Running vs Walking:
Which is the Better Exercise for You?

Running vs walking – which is the better exercise?

Both forms of exercise have pros and cons and the answer is different for every person. If you enjoy walking, don't worry, you don't have to give it up to enjoy a healthy lifestyle!

As you'll see from the research below, you can still enjoy all the health benefits and burn a lot of calories from walking.

running vs walking and your health

You often hear that running is better for you but new research shows that you can reduce your risk of certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol with brisk walking just as much as you can running (as reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology)

In 2013, results of the National Walkers' Health Study and the National Runners' Health Study were compared and it was found that both walkers and runners saw a reduced risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and coronary artery disease as long as they used the same amount of energy.

This means that you would nee d to walk longer than a runner but you can still get the same benefits as the runners. (See this article for more information).

To determine which exercise is best for you, consider your fitness goal, your physical condition and your preference.

Which exercise burns more calories?

You will burn more calories running for a half hour vs walking for a half hour. For example, a 150 pound person who jogs for a half hour will burn about 238 calories while the same person will only burn about 175 calories walking at a very brisk pace (4 miles per hour) for a half hour.

However, you will burn more calories if you walk a mile vs running a mile. Why? Because it takes longer to walk a mile than run it.

The potential trouble with walking is that it is easy to slip into a slower stroll and then the cardio benefits are lost because your heart rate is no longer elevated.

Consider using a heart rate monitor while walking to ensure that you stay within your target heart rate zone.

What is your fitness goal?

If your fitness goal is to lose weight, which requires burning as many calories as possible, then running or jogging is a better option for quicker weight loss.

You can certainly lose weight by walking, but you’ll need to walk about 60 minutes a day, five days a week. Therefore, you can lose weight quicker with running vs walking.

If you choose running or jogging to meet your weight loss goal, don’t stop once you’ve met your goal! Many people often stop exercising after they’ve lost the weight and it is critical to exercise frequently and consistently.

Consistent physical activity has long-term health benefits. It is better to chose an exercise that you will do consistently throughout your life instead of running for a short period of time just to lose weight.

What is your physical condition?

The greater the intensity of your exercise, the greater the chance of injuring yourself. So you will have a greater chance of injuries, such as knee pain, shin splints or back pain when you jog.

Walking, however, is a lower intensity activity that is gentler on your joints and muscles. Research has shown that walkers sustain fewer injuries than runners over long periods of time.

This is why your physical condition plays an important part in determining whether running vs walking is better for you. If you have knee or back problems, then opt for walking.

What is your preference?

Many people have a strong preference for running or walking. Remember that the one you like the best is the one you should do! Don’t choose running if you love walking because you're less likely to stick to it. Choose the one your most passionate about. Passion for your chosen form of exercise is the key to fitness and weight loss.

Mix it Up!

You can certainly alternate running and walking if you enjoy both and want to experience the benefits of both. If you’re short on time, then choose to jog because you’ll burn more calories. If you have extra time, choose to go for an enjoyable walk. You’ll reduce your risk of running injuries if you alternate between the two activities.

Incorporating intervals into your walks is also a great way to boost your calorie burning potential. Break your walk into 5-minute intervals and walk for 3 minutes, then jog for two minutes. This will keep your walks challenging and fresh. Click here to learn more about interval walking and get some workout plans that you can use right away.

Return from Running vs Walking for Exercise

Return to The-Fitness-Walking-Guide Home Page

Search The Fitness Walking Guide using the Google search box below:

Follow me on Facebook for the latest news on fitness walking, walking shoes, health and weight loss. Become a part of our supportive walking community.

Recommended Articles:

  • Try interval walking to incorporate both walking and running into your exercise routine. Interval training is one of the most effective ways to burn more calories. 
  • Find some great walking music playlists to match your pace and keep you pumped up.