Is it just us or have you noticed so many more people out walking and running as they strive to get their daily allowed outdoor exercise in? Due to this we have been asked a few times which is best for you walking or running? Well, let’s take a look…
Walking and running are both excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise. Neither is necessarily ‘better’ than the other and the choice of what is best for you depends entirely on your fitness and health goals.
In a nutshell, if your goal is to burn more calories and lose weight fast, then running is a better choice, however, please understand there is a difference between ‘weight loss’ and ‘fat loss’. All those extra calories you burn from running over walking, won’t come from fat alone they will be a mixture of fat and glycogen (the body’s stored carbs), so your ‘weight loss’ could be a mix of fat, muscle and water.
Both walking and running are aerobic, or cardiovascular exercise (often referred to as CV or cardio exercise), and as such they offer numerous benefits for your health, including.…
- Helping you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Increasing your stamina
- Boosting your immune system
- Helping prevent or manage chronic conditions
- Strengthening your heart
- Improving your quality of life
- Possibly extending your life
Cardiovascular exercise is also good for your mental health. One study found that just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise three times a week reduces anxiety and depression. It can also improve your mood and self-esteem. The same study also found that it’s not necessary to exercise for 30 straight minutes to experience these benefits, walking for 10 minutes at a time three times a day resulted in the same mental health boost.
If, like many at this time, you’re new to exercise or aren’t able to run, walking can still help you get in shape. Walking is accessible for nearly all fitness levels, with different types of walking available. From the leisurely stroll with your family (provided you all live in the same house at present) to brisk walking and power walking. Power walking is usually considered from 3 mph to 5 mph, but some power walkers reach speeds of 7 to 10 mph.
You could also try interval walking as well, where you pick up the speed and walk quickly for a certain amount of time before slowing down. For example, you could walk quickly for 1 minute and then slow down for 1 minute and then repeat, or use 2 minutes quick and 1 minute slow, or 3 minutes quick and 2 minutes slow etc. Experiment with the intervals and vary what you do.
As well as all the benefits of walking and running it’s worth bearing in mind running is a high-impact exercise and as such may have a more detrimental effect on your joints. The caveat to this though, is if you walk the same distance as you would run, you take more steps and although the impact per step is less, the effect is accumulative, so it could create the same joint issues as running. Also, over time, running may lead to common overuse injuries such as:
- Stress fractures
- Shin splints
- ITB friction syndrome
In fact, runners have a much higher risk for exercise-related injury than walkers. Walkers have an approximate 1% to 5% injury risk, while runners have a 20% to 70% chance.
So, to summarise, both walking and running are excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise, and either will give you many health benefits as previously described. Your choice may simply come down to personal preference or current level of fitness.
Walking is a smart choice if you’re new to exercise and hoping to get in shape, but if you’re new to running or would like to start running, start with a program where you alternate between walking and running, such as ‘Couch to 5K’. Whichever you choose, aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise each week.
Also remember these are both cardio exercise and it is just as important to focus on resistance exercise to maintain or build your strength. We will discuss Resistance and Strength Training in another post.
Remember to always check with your doctor or health professional before beginning a new exercise routine.