Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to get in shape? For most people, all it takes is lacing up a pair of shoes and heading out the door. But once you're out there, should you walk or run? Weighing the pros and cons of walking vs running depends on your lifestyle, physical ability, and fitness goals.
If you’re exercising to lose weight, you’ll want to pay attention to how many calories each activity burns.
- Running is more demanding on the body, and burns more calories per minute than walking.
- You can still burn a significant number of calories walking, but you’ll need to walk for longer to achieve similar results.
- The exact number of calories spent during each activity depends on age, gender, height, weight, and pace. Use a fitness tracker or app to determine exactly how many calories you burn running or walking.
Looking for an exercise that will help you burn more calories and eat less? Most physical activity seems to reduce levels of an appetite-stimulating hormone called ghrelin. But these effects may only last for a short time.
Vigorous aerobic activity like running also increases peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses hunger. In a study that offered food to subjects after they walked or ran, the runners consumed fewer calories than they burned during exercise, while the walkers ate more.
Risk of Injury
The calorie-burning benefits of running come with a much greater risk of injury compared to walking.
- Stress fractures, pulled muscles and plantar fasciitis are some of the most common injuries runners encounter.
- Injury is especially common among new runners who enthusiastically overtrain.
- Experienced runners are less prone to injury, but walking is still a much safer way to expend energy.
The best exercise is whatever you’re most likely to stick with. For many people, a regular walking habit is one of the easiest to maintain. Walking for transportation, during breaks at work, or as a social activity with friends provides health benefits without leaving you sore or drenched in sweat.
If you’ve recently started running, try these tips to turn the exercise into a regular habit:
- Start slow to reduce the likelihood of injury.
- Join a running club or start an informal one.
- Sign up for a short charity run to provide motivation.
- Keep a running log so you can track progress and celebrate milestones.
Step up your walking
Looking to boost your walks to burn more calories and improve your fitness?
- Adding weight to your walk may seem like an obvious next step. But wrist and ankle weights place unnatural stress on joints, causing repetitive motion injury.
- Weighted vests are considered less likely to cause injury, but most physical therapists and trainers still don’t recommend them.
- Instead, try increasing the intensity by walking longer, faster, or on an incline.
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