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Is it Better to Walk or Run? Researchers Answer That Question

By HERWriter
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researchers' views on whether walking or running is better Scott Griessel - Creatista/PhotoSpin

Should you walk or should you run? What is better for you in terms of caloric expenditure, weight loss, cardiovascular fitness and overall health?

According to an article on NBC’s Today’s Health website, “Walking really is just as good for you as running – but only if you compare it in terms of calories burned and not merely on time spent.” The recent study was published in the American Heart Association Journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Researchers on both coasts followed dedicated runners and walkers for six years. The study comprised participants already taking part in the National Runners’ Health Study and National Walkers’ Health Study.

More than 30,000 runners and 15,000 walkers were measured for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol at the commencement of the study and then again at the end of six years.

In an interview with NBC News, researcher Paul Williams of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said, “It takes longer to walk a mile than to run a mile, but if you match them up on the energy expended, they are comparable. If you do the same amount of exercise – if you expend the same number of calories – you get the same benefit.”

However, you also need to take into consideration your own body's ability and whether or not you have injuries. If you should have contraindications for running, it is obviously better to walk. If you are overweight or obese, the impact on the body when running could make you more prone to injuries.

You should also check with your doctor about your cardiovascular health to see what is appropriate for you.

My suggestion would be to start slow until you lose some of the weight, then upgrade to a jog and then to a run. But, according to the Mayo Clinic, you do not have to do more than walk to keep your heart healthy. “Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.”

In another article on NBC News, the benefits of long, slow walks over running was studied. The Norwegian study released earlier this year was conducted at Maastricht University.

"Man was meant to walk – and to walk a lot,” said Dr. Karol Watson. “That doesn’t mean marathons, but rather to move around a lot.”

Watson is an associate professor of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-director of the UCLA Center for Cholesterol and Lipid Management. Watson was not affiliated with the study.

Whether you like to walk or you like to run, the important thing is to get off the couch, out of the office chair, and DO SOMETHING!


“Long, slow walks may beat shorter, higher intensity runs – By: Maggie Fox TodaysHealth.Today.com” NBC News. Web. 16 April 2013.

Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health – MayoClinic.com. The Mayo Clinic. Web. 16 April 2013.

“Brisk walk really may be just as good as a run, study finds TodaysHealth.Today.com – By: Linda Carrol” NBC News. Web. 16 April 2013.

Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training.

Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com/ She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband and son, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.

Reviewed April 17, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment1 Comments

Running an hour every day burns more calories than walking, so, in theory, running is the better exercise for weight loss.

April 24, 2013 - 4:27am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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