It seems like common sense that if you want to lose weight and be healthy, running is a quicker way to get there than walking. However, as the New York Times points out, in some cases, walking provides a lot of the same benefits without the difficulty.
Both running and walking have their own set of health benefits, and each come with its own set of quirks. For instance, running is better for weight management, because you're burning more calories, and runners tend to control their weight better over time. However, walking provides equal health benefits to running in a few key ways:
New science shows that walking can be at least as valuable as running — and in some instances, more so. A study published this month that again plumbed data from the Runners and Walkers Health Study found that both runners and walkers had equally diminished risks of developing age-related cataracts compared to sedentary people, an unexpected but excellent benefit of exercise.
And in perhaps the most comforting of the new studies, published last month in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and again using numbers from the versatile Runners and Walkers Health Study, runners had far less risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol profiles, diabetes and heart disease than their sedentary peers. But the walkers were doing even better. Runners, for instance, reduced their risk of heart disease by about 4.5 per cent if they ran an hour a day. Walkers who expended the same amount of energy per day reduced their risk of heart disease by more than 9 per cent.
Of course, few walkers match the energy expenditure of runners. “It’s fair to say that, if you plan to expend the same energy walking as running, you have to walk about one and a half times as far and that it takes about twice as long,” said Paul T. Williams, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories...
A lot of other things factor in here. For one, people who tend to start walking are often more unhealthy than runners so their starting baseline is a bit lower. You also have to walk about twice as long to expend the same amount of energy as if you run.
Still, the takeaway, that either walking or running is healthier than not doing either, is worth considering. Head over to the New York Times for all the details.
For added health benefits, try walking like this (no, not really):
Is It Better to Walk or Run? [New York Times]