Is Treadmill Walking at an Incline Better Than Running?


You can burn as many calories during an hour of walking uphill as you can during an hour of jogging on a flat surface, and with less strain to your joints. Walking at an incline on a treadmill simulates walking uphill, which increases the intensity of the workout. Incline walking engages your glutes and core more than regular walking does, and there's a natural tendency to engage your lower back as a stabilizer, which helps prevent back pain and injury.

Calories Burned in Walking Vs. Running

  • According to Harvard Medical School, in 30 minutes a 155-pound person will burn approximately150 calories walking 4.5 miles per hour versus burning 240 calories jogging at 5 miles per hour. Researchers from Syracuse University found an even greater disparity, with runners burning about twice as many calories as walkers in a controlled study published in 2004. To calculate the approximate number of calories you burn per mile, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.53 for walking, and multiply it by 0.75 for running.

Risk of Injury

  • Running on a regular basis is a high-impact activity and is harder on your joints and connective tissues than walking. If you have chronic pain in your knees or ankles, a long-term running program might not be a good choice. Many running-related injuries come from overtraining and overuse, which is much less likely to occur if you are walking.

The Incline Effect

  • The American College of Sports Medicine has calculated that a 150-pound person will increase the number of calories burned per mile walked by 12 percent for every corresponding 1 percent increase in grade. That means with a 5 percent increase in grade you can burn as many calories in an hour walking at 4.5 miles per hour as you could jogging at 5 miles per hour.


  • Strength comes from challenge, and this is true for your heart muscle as well. As you maintain an elevated heart rate during aerobic activity, you are strengthening your heart and burning calories. Most treadmills have hill or mountain programs to simulate alternating walking uphill with walking on a flat surface. In addition to providing a cardiovascular challenge, alternating inclines with flat intervals increases your strength and power, says Tony Veney, a track coach at UCLA. Walking on an incline can provide the cardiovascular and fat-burning benefits of running, with a lower risk of injury.

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