There’s no debate that walking and running are both excellent forms of exercise with plenty of benefits, from enhancing heart health to promoting stronger bones. So, when it comes to cardio, which should you choose – to walk or to run? Arguments can be made for both, so it’s worth considering your goals and the various ways each exercise influences your body when making your decision.
The Case for Running
- Running is particularly effective for burning calories because it is a less efficient movement and more demanding on the body than walking. Depending on your pace, you can burn more than twice as many calories per minute as you would walking.
- Contrary to popular belief, running is not necessarily worse for your joints than walking. In fact, it’s been found that running regularly may even help prevent joint problems later on. In a study published in 2017 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, almost 59% of non-runners had osteoarthritis in their knees compared to 53% of runners.
- Running gets a bad rap for causing injuries, but this is often because many people who are just starting to run try to do too much too quickly. By taking it slow and gradually increasing your speed, distance, and frequency, runners are able to steer clear of unfortunate injuries.
The Case for Walking
- It’s been found that mile for mile, brisk walking lowers the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure as much as running does – it just takes a longer amount of time. Looking to burn calories? The same rule applies – it’s possible, but will take longer. For instance, a 15-minute jog burns about the same number of calories as a 30-minute brisk walk.
- Regarding heart health, walking may have a slight advantage. In a 2013 study that analyzed data from nearly 50,000 people involved in the National Runners’ Health Study II and National Walkers’ Health Study, researchers concluded that while runners’ risk of cardiovascular disease was four and a half percent lower than those were inactive, walkers who burned the same amount of calories as runners had a risk level that was an impressive nine percent lower.
- Each step taken while running produces an impact of three times the body weight, whereas walking only uses half that force. As an exercise novice, walking is one of the safest options available because of its low-impact nature.
What’s the Verdict?
Taking all this information into account, should you walk or run? The short answer is either! Doing some combination of the two is ideal, but the best choice is focusing on the activity you can, and actually will do. Whether you choose to walk or run for exercise depends on your schedule, fitness level, and your body’s history. It’s important to do what’s comfortable for you but also appropriate for your age, fitness levels, and injury history.
At POA we’re committed to getting you moving safely and successfully. Contact us to learn more about knee arthroscopy, foot and ankle disorders, sports medicine, and more. Our supportive and insightful orthopedic doctors work with you to achieve your personal goals.