Many health conditions can be addressed with running or walking, both of which are great aerobic exercises. These don’t only stimulate weight loss, but also enhance the quality of your sleep, improve your mood, increase your energy level, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Although walking is generally more regarded as a mode of transport than exercise, it’s actually one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body and long-term health. For one thing, walking improves cardiovascular health, strengthens and tones your muscles and reduces the risk of disease.
Walking vs. Running
With similar energy expenditure, brisk walking is more efficient in reducing the risk of heart disease than running. According to a study where researchers compared data from two 6-year studies of 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers aged 18 to 80, walkers experienced greater health benefits than runners when the same amount of energy was burnt.
While running cuts down the risk of heart disease by 4.5%, walking reduced it by 9.3%. Plus, walking greatly affected heart disease risk factors, including:
- Risk of first-time high blood pressure was reduced by 4.2% by running and 7.2% by walking.
- First-time high cholesterol risk was lowered by 4.3% by running and 7% by walking.
- The risk of first-time diabetes was reduced by about 12% by both walking and running.
In the words of Dr Paul Williams, the study leader from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, both moderate-intensity walking and running provide great health benefits due to the fact that they involve the same muscle groups. The only difference is that they are performed at different intensities. The runners and walkers had to expend the same energy to get the same benefits, which means you’d have to walk longer than you’d have to run in order to have the same effect.
The other advantages of these two outdoor activities are that both are cost-free, easy-to-do anywhere, year-round, and are even social activities. However, running is more demanding than walking; first you must choose an appropriate running program to maximize your conditioning in minimum time.
Dangers Of Pushing Too Hard
A Danish study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, revealed that people who overstrain their bodies may in fact undo the benefit of exercise. Those who ran at a fast pace more than four hours a week, and more than three times per week, were at the same risk of dying during the study’s 12-year follow up, as those who led sedentary life and hardly exercised at all.
Actually, the study found that those who ran less than three times a week for one to 2.4 hours, at a slow to moderate pace were at the lowest risk of dying during the study. Surprisingly, even people who ran slightly more, for 2.5 hours to four hours a week at an average pace, less than 3 times a week, were at a slightly higher mortality risk of 66%.
According to the final results, the best option one can take is the one closer to the ‘less’ side of the curve than the ‘more’ side, meaning you can get the same health and fitness benefits by walking more instead of running more.
Why Walking is Great For Almost Everyone
Walking is ideal for those who are just taking up exercise or those experiencing health problems. Plus, walking can be less stressful on the body for those seriously overweight. In addition, when comparing the pros and cons of running and walking, the repetitive nature of running makes it a greater risk for injury. Also, running is regarded as a high impact exercise, which can lead to injury to the hip, knee and ankle joints. Walking, on the other hand, is a low impact activity and is less harmful to the body.
Walking may be easier on your hip and knee joints, but you should still do lunges or squats twice a week. The RealAge benefit of 10,000 steps a day is feeling 4.6 years younger for women and 4.1 for men. In addition, you can come up with ways to include walking in your work, for example a walking meeting or a treadmill desk.
Still Wanting To Run Rather Than Walk?
In case running is still your no.1 choice, consider a way to lower your risk of injury; for instance, running on the best surfaces such as grass, woodland trails, earth, cinders and man-made tracks. Moreover, good quality shoes are a must. Finally, make sure you run with correct form and steadily increase your mileage.