Should you walk or should you run? What is better for you in terms of caloric expenditure, weight loss, cardiovascular fitness and overall health?
According to an article on NBC’s Today’s Health website, “Walking really is just as good for you as running – but only if you compare it in terms of calories burned and not merely on time spent.” The recent study was published in the American Heart Association Journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
Researchers on both coasts followed dedicated runners and walkers for six years. The study comprised participants already taking part in the National Runners’ Health Study and National Walkers’ Health Study.
More than 30,000 runners and 15,000 walkers were measured for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol at the commencement of the study and then again at the end of six years.
In an interview with NBC News, researcher Paul Williams of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said, “It takes longer to walk a mile than to run a mile, but if you match them up on the energy expended, they are comparable. If you do the same amount of exercise – if you expend the same number of calories – you get the same benefit.”
However, you also need to take into consideration your own body's ability and whether or not you have injuries. If you should have contraindications for running, it is obviously better to walk. If you are overweight or obese, the impact on the body when running could make you more prone to injuries.
You should also check with your doctor about your cardiovascular health to see what is appropriate for you.
My suggestion would be to start slow until you lose some of the weight, then upgrade to a jog and then to a run. But, according to the Mayo Clinic, you do not have to do more than walk to keep your heart healthy. “Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.”
In another article on NBC News, the benefits of long, slow walks over running was studied. The Norwegian study released earlier this year was conducted at Maastricht University.