Can I Get As Good A Workout Walking As I Do Running?
Updated: Feb 27
People start running for a multitude of reasons–reducing stress, boosting energy, or losing weight, just to name a few. In addition, running can improve your mood, keep your heart healthy, and stave off sickness. However, (depending on your personal goals) going full speed is not the only route to good health.
While walking can provide many of the same health benefits associated with running, there is increasing evidence that suggests that running may be best for weight loss. People expend 2.5 times more energy running than walking, whether that’s on the track or on the treadmill. This means that for a 160 lb individual (for example), running at a speed of 8 mph would burn over 800 calories/hour compared to around 300 calories/hour walking at 3.5 mph. And when equal amounts of energy were expended (meaning that walkers spent more time exercising), one study found that runners still lost more weight. In this particular study, the runners also had a better chance of maintaining their BMI (Body Mass Index) and waist circumference.
In addition, running may regulate appetite hormones better than walking. In another study, participants were invited to a buffet–walkers consumed about 50 calories more than they had burned while runners ate almost 200 calories fewer than they had burned. Researchers think that this may be linked with the runners’ elevated levels of the hormone peptide YY, which may suppress appetite.
So, Should I just Give Up Walking Altogether…?
Absolutely not! Aside from the most obvious benefit, weight loss, walking certainly has definite plusses. Researchers looked at data from the National Walkers’ Health Study and found that individuals who expended the same amount of calories saw many of the same health benefits. Regardless of whether they were walking or running, people saw a reduced risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and improved overall cardiovascular health. And, running does have it’s drawbacks, like putting more stress on the body and an increased risk of injuries such as shin splints, hamstring strains, and runner’s knee.
Ok…So If I Prefer Walking, What Can I Do To Increase My Exercise Intensity?
When running isn’t in the cards, walking with added weight might be your next best bet for an effective workout. Research shows that walking on a treadmill while wearing a weighted vest can increase the metabolic costs and relative exercise intensity. Similarly, increasing the incline on the treadmill makes for a more effective walking workout. One research study showed that walking on a treadmill at a slow speed (1.7 mph) at a 6 degree incline can be an effective weight management strategy for obese individuals, as well as help to reduce the risk of injury to the joints of the lower extremity. And picking up the pace certainly almost always helps.
No matter what pace feels right for you, listening to your body and completing a proper warm-up and cool down are all ways to prevent injuries. That way, you can spend more time running for exercise and less time running to your doctor!
So What’s The Bottom Line?
Regular cardio (at any speed) is part of a healthy lifestyle. But lap for lap, running burns about 2.5 times more calories than walking. Running may also help to control appetite, so runners may lose more weight than walkers no matter how far the walkers go. Still, running isn’t for everyone, and jumping in by starting out going full-speed may increase your risk of injury. Also, adding resistance such as weights and/or inclines can help you to pick up the intensity while maintaining a slower pace.
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury while running or walking, don’t wait to take action. Call my office at once at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at www.wildermanphysicaltherapy.com and schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation to see how Physical Therapy can help. Don’t wait–schedule now!
Photo by Josh Gordon on Unsplash