Running can relieve stress, improve your overall athletic performance, promote good health and, of course, burn calories to help you lose weight. Pinning down an average number of calories burned running for 20 minutes really isn't as simple as it seems.
Your calorie burn depends on the intensity of your run — which translates into how many miles you cover, as well as the terrain — along with your size and age.
You can burn approximately 100 to 150 calories in a 20-minute run. A faster runner will burn more calories.
100 Calories per Mile
A very rough rule of thumb is that, if you have an average healthy body weight, you'll burn roughly 100 calories for every mile you cover. So, if you cover 1 1/2 miles in 20 minutes, you'll burn about 150 calories.
If you're a faster runner and cover 3 miles, you'll burn roughly 300 calories in the same amount of time. Of course, if you weigh more than average, you'll burn more calories. If you weigh less, you'll burn fewer calories.
Read more: How to Lose Weight Jogging for 20 Minutes
More Specific Calorie-Burn Rates
The larger you are and the faster you go, the more calories you burn. For example, a person who weighs 125 pounds burns 160 calories in 20 minutes of running at a 5-mile-per-hour pace; 220 calories running at a 6.7-mph pace; and 330 calories at a 10-mph pace. A 185-pound person running at the same paces burns 236, 325 and 515 calories, respectively, in 20 minutes, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
A trail run burns about 180 calories in 20 minutes for a 125-pound person and 267 calories for a 185-pound person. If you're pushing a jogging stroller or a wheelchair as you run, expect to burn 160 to 237 calories in 20 minutes.
Post-Run Calorie Burn
The faster you run for the 20 minutes dictates not only how many calories you burn during the session but also how many you burn afterward. When you run at an extremely challenging pace for 20 minutes, your heart rate and breath rate remain elevated afterward — more so than they do when you run at an easy pace. Because it takes longer for you to recover, you burn slightly more calories immediately afterward.
Use the 20 minutes of running to perform high-intensity intervals, says Mayo Clinic, to better induce fat loss and post-exercise calorie expenditure. For example, you could warm up for five minutes and then alternate hard one-minute runs with easy one-minute runs five times for 10 minutes and then cool down. This is known as high-intensity interval training, and how many calories it burns depends on your personal profile.
Read more: Can Jogging 20 Minutes Burn Belly Fat?
Walking Vs. Running
Running requires your feet to leave the ground with each step. Walking uses far less energy because both feet never lose contact with the ground at the same time. Calorie burn rates reflect this difference in effort.
Running's intensity increases the impact it puts on your body. Taking on too much too soon, or running when you have joint problems or a lot of weight to lose, might cause problems. As ACE Fitness suggests, take the "less is more" approach.
As long as you follow an appropriate program, however, running is perfectly safe. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns, and consult a professional for help with a starter running schedule.