Incline running vs walking – what’s better for burning calories?

12December 2021

Incline running is an activity that can help promote a healthy cardiovascular system and increase the number of calories you burn.

In general, incline walking provides a more efficient exercise for burning calories compared to incline running.

For incline walking, there are three inclines – very easy, moderate, and hard. At a very easy incline level, you only need to spend 2 minutes on it to burn 10 kcal; at the moderate incline level, you need 4 minutes to do so; while at the hardest include level (a 12-degree incline), you need 6 minutes to achieve this goal.

As both activities involve similar muscle groups (legs) but incline walking results in less strain on the back muscles, incline walking is a better calorie-burning workout than incline running.

However, incline running induces a lower impact on the joints and strain on the muscles, so it does not lead to severe soreness after exercising. In addition, incline running allows you to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time since you run faster at an incline than when you run flat or uphill.

Incline running can add extra intensity into your usual workout routine and help build strength endurance, while incline walking is more suitable for weight loss maintenance programs.

Incline running

When incline is increased, the impact force with the ground decreases because gravity has become less effective when you run on an inclined surface. This means you will need to put in slightly more effort to move forward during incline running than flat running, which results in higher caloric expenditure when comparing incline versus flat running at the same speed or even when compared to walking. Also, this effect becomes larger as the incline increases steeper because the incline increases the impact force to a greater extent.

Incline walking

When incline is increased, you have less ground contact because it requires more effort from your muscles to maintain balance, which results in higher caloric expenditure when comparing incline versus flat walking at the same speed or even incline versus incline running. Also, this effect becomes larger as the increase of incline becomes steeper because you will need to put in even more effort because of steeper inclines.

So what’s better for burning calories – incline running or incline walking? Well. Both! The result shows that both inclines lead to slightly higher average power output (2.6% incline running and 3.0% incline walking), but inclines are not additive to each other. This means that incline running for 30 min at 4% incline is the same as incline walking for 30 min at 6% incline because both inclines lead to similar average power output (both are 2.6%). Likewise, incline walking for 45 min at 6% incline is the same caloric expenditure as incline running for 45 min at 8% inclination.

Several major physiological cardiovascular adaptations occur during incline running.

  1. The incline causes an increase in cardiac output due to increased heart rate, stroke volume, and mean arterial pressure.
  2. The inclines increase the total peripheral resistance by increasing the vascular resistance of arteries feeding skeletal muscle, which means more blood is pumped with each beat.
  3. During incline running, muscle blood flow decreases, while fat blood flow increases proportionally to its demand. This allows for maximal oxygen transport at the muscles while sustaining minimal energy expenditure by impacting significantly less carbohydrate utilization, resulting in a lower respiratory exchange ratio (RER). RER is a way to measure how much carbohydrates versus fat your body needs when working hard for 1 hour.

As incline running builds cardiovascular fitness, it also impacts overall weight loss and long-term health. This makes incline running such a popular choice among people who want to lose weight and stay fit.

In conclusion, inclines are great for burning calories and can even burn more than normal incline walking or inclining running, depending on the incline angle. However, inclines must be used by healthy people without any health problems; otherwise, they may lead to severe injuries, especially if inclines are misused or not controlled, which is why healthy people should only do them with no medical conditions whatsoever. Finally, inclines can burn calories and build muscles simultaneously, so it’s a very effective workout regimen for all those who want quick results in their fitness journey

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