Walking vs. Running | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


Walking vs. Running: Which is better? While this may be the million dollar question, the reality is that it all comes down to what you want to accomplish.

Aerobic activity added into any routine has been proven to promote weight loss, improve sleep, elevate mood, boost energy levels, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The good news is that both running and walking contribute to overall better health. And they’re free. And can be done anywhere at any time.

Research studies have proven that runners tend to lose and maintain their weight better than walkers. The New York Times published an op-ed article that analyzed a research study that included survey data from 15,237 walkers and 32,215 runners who enrolled in the National Runners and Walkers Health Study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. The study concluded that not only do runners tend to manage their waistlines better, they also eat less compared to walkers.

The difference was particularly notable among participants over 55. Runners in this age group were not running a lot and generally were barely expending more calories per week during exercise than older walkers. But their body mass indexes and waist circumferences remained significantly lower than those of age-matched walkers.

Why running should better aid weight management than walking is not altogether clear. It might seem obvious that running, being more strenuous than walking, burns more calories per hour. And that’s true. But in the Berkeley study and others, when energy expenditure was approximately matched — when walkers head out for hours of rambling and burn the same number of calories over the course of a week as runners — the runners seem able to control their weight better over the long term.

For additional health benefits, though, walkers have come out on top.

And in perhaps the most comforting of the new studies, published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and again using numbers from the versatile Runners and Walkers Health Study, runners had far less risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol profiles, diabetes and heart disease than their sedentary peers. But the walkers were doing even better. Runners, for instance, reduced their risk of heart disease by about 4.5 percent if they ran an hour a day. Walkers who expended the same amount of energy per day reduced their risk of heart disease by more than 9 percent.

Walking burns more fat than running. While exercising at a lower intensity, fat is being used as fuel. Runners, however, carbohydrates are used to fuel the exercise. Running naturally burns more calories faster than walking, too.

It’s important to listen to your body and determine what you are able to do. Running is considered a high intensity workout and can be tough on joints. Runners are far more prone to injury than walkers because of the repetitive motions. It’s important for runners to follow a program or start with shorter distances and work their way up to improve endurance and build muscle, reducing the risk of injury.

Whether you walk or run or do BOTH, aerobic exercise should be an important component of your exercise plan.

{SOUND OFF} Are you a walker, a runner, or both?



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