Walking a Mile at a Full Incline Vs. Jogging Flat on the Treadmill

By Wendy Fryer

All physical activity is beneficial but some may be better than others for burning calories, improving health and building strength. Whether you choose to walk, jog or run, exercisers of all fitness levels can get a good workout on the treadmill. Using the incline offers an additional challenge, taking a light walk to a grueling uphill battle. In fact, a steep uphill walk may prove to be a better workout than jogging on a flat treadmill.

Calories Burned

When comparing incline walking to jogging on a flat treadmill, the incline walking wins out. For a 1-mile walk at 3 miles per hour with a 10 percent incline, a 140-pound woman would burn 165 calories. The same woman jogging for a mile at 5 miles per hour, a 12-minute mile, would burn 92 calories. Additionally, for many people, jogging feels much more intense than walking, regardless of the incline. As a result, walkers may be able to extend the length of their walk and burn even more calories than their jogging counterparts.


One advantage of walking with an incline is it forces you to really engage your lower body muscles to propel you upward. As your legs push you forward, your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps lift your body weight repeatedly. The result is a strong and toned lower body that you would not necessarily see from jogging on a flat surface alone.

Impact and Injuries

One big difference between walking at an incline and jogging flat is the amount of impact placed on the lower body joints. Each time your foot hits the ground when jogging, your knee must absorb the force of nearly eight times your body weight. Over time, that impact can lead to injuries if you are not adequately prepared to handle it. Walking, on the other hand, doesn't share that level of impact. Walkers can walk much farther and more often without the same types of overuse injuries that joggers often endure.


One aspect that may give jogging the edge over incline walking is the time you spend working out. While you may burn more calories in a mile of uphill walking, it takes longer than it would to jog the same mile. For many people, finding time to exercise is a challenge. Raising your heart rate through jogging is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health in a short amount of time. Walking may be able to match those cardio benefits, but it takes longer to get to the same end result. Before starting any exercise program, always consult with your physician.


About the Author

Wendy Fryer holds a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has more than 15 years of experience managing health clubs and working with clients.

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