggest focusing on the reason that you run. There are so many positive outcomes when you choose to be physically active.
“For example, you can better keep up with the kids in your life, you generally sleep better, it's exciting when you make a PR, you can walk all day on vacation and not get tired. So don’t worry about the burn, use a calculator for a general idea of your calorie count and focus on how good running makes you feel.”
By Maureen Wise. Maureen caught the running bug in high school when she was the only female to run the two-mile race on her high school track team. Not that she was a fast runner then—or now—but she's been at it for 20 years and has run more 5Ks than she cares to count.