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Running VS Walking

Running vs walking, which is better for your health? Seems like a simple enough question. But the answer is actually quite complex and depends on the person asking the question and what that person would like to accomplish.Both forms of exercise has it’s strengths and weaknesses and figuring out whats best for your goals and over all health can be challenging. So lets take a look at what the latest studies have to say about both.

Running the pro’s

If you are looking to lose weight running is the clear winner over walking. A study published in April 2013 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that when followed over a six year period runners were thinner than walkers and stayed that way throughout the duration of the study. The runners body mass index’s as well as their waistline measurements were smaller than the walkers and they maintained those numbers better than the walkers did. This was true even when the walkers and the runners burned equal numbers of calories over the course of the week. It’s not understood exactly why that should be the case but another recent study showed that¬†running seems to regulate appetite hormones better than walking. Another advantage for running is that it takes less than half the time to get in your workout. Running burns two-and-a-half times more energy than walking. A 160 pound person will burn approximately 800 calories an hour running compared to 300 calories burned by the same person who is walking. So if time is at a premium for you running is the way to go to get the most bang for your buck.

Running the cons

The downside to running is that your risk of injury goes up.The more miles you run the higher your risk of injury is which is not the case with walking. Running is also a high impact activity putting a significant amount of wear and tear on joints. The 5 most common runners injuries are

Runners knee

Meniscus tear

Shin splints

Achilles tendinitis

Plantar fasciitis

Walking the pro’s

If you are looking to improve your heart health then walking is the activity for you. According to the report in the American Heart Associations journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology while runners lowered their risk of heart disease by 4.5 percent walkers who expended the same amount of energy lowered their risk of heart disease by 9.3 percent. Walking also had a bigger impact on the risk factors for heart disease. High-cholesterol risk was lowered by 7 percent for walkers compared to 4.3 percent for runners.

The risk for first-time high blood pressure was reduced by 4.3 percent in runners and 7.2 percent in the walkers and the diabetes risk was lowered by 12 percent in both groups.

In terms of overall health walking and running have pretty much equal health benefits, they both improve heart health, improve brain function and lower your risk of disease. But walking can also save wear and tear on your body with far less risk of injury. If your ultimate goal is to be healthier in the long term walking is just what the doctor ordered…literally.

Walking the con’s

If you are training for an athletic event like 5K run, a marathon or even a friendly game of hoops walking is not going to help much with your athletic performance. To improve in these arena’s ¬†you will have to do sport specific training which will more than likely include some kind of running. Walking will do very little to improve athletic performance, though it can be helpful in recovery after high intensity sport performance.

The biggest downside to walking is the added time it takes to get your workout in but if you have the time walking is a very enjoyable low impact way to get healthier.

The bottom line is in the running vs walking debate both sides have valid points and hard science to back up their health claims. Which means it all depends on what your goals are and how much time you have to reach those goals. That’s right in running vs walking everybody wins.