Walking and running are the two most common forms of exercise. Humans have been walking and running since the beginning of our existence—long before we had gyms, yoga studios, weights and fitness equipment.
The issue of which is better—walking or running—has long been debated. Which of the two provides the greatest health benefit? Which promotes the most weight loss?
Let’s take a look at some of the differences between walking and running and the benefits of each.
If it’s weight loss you’re after, running should be your exercise of choice. It’s a given that running burns more calories than walking, but even in studies where energy expenditures were balanced, the runners were better able to maintain weight control over the long term.
The number of calories you consume on a daily basis is one of the core figures in the weight loss equation. You’ve got to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight. One study published in The Journal of Obesity found that runners consumed nearly 200 fewer calories than they burned while running, whereas walkers consumed about 50 calories more than they burned. The runners also tested for higher blood levels of the hormone peptide YY, which is known to suppress appetite. The walkers did not have increased peptide YY levels.
Age-Related Eye Conditions
Data from the Runners and Walkers Health Study suggests that both walkers and runners have equally lower risks of developing age-related cataracts compared to people who are sedentary.
Numbers from the same Runners and Walkers Heath Study show that runners have lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease than sedentary people. Runners who ran an hour per day reduced their risk of heart disease by 4.5 percent. Walkers who expended the same amount of energy, on the other hand, reduced their risk of heart disease by more than 9 percent.
Running puts far more stress on the body and joints than walking, increasing risk of injuries like runner’s knee and shin splints. Running is considered a high-impact activity and can cause damage to the hips, knees and ankle joints. Walking, however, is low impact, reducing the risk of injury.
Walking and running both have benefits. If it’s been a while since you have worked out, start with walking, gradually increasing your speed to a jog. Consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.