Before studying walking vs running, you should know that they are both excellent aerobic exercises. Besides stimulating weight loss, they are recommended for many other health problems. For example, these physical activities can improve your sleep quality, energy level, and mood. Also, they can reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Generally speaking, the human being spends a lot more time walking than running – which is a good thing.
Walking is extremely beneficial to your body and overall health. It strengthens and tones your muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and lowers the risk of various diseases.
Walking vs Running
When comparing brisk walking and running with similar energy expenditure, brisk walking turned out to be more effective in reducing the chances of developing heart disease than running. One large study reviewed two studies, each one lasting for six years, involving 15,045 walkers and 33,060 runners at the age between 18 and 80.
What researchers discovered was that walkers had greater health benefits than the opposite group with same energy expenditure (the amount of energy one needs to carry out a physical function.)
Namely, walking reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.3%, while running reduced it by 4.5%. What’s more, walking showed to affect the following heart disease factors:
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- First-time hypertension risk – walking reduced it by 7.2%, while running by 4.2%
- The risk of first-time high cholesterol – walking reduced it by 7%, whereas running by 4.3%
- The risk of first-time high blood sugar levels – both, running and walking lowered it by about 12%
According to the leading researcher, Dr. Paul Williams from the Berkeley Lab in California, running and moderate-intensity walking are affecting the same muscle groups. Therefore, they both provide excellent health benefits with the only difference that you perform them at different intensity.
Both walkers and runners have to spend the same amount of energy (calories) to obtain the same benefits. In other words, you need to walk longer than you need to run to get the same effect.
Furthermore, both activities are performed outdoors so you can do them anywhere, anytime, without costing you anything. Nevertheless, you must admit that running is more challenging than walking.
Dangers of Pushing too Hard
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a Danish study which says overtraining can actually undo the benefits of exercise. In fact, the study revealed that the participants who ran at a fast pace more than 3 times weekly for over 4 hours, had the same risk of death as those who hardly exercised and led a sedentary lifestyle.
Also, the researchers discovered that the mortality risk is lowest in those who ran not more than 3 times per week for 1-2.4 hours. Shockingly, those who ran at an average pace 3 times a week, and a bit longer, for 2.5 to 4 hours, had 66% higher risk of death.
As a conclusion, researchers recommend walking more than running more to get the same health and fitness benefits.
Walking Is Great for Nearly Everyone
Walking is great for anyone, regardless if the person has a certain health problem or just wants to practice exercise. What’s more, it’s highly recommended for obese people or anyone who wants to lose weight since it doesn’t put too much stress on their bodies. Also, running poses a higher risk of knee, hip, and ankle joint injuries. On the other hand, walking is a low impact activity, so it’s less harmful.
Even though walking is great for your knees and hips, don’t forget to do squats or lunges twice per week. Doing 10,000 steps on a daily basis can make women 4.6 years younger, and men younger by 4.1 years. Try to include walking in your everyday life, such as working on a treadmill desk or having walking meetings.
Running Is Still Your Priority?
If after this walking vs running analysis you’re still more for running, make sure you reduce the chances of injury by running on woodland trails, grass, cinders, earth, and human-made tracks. Also, always choose high-quality running shoes and gradually increase your mileage.