Which is a Better Workout, Running or Walking?

Greatist
by Greatist
Share it:
Which is a Better Workout, Running or Walking?

Photo by Timothy Takemoto

By Katie Koerner | Greatist

Greatist Logo

There are many reasons why people start running: to stay slim, boost energy, or snag that treadmill next to our longtime gym crush. Running can help keep the heart healthy, improve mood, and stave off sickness; plus recent studies have found running is a great way to lose and maintain weight. But research suggests going full speed isn’t the only route to good health.

Now Walk (Or Run?) It Out – The Need-To-Know

While walking can provide many of the same health benefits associated with running, recent research suggests running may be the better bet for those looking to shed some pounds. Unsurprisingly, people expend two-and-a-half times more energy running than walking, whether that’s on the track or on the treadmill. So for a 160-lb person, running burns about 800 calories an hour compared to about 300 calories walking. And that equates to a pretty sizeable slice of pizza.

More interesting, a recent study found that even when runners and walkers expended equal amounts of energy (meaning walkers spent more time exercising and covered greater distances), runners still lost more weight. Not only did the runners begin the study slimmer than the walkers; they also had a better chance of maintaining their BMI and waist circumference.

That difference could possibly be explained by another recent study, which suggests that running regulates our appetite hormones better than walking. After running or walking, participants were invited to a buffet, where walkers consumed about 50 calories more than they had burned and runners ate almost 200 calories fewer than they’d burned. Runners also had higher levels of the hormone peptide YY, which may suppress appetite.

Beyond losing weight, walking may still be super beneficial to our health. Researchers looked at data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study and found that people who expended the same amount of calories — regardless of whether they were walking or running — saw pretty much the same health benefits. We’re talking a reduced risk of hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, and better cardiovascular health.

But even the most time-efficient athletes might want to think twice before sprinting away all the time. Running puts more stress on the body and increases the risk for injuries like runner’s knee, hamstring strains, and the dreaded shin splints (which plague even the the most consistent runners).

Walk This Way – Your Action Plan

When running isn’t in the cards, walking with weights might be the next best solution to getting in an energized workout. One study showed walking at 4 mph on the treadmill with hand and ankle weights was comparable to jogging at 5 mph without the extra poundage.

No matter which pace feels right, always make sure the body is ready for action. Sixty percent of runners experience an injury serious enough to keep them from being active. So remember that a sweat session may be too strenuous if talking to that workout buddy leaves us gasping for air (a.k.a. the talk test FAIL).

Listening to the body and completing a proper warm–up and cool down are all ways to prevent injuries, so stay informed and spend more time running on the treadmill (and less time running to the doctor).

Bored with both walking and running? There are about, oh, a bazillion other ways to keep active, from yoga and pilates to weight lifting and mountain biking, and pretty much everything in between. Don’t be afraid to try new activities to stay happy and healthy!

The Takeaway

Regular cardio (at any speed) can help keep the body healthy, not to mention improve mood and energy levels. But, lap for lap, running burns about 2.5 times more calories than walking. Running may also help control appetite, so runners may lose more weight than walkers no matter how far the walkers go. Still, running isn’t for everyone; going full-speed might increase injury risk. Adding hand and ankle weights can help pick up the intensity while maintaining a slower pace.

More from our friends at Greatist: 

Running or walking: Which do you prefer?

About the Author

Greatist
Greatist

Greatist helps you find what’s good for you. Not like “eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” More like “here are some choices you can realistically make, stick with, and feel really good about.” Because in the end, you don’t have to choose between being happy and being healthy; they’re really the same thing.

Greatist.Logo.White.RGB.Small

 

Related

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.

Great!

Click the 'Allow' Button Above

Awesome!

You're all set.