One of the long-standing debates in the fitness world is whether walking or running is better for your health. Both exercises are definitely beneficial, as they can improve cardiovascular fitness, decrease blood pressure, increase energy levels, improve sleep, and promote weight loss. Not only that, but both walking and running are very simple exercises to perform, and can be done on a year-round basis - especially in a club like Five Seasons!
Despite all of their similarities, many exercise enthusiasts lean towards running because it's a more vigorous exercise, which makes it seem like a better choice for keeping the body in shape. Well, not so fast--there's quite a bit of information out there that can challenge that idea. Below are some surprising, myth-busting insights that can help settle the whole "walking vs. running" debate.
Walking vs. Running: What Does the Research Say?
One of the most interesting studies to come to light in recent years was published by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. After studying the data of nearly 16,000 walkers and 33,000 runners over a period of six years, researchers discovered that walking had a slight edge over running in terms of producing positive health benefits.
In fact, walking demonstrated a higher level of effectiveness across an impressive range of categories, decreasing key risk factors for several major health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
There is a catch, however--in order for walking to produce these superior benefits, you would have to expend the same amount of energy when performing both of these activities. In other words, you would have to walk longer than you would have to run in order to get the same effect.
Walking Burns More Fat, But Running Burns More Calories
This statement almost seems counter-intuitive because we equate fat-burning with intense exercise, and we all know that running is the more intense exercise of the two. So how can walking burn more fat? The answer lies in how your body responds to different levels of exercise intensity.
When you exercise at a moderate pace, your body tends to use fat for fuel, but once you crank up the intensity level (e.g., going from a walk to a run), your body begins to seek a source of "quick burn" fuel to meet its immediate energy demands, and this fuel typically comes in the form of carbohydrates.
While this is a key point, keep in mind that the real determinant of weight loss will be how many calories you burn during your workout. In that regard, running takes the lead; in fact, one 30-minute session of running at 6 mph will burn about 365 calories, while walking at 4 mph for that same amount of time will net you 187 calories burned. So while walking uses more fat for fuel, running is the superior calorie-burner, which can contribute to greater weight loss over time.
So what's the bottom line? Whether you walk or run, you really can't lose. Both exercises are widely acknowledged as being beneficial to your health, and with the right amount of effort, both will get you where you want to go in terms of your weight loss goals. The important thing is for you to put your body in motion, so whether you're hitting the pavement or beating the heat on the treadmill at the club - get moving!