How Many Calories Are Burned While Running: Physics Explains It

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Is it better to run longer or run faster to lose weight? How many calories are burned when we run? How to run while consuming less energy?
In the article we will answer these questions with the help of physics!

To runwe know it is one of the most recommended sports to lose weight and get back in shape, thanks to a high-intensity cardio activity that consumes a large number of calories compared to other sports activities.

Simple, but it’s not enough! And if we wanted to know the exact number of calories consumed during the racetaking into account our physique, type of training and speed?

To do this, we are met by physics!
Thanks to calculation of total mechanical energy it is in fact possible to know how many calories are actually consumed by our body during one of our races.

This calculation also helps us understand what they really are the factors that matter when it comes to running and losing weight and how to plan our workouts to increase the number of calories burned.

What data comes into play

Before starting with the formulas, in order not to complicate things too much, let’s start with a graph that helps us understand what are the initial data to consider when talking about running and calories consumed.

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Drawing Mechanical energy applied to the line

To calculate the calories burned during the race, the starting point will be to analyze the individual limbs (arms and legs of the runner), with their mass and their specific speed of movement. From the data of the individual members, it is then possible to obtain the global data, with Rider total mass and the Overall speed of all segments considered (Velocity of the center of mass).

With these data, he adds Kor thekinetic energy. It indicates the amount of energy related to the movement of a body, relating mass and speed.

Here is the formula for kinetic energy:
Kinetic energy=

Applied to racing we can read the formula ofkinetic energy in this way: in running, kinetic energy is calculated as the product of the runner’s mass and the speed squared, all divided by two.

The formula for total mechanical energy

From the data explained previously, we can arrive at the Total mechanical energy formulaone that allows you to calculate the amount of calories burned during the race.

Here is the formula, in a reduced and more understandable version:

Unfortunately, however, it would be very difficult for ordinary mortals to have all the data to arrive at an accurate calculation of the calories consumed. Calculate speed of individual limbs, rotational kinetic energy and potential energy…they are there many steps and aspects to consider.

How many calories do you burn running? A practical example

To better understand the practical applications of this formula, ours comes to our aid Sandro Mastrolembophysicist, runner and friend of LBM Sport.

Together we tried to apply the formula for total mechanical energy with a real example, to estimate the calories burned by a runner during a workout.

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Lucasheight 1 meter and 80 and weight 78 kg.
How many calories will you burn in a 10km running workout 5min/km speed?

With the above data, Luca will travel 10 km and burn approximately 770 kcal.

Calorie consumption and speed: what changes

Now we have a question: What if Luca always ran an hour, but faster?

Suppose Luca decides to push hard and run his training 10K at a time step of 4min/kmwhat changes in the level of calories consumed?
It may surprise but in this case Luca will only lose 700 calories.

This gives us aimportant information also for our training. When we run for the purpose of burning calories and losing weight, we don’t have to focus on speed, but rather total workout time.

What if our goal was not to lose weight? The running economy

the link between running and calories burned it is not only useful for all runners who approach running to consume more calories and lose weight, far from it!
Trying to run more efficiently and improve your performance the reasoning is the opposite!
How can you drive with less energy, leaving us room to push harder and pick up the pace? Here is the concept of Running Economy.

They help us better understand this concept Sandro Mastrolembo And Francesco Fagnaniexpert in nutrition and sport and runner of the LBM Sport team.

The Running Economy is a cornerstone related to calorie consumption is al energy cost of the trip. It can be defined as the amount of energy needed to sustain a certain effort, and it is essential to take this into account and improve it so that it can work efficiently and for a long time!
Summary ; with the same weight and running pace, those with better running economy use less energy and can therefore maintain that pace longer.

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How to improve the Running Economy and consume less energy

The first way to improve your running economy is simple: run!

The training continuity and thegradual increase workload produce both muscular and physiological adaptations. If you are at the start of a training course you have in front of you great margins of improvement both from the point of view of the conditional aspects such as strength, speed and endurance as well as aspects of coordination linked to technical learning.
If, on the other hand, you have been training for many years and you’re at a standstill in your performance, it might be time to take another route than increasing the volume or intensity.

It is clear that training volume cannot be increased indefinitely, and if you have been running for a few years you will certainly have already reached a good plateau!

What else can we do to improve RE?

Work on collateral aspects, such as:

  • training in conditions outside your comfort zone (in hot weather, at different times, etc.)
  • altitude training for me to improve red blood cell volume and count;
  • muscle building.
Article designed and supervised by:
Sandro Mastrolembo
Physicist and biomedical engineer

And
Francesco Fagnani
sports performance nutritionist

LBM Sport runner and friends

See the notes of Sandro and Francesco

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