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The yoga vs. running debate is a heavily talked-about topic in fitness communities. Many people consider switching out daily cardiovascular workouts for a relaxing yoga session.

But you’re wondering:

“Does it really balance out?”

Let’s determine whether the argument lies in favor of yoga or running and if the two workouts are even interchangeable.

woman doing yoga in morning park

What’s a Better Workout for Weight Loss?

For starters, let’s consider why a majority of people get into the whole yoga vs. running debate anyway.

Because they want to lose weight, duh.

So, when it comes to weight loss, what’s your best bet?

Before establishing that, we need to break down the weight loss process to understand it better.

Weight Loss Boils Down to Burning Calories

Weight loss is the name of the calorie burning game. Ultimately, how much weight you lose boils down to the number of calories you consume, versus how many you can expand on a daily basis.

If that’s the case, both yoga and running can promote weight loss.

However, running does have the advantage of helping you burn more calories each minute as compared to yoga.

For comparison, take a person weighing 150 pounds, for instance. During a one-hour yoga session, this person can burn around 240 calories.

Comparatively, running can help them burn a whopping 786 calories in an hour.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that time is a major consideration (and we’ll get back to that later).

Your Diet

In addition to learning about the weight loss process, we also have to know about the other factors that affect your rate of losing weight.

One of the main considerations?

Your diet.

What you eat will exponentially affect how fast you can lose weight. Studies show that unless you’re eating a healthy diet and a calorie deficit, weight loss won’t come easy.

It’s impossible to burn off all the calories you consume. To put things into perspective, you have to take 10,000 steps to burn 500 calories.

So, if your daily intake is 2000 calories… you can do the math.

That said, you should combine both exercises, whether running or yoga, along with smart portion control if you want to lose weight.

Not to mention, you can’t just eat any calories and expect them to do the job. Make sure that most of your energy comes from fresh produce, fiber-rich foods, and lean protein.

Time and Other Considerations

How much time you can devote to a workout is a major factor that affects your weight loss goals.

For example, if your busy schedule only allows you to devote 30 minutes to exercise on a daily basis, it’s a better idea to opt for running. However, even with this amount of running, you can start to feel a bit uncomfortable, if you don’t have the right shoes. So it is advised to at least take a look at the best cushioned running shoes and invest in a pair that gives you the comfort you need.

Or if you are looking for a more specific pair that gives you essential comfort, check out our list of the best running shoes for women with flat feet, or running shoes for women with bunions.

Yoga requires much more time and patience, so it’s best to leave it for the weekend.

The Yoga Benefit

Of course, all you yoga fanatics are probably thinking:

“Well, there must be some benefits of yoga over running, right?”

And you know what? That’s true.

Studies show that yoga’s calming and relaxing effects on our blood pressure, pain levels, and anxiety make it a healthy exercise for the brain. More so, as compared to running.

Even when it comes to weight loss, yoga can have beneficial effects in the long run.


Because it can improve your muscle to fat ratio. Having more muscle means being able to lose more weight and enhancing metabolism.

After you get used to doing regular yoga, you can also take the next step and invest in some equipment, that will make your yoga sessions even more effective. Some of the best yoga blocks, for example, would do the trick.

What’s the Difference in Intensity between Yoga and Running?

“But how can it be that yoga and running burn calories at different rates when they both make me feel tired”, you ask.

Well, a systemic review of different studies shows that running and yoga both score differently on the MET scale. According to the findings of the review, yoga is mainly a flexibility and strength exercise that complements cardiovascular workouts.

What Do the MET Scores Say?

Most yoga poses have a MET (metabolic equivalent of task) score of up to 3. While a score of 1 means being sedentary, 3 is equivalent to walking slowly, almost leisurely.

This indicates that most yoga poses are light activity.

Sun salutations, on the other hand, can produce a score of up to 6. But that doesn’t match up to the score of 10.5 if you’re running a 9-minute mile.

“But What about Hot Yoga?”

There are some claims that yoga performed in a hot room can help you burn up to 1,000 calories in one and a half hours.

However, the MET score for Bikram yoga is similar to those of yoga in an environment at room temperature.

What Should I Do First Thing in The Morning?

Early morning workouts are great for your body. They kickstart your muscles, clear out your brain fog, and help you concentrate.

But should you practice yoga or running?

To make things clear, both exercises are great for an early morning workout, but it’s best to incorporate both in your routine.

If your body doesn’t have the strength to start running right away, you should spend some time practicing yoga to warm up. If you run on a daily basis, it’s best to keep a short yoga session for afterward, so you can relax.

Weighing the Benefits of Yoga vs Running

Let’s see how both exercises compare in other areas.

Reducing Stress

You probably think that yoga wins this round, but that’s not necessarily true. Aerobic exercise can also produce relaxing effects in the long run.

Since no two bodies are the same, we all respond to a workout in different ways.

Achieving Better Flexibility

Taking a single yoga class can give your flexibility a major boost.

Studies show that practicing yoga consistently over a 10-week period can lead to an increase in flexibility. In most cases, you’ll observe more flexibility when it comes to ankles and shoulders.

Enhancing Longevity

If you’re looking to add more years to your life, both running and yoga will do the trick. A 2012 study at Copenhagen City Heart showed that men and women who jog regularly live longer by an average of 6.2 and 5.6 years.

Similarly, studies show that yoga can improve longevity by strengthening the core and that increased abdominal strength is a factor that contributes to longevity.

The Final Verdict?

We just want to ask:

Why can’t you just do both?

Considering the benefits they both provide, it’s easy to think that practicing yoga and running will provide the most benefits to your health.

However, if your main concern is losing weight and that too, quickly, it’s best that you stick to running. Nonetheless, there’s no harm to dabble in yoga by attending a few sessions on the weekend.

emma lynn

Hi, I’m Emma Lynn

I’m a proud mother of two wonderful children and a wife to a loving, affectionate husband. I enjoy exercise – yoga (yes, I teach yoga as well), running, and going to different fitness classes from time to time.

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