The Benefits and Risks of Walking Versus Running
Your coworker swears by her morning runs. Your neighbor says she gets all the exercise she needs from walking. This may leave you wondering whether one is better than the other. The answer depends on which one you prefer. Both provide many health benefits, such as:
- Lower blood pressure
- Better cholesterol levels
- Increased cardiac endurance
- Stronger bones
- Increased muscle mass
- Weight loss or maintenance
The key is finding out which activity is best for you.
Many people choose activities based on the number of calories that they burn. The number of calories you burn while running or walking will depend on your weight, how long you exercise, and your intensity. You will burn more calories the faster you are moving. This gives running the edge of walking when it comes to calorie burning.
Risk of Injury
There is a lower risk of injury with walking than with running. The risk of injury increases with intensity and duration.
You can lower your risk of running-related injury by:
- Wearing a running shoe that gives you stability and cushioning
- Wearing shoes that fit you correctly
- Replacing worn running shoes every 9 to 12 months
- Running on smooth, even surfaces that are soft
Fitting It Into Your Day
Most people can fit a walk in during the day. You also won't need any special clothing other than good shoes. Running requires proper footwear, a complete change of clothes, and a post-workout shower. It may make sense to schedule a run over one block of free time during the day.
When Walking is the Better Choice
People who are new to exercise may want to start walking before they move onto running. Walking is also better for people with certain health problems or those who have joint replacements.
Getting a Complete Workout
Try adding strengthening and stretching exercises to get the most out of the workout you choose. Strength training the upper body and torso is important since they do not get much of a workout during regular running or walking. Strength training your lower body is also important because it will boost your walks and runs. Regular stretching will also help loosen up your muscles.
The Choice That’s Best for You
Choose the activity that you think you would enjoy the most. Mixing them up is also a great way to add variety to your workout. Next, talk to your doctor before you hit the road.
American College of Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
Energy expenditure in different modes of exercise. University of Massachusetts website. Available at: https://blogs.umass.edu/bodyshop/files/2009/07/energyexpendindifferentexmodes.pdf. Accessed October 12, 2021.
Tips for a safe running program. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/tips-for-a-safe-running-program. Accessed October 12, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 10/12/2021