Walking vs Running- Which one is better for you?
by Zoya Hett
Studies have gone back and forth on the question for a while, is going for a walk as good as a run? Running is a high intense activity, with studies showing that is great for building aerobic fitness and is better for burning calories in a shorter period of time. However, it is also a high risk for injuries and some people just don’t like it (including myself). So can walking give you the same benefits as running? here I have compared the two, with a few things that need to be taken into consideration, to ensure you are doing the one that is best for you.
It is about intensity
When running the higher the intensity (such as interval training) the harder our heart pumps blood around the body. This allows our heart to become stronger , it also increases the number of red blood cells and lowers our resting heart rate making us fitter as a result. Running has also been shown to have other numerous health benefits such as decreasing our risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
But can walking make you fit?
Absolutely, research has shown that walking can have the same health benefits as running, but the intensity needs to be high. Studies have shown that a brisk walking pace of 5-12km/ hour is the pace that you need to get similar benefits as a run. so If you choose to walk for fitness here are some tips to get there:
Tips for getting fit for walking
Increase gradually: Start off with 10-20 minute walking sessions if you are new to exercise, on most days. Then gradually work up to 30-45 minutes most days of the week.
Add hills: Walking up hills will get your leg muscles working and stronger.
Walk whenever you can: Add a few walks throughout the day, try a 15 minute walk on your lunch break.
Try adding some hand weights or a weighted backpack. Studies showed that a brisk walk with a small amount of weight had similar benefits to fitness when compared to a slow jog.
Add intervals: If you cannot sustain a fast walking pace for a long period of time try walking at different intensities in intervals. For example: 2 minutes slow, 2 minutes moderate, 2 minutes as fast as you can, then back to the beginning.
For weight loss
When it comes to comparing walking and running the main question is which one will help me lose weight? Both running and walking can burn the similar amount of calories over the same distance, however walking may take twice as long.
Comparing calories burned
Running for 30 minutes, 12km/hour burns 374 cal / 1564 kJ*
Walking for 1 hour- 6.5km/hour burns 325cals/ 1360kj*
*based on a 70kg individual.
But it is a balancing act
Although running does burn almost twice the amount of calories in half the time as walking, it is still about balance. Exercising to lose weight won't work if your diet is not in check, so make sure you are fuelling your workouts with natural whole foods and are eating mindfully and not over indulging in foods.
The bottom line: It is about enjoyment!
Regular exercise in the form of running or walking can still keep you healthy and help you lose weight. The bottom line is, to ensure that you are exercising in a way that you love and enjoy to make it sustainable for the long term.
Note: Please see your doctor before trying any new exercise programs.
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Williams. P., Thompson, P. (2013). The Relationship of Walking Intensity to Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. Results from the National Walkers’ Health Study. PLOS
Williams. P. (2013) Greater weight loss from running than walking during a 6.2-yr prospective follow-up. Journal of Medical and Sports Science.