Running or Walking: Which Is Better for Longterm Fitness?


Running and walking are the two most popular types of cardiovascular exercise in America,  but which is better for the light of foot in terms of longterm fitness goals? Many runners caution against just walking, insisting that walks do not burn enough calories for weight loss. Walkers, in turn, warn that running can be too hard on the joints and bones over prolonged periods of time. A number of studies have been conducted in regards to the age-old debate concerning whether the stroll or the sprint wins this race for better health. And the conclusions?

Running does burn more calories than walking per hour, which makes running a better fit for those whose longterm fitness goals centered around weight loss. A study completed by the Life Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory compared recreational runners and walkers in 2013. The survey compared stats such as age, weight, height, health risks and existing health problems, and took a sampling of nearly 50,000 runners and walkers over the course of six years. The results proved that runners, statistically, were in better shape overall. It should be noted, however, that running is not advisable for those with strained or overused joints. Hips and knee joints, as well as ankles and larger groups of muscles in the legs, in particular, are commonly susceptible to injury in habitual and distance runners.

Walking has a real edge over running in how accessible it is for a person to start doing, however. Walking does not place undue strain on the joints, does not strain or tear muscles, and does not require shoes that are designed to specially absorb the shock of pounding the pavement, which running does. Running has also been known to elevate the likelihood of cardiac distress in distance activities, such as marathons. Likewise, running has been linked to osteoarthritis as well as damage to cartilage over time. Choosing which habit, running or walking, is better for longterm fitness goals is up to the individual; the choice seems to be centered around whether a person is looking for rapid weight loss and increased endurance, or in building a manageable routine and maintaining a healthy body.

Research suggests that walking can offer the same health benefits as its speedier cousin if the activity is done for a longer period of time. It is not inadvisable, either, to both run and walk in variation. Fitness experts urge runners and walkers alike to listen to their bodies and to neither strain nor take it too easy where personal fitness is concerned. The benefits of both activities manifest themselves over time and bear repeating for the best results.

The benefits of running and walking extend beyond better heart and respiratory health, although those are the most frequently cited reasons for taking up the practice. (Factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiovascular fitness are often factors evaluated in runners over time to show that sustained aerobic activity does a body good.) Running and walking both, over time, have been proven to regulate mood, improve digestive health, flexibility, motor skills, endurance, skin condition, and more. Running and walking have been proven to increase confidence and help alleviate stress, also. Both activities are a great precursor or supplement to other workout routines as well, helping add variety and stamina to a weight lifting or crossfit program, or to build new muscle gained from the strength and core training of yoga or pilates practice. Fitness experts suggest that 10,000 steps in either running or walking should be the goal to which both runners and walkers aspire, since this is the point at which research supports weight loss and appetite suppression across the board.

While trends come and go, ambulatory cardio has survived the test of time as an accessible hobby that is flexible, fulfilling and fun for  so many Americans. Deciding whether walking or running is right for an individual all depends on that person’s longterm fitness goals, as well as which activity is most accessible. Fitness experts suggest that simply making time for cardio is the first and most important step to regulating weight and achieving fitness objectives. Establishing an exercise routine is sometimes the most challenging part about creating a workout regimen; once a person carves out a plan and can find the resolve to stick to it, fitness gurus insist that the rest will naturally follow.

By Mariah Beckman

NY Times 
Mother Nature Network 
Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory

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