It probably isn’t news to most people, especially to those who live in the capital, that strike action recently resulted in some sections of the London Underground temporarily closing. And with talks between TfL and RMT still ongoing, it looks as if strike action may occur again very soon.
It was when the demonstration was in full swing that we started to wonder how many calories someone might burn if, for instance, they decided to swap certain legs of their journey for a walking commute.
So we set about researching the walking time between each stop on the London Underground, and the estimated calorie burn for someone of the UK average weight (11 stone), walking at a speed of 3 miles per hour.
While we were about it, we thought we would also calculate the same figures for jogging and cycling. Here’s what we found:
Many of the inner city stops are about two minutes apart on the line, but around 10-15 minutes walking distance apart. The time difference with regard to this kind of distance is almost negligible, when you consider that waiting for up to five minutes for a tube train is a regular occurrence, as is queuing up at the turnstiles and taking time to walk to the right platform.
Most people will burn just short of four calories per minute when walking. So walking for 10-15 minutes will burn around 40-60 calories.
This means that there’s a great added health benefit to hopping off the tube one stop early when on your way to work, or opting to walk to your connecting train instead of taking the tube.
If you choose to jog, all the better. Someone jogging at an average speed of 6 miles per hour will burn around 10-12 calories a minute. That’s three times as many as walking.
For example, if you’re making a connection between London Bridge and King’s Cross, and jog for the 36 minutes it takes to do so instead of getting the tube, then you’ll burn around 400 calories. That’s the kind of cardio workout you might do during a gym session.
Cycling is a fast way to get around the city and burn calories. Going over short distances won’t work your body as hard as jogging will, but it still burns around seven calories a minute.
Taking a bike from Waterloo to London Bridge via the South Bank for instance, will take about 40 minutes and burn around 275 calories.
We also thought it might be interesting to look at some calorie burn information for the longest and shortest legs on the tube:
The tube undoubtedly saves time on travelling between legs in the outer reaches of the city. But in the centre, that variance between getting the tube and walking or jogging start to get much smaller:
From White City all the way through to Liverpool Street on the Central line, there isn’t a single leg which takes more than 15 minutes to walk, or eight minutes to jog.
The same applies to the Bakerloo line from Queen’s Park down to Lambeth North, and from Aldgate to Sloane Square on the Circle and District Lines.
The Circle line had on average the shortest distance between stops, with 12 walking minutes for each of its 34 stops.
The Waterloo and City line, with just two stops and a 32 minute walk separating them, is technically the least walkable on average. But the Metropolitan line, which is a much longer line with 32 stops, had the next longest average minute count between stops with 28.4.
Effect on Health
The fact that obesity is a nationwide epidemic is not news to most people. Those who are overweight or obese are much more likely to run into health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes than someone who is in the ideal BMI range.
Getting on the road to a healthier BMI needn’t start with heavy sessions at the gym. Making a few small adjustments to your daily routine, as highlighted in the table above, can make a difference. And if you’re planning on visiting the gym anyway, another advantage of hopping off the tube a stop or two early is that you won’t have to spend as much time on the treadmill or the exercise bike later on.
Here’s an interesting comparison. One push-up, on average, burns just under a calorie. The walking calorie burn for one of the shortest legs on the network - Leicester Square to Covent Garden - burns 19. So, in terms of calorie burn, this short walk is equivalent to doing 20 push ups at home.
If the calorie burn figures for walking are small potatoes to you, then why not step it up a notch? Pack some running clothes in your backpack, and swap that 10 minute tube journey between London Bridge and Canary Wharf for a 400 plus calorie-busting half-hour jog.