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Walking vs. running

Turns out both are equally good for your health.

By Sally Wadyka Apr 5, 2013 8:30PM
I’ve been a runner for years. And nothing beats the feeling I get when I go for a run -- especially on one of the beautiful trails I’m lucky to live near. And I will admit that back in my more ambitious running days (when I trained for and ran several marathons), I had a slightly snobbish attitude about my sport. Running was obviously real exercise. But walking? That was something for old ladies and the extremely out of shape.

Well, apparently, it’s time to rethink my snobbery, because the latest news is that walking is actually as good -- if not better -- for your health than running. 

A new study looked at data on 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers (ranging in age from 18 to 80), calculating their energy expenditures, and looking at their health problems over a period of six year. What the researchers found is that, while the runners lowered their risk of heart disease by 4.5 percent, the walkers lowered theirs by a surprising 9.3 percent. Similar statistics emerged when it came to risk of high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes -- with the walkers surpassing the runners on all of these health markers.

But before you trade your running workouts for a leisurely stroll around the block, there is a catch. To reap these sorts of health benefits, walkers have to expend as much energy as runners. In other words, a leisurely stroll isn’t going to cut it.

You’ve got to move briskly during your walk, and probably you’ll need to be out there for longer than you planned. The researchers estimate that it would take about twice as long to expend the same amount of calories walking as running. So instead of a 3-mile jog that has you outside or on the treadmill for 30 minutes, give or take, you’d need to walk 4.3 miles -- which could take over an hour.

So while this study offers some good news to those whose joints just can’t stand the idea of running, it’s also further proof that there is no health magic bullet. You’ve got to work for those benefits -- whether you do it at a running or walking pace.

Personally, not only do I love running, I simply don’t have time to double the duration of my workouts!
I walk with my husband every day. We usually walk for a 1 1/2 hours each time. We also walk up and down stairs, up hill and down. He is pre-diabetic so walking is really good exercise not only for him but it's good to keep the calorie count down. We aren't young. We're in our 70's. At least I can get him to walk every day. Rain, snow, cold or hot we walk.
Apr 6, 2013 9:07AM
Runners HAVE to have much greater deterioration of their joints over time than walkers.  That constant pounding, whether it be on concrete or track surfaces or grass, over long periods of time really takes its toll on a body.
Apr 6, 2013 8:25AM

Was the relative fitness of the subjects compared?


I ask this because as an out of shape asthmatic who can walk but would feel like he was dying running, it occurs to me that people who can run regularly already have to be in at least SEMI decent shape. Could it be that the correlation between walking and the higher reduction in disease probability stems from the walkers having more initial risk than the runners, and that the runners' lower risk reduction could stem from them having less initial risk since they're already in shape enough to run?


Just a thought. I'm not saying that's the case, just asking.

Apr 6, 2013 11:22AM
Runners eventually will have ankle, knee, hip soreness,  then you start walking and doing a strength training circuit at the gym and guess what you feel better and better as you get older and older ! Older is wiser, that's life, no one told me, I had to find out on my own !
Apr 6, 2013 12:05PM
I walk in the winter and ride a bike in the summer. the bike is easy on the joints and the benefits are greater than running
Apr 6, 2013 11:47AM
After running for the last 41 years the best health improvement I learned was that I did not have to eat meat three times a day (with every meal)! I now only eat either fish, chicken or beef four times per week. There was a time in my life when a meatless meal was not a meal. Peanut butter Rocks and plain baked potato's are really good once you get used to them!
Apr 6, 2013 10:09AM
So, if you make your heart work harder ,, its better than if you make it work not as hard. Extremely interesting,,, complicated yes,,, but I believe I can grasp it. 
Apr 6, 2013 12:23PM

So when you were young that is how you thought of Old people/ your Elders.

That they should die.  Who said young people are Selfish ? I believe you're

having a depressed day. Don't be hard on yourself and negative.  Aging occurs

with everyone. Soon they'll be old too. Please define OLD. It varies with people.

Some say 40 others say 65 then there is 90.  It is still typical many people don't live beyond

75 to 80 indicating you're at mid-life by age 40 and becoming 70 places you near the

end of your life cycle. We definitely hope not. It depends on what a person does in their life and the family genetics in hope we life a long life beyond 80.

 No one is asking you to give up and die.  I don't know you, but I ask you to give some Faith.

Yes! there are cruel people in the world. Most people are really nice.

 I LOVE YOU and others should care and love you too.

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