There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “Is running better than walking?” As you’ll soon see, it depends on your health and fitness goals.
It’s no secret that cardiovascular exercise is vital for a healthy lifestyle. But you may have heard that running has a higher risk of injuries; statistics show that 50% or more of regular runners have injuries yearly. Nevertheless, running is better than walking if you want to lose weight fast, whereas walking is better for people with pain or mobility issues.
Benefits of Running vs. Walking
Regardless of your preferred exercise, running and walking have many health benefits. Below are the advantages of each.
- Burns about twice the calories
- Better cardiovascular fitness improvement
- Improved muscle and bone strengthening
- Easier on joints
- Ideal for people out of shape
- Reduces pain from arthritis
The bottom line is that if you’re trying to squeeze into a dress or suit for an upcoming event, you’ll have faster results by running rather than walking off your muffin top. That’s because you’d need to walk twice as long as you run to burn the same amount of calories, assuming you’re running more intensely than you walk.
Since one pound equals about 3,500 calories, it’s a greater time commitment to use walking as a way to lose weight faster.
However, walking is a gentler way to get cardiovascular exercise if you’re out of shape or suffer from joint pain. Studies even show that walking only five or six miles per week can prevent arthritis from developing.
Remember there are plenty of alternatives to running. If you are looking for something else with a high impact check out our alternatives to running for cardio exercise.
You don’t need me to tell you that walking and running look different from the outside. But the good news is that they share many similar internal benefits. Examples include:
- Reduce stress
- Improve circulation
- Support brain health
- Tone muscles
- Encourage deeper sleep
- Aid with blood sugar control
- Release endorphins for energy
Leveling up Your Walking Routine
You now know the answer to “Is running better than walking?” depends on your goals, health, and current fitness.
But you might be wondering if you can make walking more challenging. After all, an elderly neighbor walking their Chihuahua is different from the neighbor down the road that does power walking.
Below are some ways to burn extra calories and build muscle by making walking more challenging.
- Walk at a speed of at least three miles per hour
- Use a weighted vest or dumbbells
- Exercise on an incline
Did you know that power walking, the concept of elevating your heart rate by walking at least three miles per hour, offers the potential to burn around the same number of calories as jogging?
Some power walkers can even walk as fast as ten miles per hour. That’s a tremendous speed and can result in even more calories burned than the casual runner.
It takes practice to achieve such levels, though, as most people power walk between three to five miles per hour.
Find out more about the benefits of walking or running with a weighted vest.
Risks of High-impact Exercise
Running is a higher impact sport than walking. While I love to run, I’ve fallen victim to being part of the statistic for running-related injuries.
Some common injuries that can result from running include:
- Shin splints
- Runner’s knee
- Stress fracture
- Ankle sprain
- IT band syndrome
- Achilles tendinopathy
I’ll stop there; you get the point.
Needless to say, it’s common for even experienced runners to encounter injury setbacks when exercising. So, if you’re new to running, it’s crucial to ease yourself into it, ensuring you listen to your body and stop if you feel any sharp pain.
Easing Into Running
If your goal is to increase your fitness so you can run, harnessing the benefits of walking is an excellent place to start.
I recommend working with a professional trainer and doctor to determine a tailored workout routine according to your current fitness and health. However, you can expect the training to start with walking for a certain period, likely having you move between faster and slower intervals.
You’ll then add some interval jogging. Before you know it, you’ll be able to run the entire segment of time that you used to walk.
Determining How Long To Run or Walk
Whether you run, walk, or do a combination of both, the rule of thumb goes as follows: Get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-level cardiovascular exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Walking typically falls under the moderate cardiovascular category, and running under vigorous exercise.
However, as we saw above, the intensity you put into either workout influences calories burned and other benefits for your body. So, if your “run” barely classifies as a jog, the power walker flying by you is likely on the other end of the “vigorous exercise” category than you.