When we think about moving to lose weight, many of us think of running. But is running as beneficial as we think it is? And could walking be just as good for you?
Walking vs Running For Weight Loss
They’re both cardio
Walking and running are on (apologies for the pun) even footing when it comes to the type of exercise. They are both cardiovascular exercises. Technically, they’re classed as aerobic cardiovascular, but most of us just call it cardio. Cardio is incredibly beneficial for your health. And not just your physical health. Cardio, it seems, is also beneficial for your mental health. One study found that just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio 3 times a week can reduce anxiety and depression. Even better, researchers and experts agree that you don’t need to exercise consistently for 30 minutes in order to reap the benefits. Walking for 10 minutes three times per day achieved the same result mental health-wise.
Other benefits of cardio include:
- Helps you lose weight and can also be beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight
- Increases stamina
- Strengthens the heart and aids in boosting heart health
- Helps in the prevention and management of chronic conditions
- Boosts the immune system
In order to stay fit, it’s best to aim for 150 minutes of cardio per week. It’s also best to mix in other types of exercise like strength workouts, swimming, or cycling.
Walking vs Running
Whilst walking is just as good for you as running, it burns calories at a much slower rate. In fact, running burns around double the calories that walking does. So, if the goal is to lose weight as quickly as possible, walking may not be the answer. However, having said that, it’s important that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. This is true in relation to almost everything. But with exercise, it’s vital. You really shouldn’t start running if you’re starting from a place of little or no activity. It’s likely best to increase your stamina and resilience through walking first. Walking on an incline, it’s good to note, burns just as many calories as running, just make sure that your form is good while you climb those hills!
During a 2013 National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Study, weight change and exercise levels were compared. The study group consisted of 50, 000 people of people that had been walking or running long term. The study found that walking was very effective for weight loss. However, the rate of change in weight was much slower in walkers than it was in runners. This slow rate of change and indeed much lower weight loss was much more prominent in men and women with a higher starting weight. In the other categories, however, walking was just as effective as running. This seems to indicate that if you have a higher starting weight and are fit enough to take it on, running might be the best solution.
What about for the body?
Over and above weight loss, there are other things to consider when you decide between walking and running. One of the major factors is your joints. Running can be incredibly hard on the joints. This isn’t down to the running itself. Unfortunately, many of us tend to run…badly for lack of a better word. Runner’s knee, for instance, the most reported injury, is common in those with muscle imbalances and those of us that run with poor form. Just like lifting weights, doing it properly is vital. Running with bad form can have a devastating impact on your joints. Hip, knee, and ankle pains are most common.
If you are suffering from joint pain, as a result of running, it’s best to have your form evaluated. Sometimes, weight gain and age are to blame, but it can also happen as a result of worn-out running shoes and, in the worst case, arthritis. A common misconception is that running causes arthritis. However, there is no proof that this is the case. Instead, when it comes to arthritis, your genetics are to blame.
So, to walk or to run?
Ultimately, when it comes to whether you decide to walk or run, it’s really up to you. If you’re one of those people that genuinely enjoy running and find it freeing as well as a great form of exercise, then keep it up! Clearly, it’s great for you! However, if you aren’t so keen on running or are starting from a position of little to no exercise, it’s best to start to walk before you run (again, apologies). If you are looking to get into running, you can always try a program like the couch to 5k. Ultimately, it’s all about personal preference. If you struggle with your joints or are simply more comfortable walking, you can happily continue knowing that it’s just as healthy as running. You might lose any extra weight a little more slowly walking than you would if you were running, but it doesn’t matter. Walk or run, it’s a win-win situation.