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Running or Walking: Which One Is Better for You?

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Ever wondered about the age-old debate about running or walking? Which one is better for your health? Now, understanding the benefits of these two fundamental exercises is key. It’s not just about speed, but also about how each impacts our body and mind.

Walking is a low-impact exercise suitable for all fitness levels, offering benefits like improved mood and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Meanwhile, running is a high-intensity workout that burns more calories and can lead to greater weight loss and cardiovascular benefits.

Today, we’ll provide you with an in-depth comparison of running and walking. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of which exercise suits your lifestyle and health goals better. Stay tuned!


Benefits of Walking

Walking offers all the benefits of cardiovascular exercises, along with these additional perks —

  • Mental Health: A daily 30-minute walk can lessen symptoms of depression, as found in a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. It’s also proven to improve feelings of self-worth and lower stress and anxiety.
  • Energy Boost: Opting for a walk up and down the stairs can increase your energy more effectively than coffee, according to research in the journal Physiology & Behavior.
  • Brain Health: Walking improves cognitive functions and memory, as reported in a study from the journal NeuroImage.

Benefits of Running

Running is an efficient way to fulfil your exercise needs, especially if you’re short on time. It’s also ideal if you’re aiming to participate in races or improve your speed and agility in sports.

Besides the general benefits of cardiovascular exercise, running offers additional advantages —

  • Longevity: A study showed that runners typically live three years longer than non-runners.
  • Mental Health: Running for two weeks can lessen depression symptoms, as found in a study in the journal Cortex. Even a brief, 10-minute treadmill session can improve your mood, according to research in Nature.
  • Stress Reduction: Runners generally experience lower stress levels and better psychological well-being compared to non-runners, as per a review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Memory Improvement: Just 15 minutes of running can strengthen memory, as reported in the journal Psychological Reports.

Benefits of Running

How to Avoid Injury While Running or Walking?

To keep yourself safe from injuries while running or walking, follow these steps —

  • Consult Your Healthcare Provider: Before beginning any new exercise routine, especially if you have existing health issues, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Warm-Up and Cool-Down: Always start and end your exercise sessions with a warm-up and cool-down period.
  • Stretch: Make sure to stretch both before and after exercising.
  • Wear Safety Gear: If you’re exercising outdoors, wear reflective materials and other safety equipment.

Start Gradually: Begin with a modest goal and slowly increase your exercise intensity. This gradual approach allows your body to adapt to the new routine and reduces the risk of injury.

Walking vs Running: A Comparison Chart

Walking vs Running: A Comparison Chart

When comparing walking and running, it’s clear that each has its unique benefits. Below is a chart to show how they compare —

Aspects Walking Running
Calorie Burn Lower calorie burn, ideal for gradual weight loss. Higher calorie burn, suitable for faster weight loss.
Impact on Joints Low-impact, gentler on joints. Great for beginners or those with joint concerns. High impact can strain joints. Higher injury risk.
Cardiovascular Health Increases heart health over time.

Slower to show results compared to running.

Rapidly improves heart health. More intense cardiovascular workout.
Mental Health Benefits Reduces stress and improves mood. Short walks are effective. Similar mental health benefits, but more intense due to higher exertion.
Accessibility Easy for all fitness levels. Simple to start and maintain. Demands more physical effort. May not suit complete beginners or those with certain health issues.
Speed and Power Generally slower than running. Power walking can approach running speeds. Faster and more vigorous. Involves a phase where both feet are off the ground.
Muscle Engagement Focuses on the lower body, and less intense muscle engagement than running. Engages more muscles, including the upper body, due to impact and motion.
Suitability for Weight Loss Effective over time with longer sessions. Quicker calorie burn, better for rapid weight loss.


Which Is Better for Weight Loss: Walking or Running?

When it comes to weight loss, it’s all about burning more calories than you take in. Running generally burns more calories than walking. For example, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that running a mile on a treadmill burns 33 more calories on average than walking the same distance.

Another study in the same journal showed that running led to 90% more weight loss than walking.

However, there are no quick fixes for losing weight. Whether you choose walking or running, it will take time to see results. To keep improving and avoid hitting a weight loss plateau, you might need to walk or run for longer periods, increase your pace, tackle hills, or add weight to your routine.


Which Is Better for Burning Belly Fat: Walking or Running?

Many of us sit on the fence wondering walking or running to burn belly fat. Well, both running and walking can help reduce belly fat, but they can’t target fat loss in specific areas.

In fact, a comprehensive review in PLoS One revealed that all aerobic exercises, including walking and running, decrease belly fat. More intense workouts, like running, tend to be more effective.

Walking is usually a low to moderate intensity exercise while running is moderate to high intensity. However, a study in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry showed that women with obesity who walked for 50 to 70 minutes 3 times a week successfully reduced their waist size and body fat in 12 weeks.

Which Is Better for Burning Belly Fat: Walking or Running?

Which Is Better for Joints: Walking or Running?

Running and walking both strengthen your bones as they are weight-bearing exercises. However, running has a higher impact on your joints and muscles due to its repetitive nature.

For instance, running a 10-minute mile means taking 1,700 steps, each creating a force of around 2.5 times your body weight. This force doesn’t necessarily lead to joint damage, though. A study in Arthritis Care & Research found that recreational running doesn’t harm your knees.

On the other hand, walking has much less impact, with forces around 1.2 times your body weight. This makes it a safer option for your joints. It’s especially beneficial for people with arthritis, helping to maintain joint flexibility.

To reduce the impact of running, try softer surfaces like gravel, dirt, or rubber tracks, which are easier on your joints. It’s especially beneficial for people with arthritis, helping to maintain joint flexibility.

To reduce the impact of running, try softer surfaces like gravel, dirt, or rubber tracks, which are easier on your joints.

Which Promotes Longer Life: Running or walking

Studies show that regular running and walking greatly benefit your health. Research involving 16,000 walkers and 33,000 runners over six years revealed that both activities equally reduce the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

Additionally, running and walking are equally good for your mental health. Staying active increases life quality, and both can uplift your mood, boost self-confidence, and assist in managing stress.


How to Start Walking, and Then Running

Running can be tough on your body, especially on your connective tissues. While it’s a myth that running inevitably damages your knees, runners do face a higher risk of short-term injuries compared to walkers. Starting with walking gives your body time to adjust, lowering the risk of injury.

Even seasoned runners returning from a break should ease back into their routine. It’s always wise to start any new exercise slowly and gently.

If you’re new to running or getting back into it, follow these steps —

Increase Your Steps

If you’re not used to exercising, aim to add an extra 3,000 steps to your daily routine, several times a week.

Gradually Speed Up

Dedicate 10 minutes of brisk walking three to four times a week. Start with an effort level of three to five out of 10. Over time, increase the length of these walks until you can comfortably walk for an hour.

Introducing Running into Your Routine

As your fitness improves and walking briskly becomes easier, it’s time to introduce running. After about a month or two, start mixing running with walking. Begin with a five-minute brisk walk to warm up. Then, alternate between a minute of jogging and three minutes of walking, repeating this cycle three to five times.

Gradually Shift to Running

Every week or two, try to run a bit longer and walk a bit less until you’re able to run continuously.

However, if you have heart disease or another chronic condition, or experience symptoms like chest pain, check with your doctor first. You might need a stress test or another evaluation before starting intense exercises.

Alternative Intensity Options

If running isn’t suitable or appealing, there are other ways to increase your workout intensity. For example, add hills to your walking route and speed up as you climb. Other options include using a trampoline or trying a HIIT workout, either on land or in a pool.

The best approach is to vary your activities. So, combine brisk walking or other moderate exercises with more vigorous workouts on different days. On days when you can’t do a full workout, aim to take more steps.



Deciding between running or walking depends on your fitness goals and health. Walking is easy on the body, improves health and mood, and works for everyone. It’s perfect if you want a low-stress workout.

Running, though, is more intense and great for losing weight and improving heart health. But it demands more effort and might be tough on your joints. Think about what you need for your health and what you enjoy doing.

Both walking and running are great for your health and can help you live a healthier life.


Is walking every day enough exercise?

Experts suggest 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise each week. Walking at a normal pace is moderate, but if you don’t walk briskly, consider adding some intense activities a few times a week.

Is it okay to run every day?

It depends on your fitness and past experience. Some people run daily without issues. Others need more rest days.

Research shows that running 5 to 10 minutes daily at a moderate speed improves heart health, lowers blood pressure, and reduces death risk. Short daily runs are beneficial, but if you run long or intensely, take at least one day off each week to recover.

What’s better, a 30-minute run or a 60-minute walk?

Both a quick walk and a slow run have similar health benefits. The World Health Organization advises 150-300 minutes of moderate activity or 75-150 minutes of intense activity weekly.

Which burns more calories, walking or running?

For a 160-pound person, running uses about 15.1 calories per minute, while walking uses 8.7 calories. On a 30-minute run, you’ll burn around 453 calories, compared to 261 calories during a 30-minute walk



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