Both activities are great ways to stay in shape, however if you want to drop weight faster, running wins.
Why? A few reasons. Running is more strenuous, so there’s no surprises the potential calorie burn is far greater — 2.5 times more calories than walking.
Secondly, researchers found that post-exercise appetite suppression is greater after vigorous exercise, with participants eating fewer calories post workout — provided you don’t fall into the trap of a post-workout splurge and ‘reward’ yourself with a few extra slices of pizza.
So the winner is clearly running, although walking is the perfect place to start if you’re new to exercise. To torch extra calories, walkers can make up that difference by going farther in distance or, better still, incorporate speed intervals and slowly build up to running as fitness improves — especially if you’re short on time.
In other words, the harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn, which is the key to losing weight.
Whenever you start a new form of exercise your heart, muscles, and bones all need time to adapt, and too much too soon (without adequate recovery) makes you susceptible to strains, sprains, stress fractures, and even overtraining and illness. For this reason, it’s important to build up gradually and listen to how your body responds.
The winner: Walking and running are both safe when included as part of a balanced exercise program. To prevent overtraining, alternate days of walking or running with strength training. Listening to the body and completing a proper warm-up and cool down is key in preventing injuries.
The truth is, any form of physical activity is going to benefit heart health, but pushing yourself harder may not necessarily be better. A well-known study which looked at 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers showed that brisk walking cuts the risk of heart trouble, including high blood pressure and diabetes slightly more than running when the same energy is expended — this meant it took walkers twice as long to burn the same number of calories.
Other studies suggest doing too much high-intensity exercise may increase risks of dying from a heart attack or developing an irregular heart rhythm later in life.
Why? When you exercise intensively your heart has to pump harder and after 60 minutes of intense physical activity, like running, the chambers of your heart begin to stretch and can overwhelm the muscle’s ability to adapt.
For the average fit, healthy person this adaptation is not a problem, but any underlying conditions may put you at greater risk. This is why it’s important to check with your GP before starting an intense training program.
The winner: Brisk walking and running both improve heart health provided you build up gradually and do it regularly.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All exercise researchers seemed to agree on one thing: The best exercise is the one you enjoy and likely to stick with long term. But whether you choose to run or walk will depend on your goals and preferences.
One could choose walking based on injury risks, or choose running because the health and weight benefits that happen in a shorter period of time. Nonetheless, both will help manage weight, improve your sleep, elevate your mood, boost your energy level and cut the risk of chronic disease.