Running is the best exercise for fast weight loss, according to charts that rank calories burned per exercise. Walking up inclines is also an excellent way to lose weight fast. Walking up a steep incline can burn 70 percent more calories than walking on a straight surface, although walking up inclines slows walking speed considerably, according to “The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness.” Walking inclines and running are both strenuous activities, and you should take precautions before doing either.
In terms of calories burned in an hour, running 6-minute miles and bicycling more than 20 mph tied for first on a list of 158 exercises published by "The Harvard Heart Letter." Both activities burn 1,228 calories per hour in 155-pound people. Running 7-minute and 8-minute miles are third and fourth on the list, burning 1,078 and 930 calories per hour, respectively, in 155-pound people. Heavier people burn more calories. Even running 12-minute miles burns more calories, 596 per hour, than about 120 of the 158 activities listed. Running 5.5-minute miles burns more calories, 1,267 per hour, than any of the 175 activities on a list compiled by Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Family Services. Running 6-minute miles, running 6.5-minute miles and running up stairs are also among the seven exercises on Wisconsin’s list that burn more than 1,000 calories per hour in 155-pound people.
Walking Up Inclines
Walking up stairs and walking up a hill burn fewer calories than running. Walking up stairs burns 563 calories per hour if you weigh 155 pounds, according to Wisconsin. How many calories you burn while walking up a hill depends on how steep the hill is. “The Complete Guide to Walking” author Mark Fenton estimated that 155-pound people burn 507 calories per hour when they walk up a “steep” incline, an incline with a 20-degree angle, and burn 453 calories per hour when they walk up a “noticeable” incline, an incline with a 10-degree angle.
You lose 1 pound when you burn 3,500 calories. Consequently, 155-pound people running 6-minute miles four hours per week can lose almost 1 1/2 pounds in one week and about 6 pounds in one month. The same people can lose about 4 1/2 pounds in one month running 8-minute miles and about 3 pounds in one month running 12-minute miles. You will burn fewer calories walking up inclines. A 155-pound person walking four hours per week can lose about 3 pounds in a month walking up stairs and about 2 1/2 pounds walking up a steep incline.
You shouldn’t begin exercising vigorously until a doctor gives you a physical exam that will include listening to your heart, according to The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook. Running causes seven times as many sudden deaths as sedentary activities, according to “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease.” In addition, about 60 percent of people who begin an exercise quit within the first six weeks because of an injury, according to The Merck Manual of Medical Information.
- Harvard Heart Letter: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights; July, 2004
- State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services: Calories Burned Per Hour
- The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness; Mark Fenton
- The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook: Starting an Exercise Program
- Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Dr. Dean Ornish
- The Merck Manual of Medical Information; 2003
Jay Schwartz has had articles printed by the "Chicago Tribune," "USA Today" and many other publications since 1983. He's covered health, fitness, nutrition, business, real estate, government, features, sports and more. A Lafayette, Pa. college graduate, he's also written for several Fortune 500 corporate publications and produced business newsletters.