Which is better for losing weight: walking or running? Today I’ll dive into the answer based on years of fitness competitions that led me to test both methods for fat loss.
Running is a more intense exercise that burns more calories in less time, making it better for weight loss. However, not everyone can easily run or may not enjoy it. In such cases, walking can also be effective for weight loss. Remember, regardless of whether you choose to run or walk, your diet plays the most crucial role in a successful weight loss journey.
To avoid losing too much lean muscle while trying to lose weight, it’s important to incorporate interval training into your routine as well.
Benefits of Cardio Exercise Made Easy to Understand
Doing cardio exercise is good for losing weight and has many positive effects on your overall health and well-being. Here are some of the benefits:
1. Lowers blood pressure
Cardio exercise has been proven to reduce blood pressure in healthy individuals and those diagnosed with high blood pressure.
2. Increases “good” cholesterol
Aerobic exercise can raise HDL cholesterol levels, known as the “good” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your body by taking them to the liver.
3. Improves sleep quality
Regular aerobic exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, according to a study. People with insomnia experienced similar health benefits after following an aerobic exercise routine for 16 weeks. They also reported feeling less tired during the day.
4. Enhances mood and reduces depression
Research conducted in Korea found that exercising for 5 hours per week can boost self-esteem and alleviate symptoms of depression. Other studies have also shown that exercise positively impacts reducing depression symptoms, particularly in women.
5. Boosts memory and brain health
Some studies suggest that aerobic exercise can increase the size of the brain region responsible for learning and memory. This makes it a valuable tool in preventing conditions like dementia and maintaining cognitive function.
Cardio exercise has numerous health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, enhancing sleep quality, boosting mood, and promoting brain health. Incorporating regular cardio workouts into your routine can contribute to a healthier and happier life.
Differences between Walking versus Running
Here are four important differences between walking and running that can help you decide which physical activity is better for your healthy weight loss goals:
Running burns more calories
Running burns more calories compared to walking and running. The number of calories burned depends on your body weight and the intensity of the high-impact exercise. On average, a person weighing 160 pounds burns about 606 calories per hour while running at a pace of 5 mph. In contrast, walking at a pace of 3.5 mph burns only about 314 calories per hour.
Walking is a lower impact
Walking is a lower-impact activity compared to running. When you run, a lot of stress is placed on your feet and joints. Each stride in running results in your body absorbing almost three times its own weight.
However, when you walk, your feet don’t hit the ground with the same amount of force as they do when you run, which means your joints experience less impact. This makes walking a better choice for people with injuries, the elderly, overweight individuals, beginners to exercise, and those who want to reduce stress on their legs while weightlifting.
Walking has a reduced risk of injury
Running can lead to various overuse injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures, muscle strains, and knee pain.
On the other hand, walking is less likely to cause such injuries because it puts less stress on your joints. It’s worth noting that most running injuries occur due to sudden increases in distance per week or a history of previous injuries.
However, it’s important to be mindful that incline walking can cause similar injuries if you overdo it. Nonetheless, studies have shown that men and women are less likely to get injured from a walking workout than from running.
Running is less likely to cause arthritis
Surprisingly, research suggests that runners are less likely to develop arthritis compared to those who walk. A review of 25 studies involving over 125,000 participants found that only 3.5% of recreational runners developed arthritis in the hips and/or knees, whereas 10.2% of sedentary individuals developed arthritis.
Competitive runners who run more than 25-30 miles per week have a higher risk of arthritis. However, based on the studies reviewed, running 25 miles or less per week can protect against hip and knee arthritis.
Understanding these differences between walking and running can help you decide which physical activity is better suited for your body weight loss goals.
Both Walking and Running Offer the Same Benefits and a Great Form of Exercise Program
Both running and walking are excellent forms of exercise that offer various health benefits. It also helps you burn calories.
Researchers studied a large group of individuals, consisting of 33,060 runners and 15,945 walkers, and discovered that both activities could help with diabetes mellitus risk reduction, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Interestingly, the researchers measured exercise based on time spent rather than distance covered.
While running is a more intense activity, walking is less demanding on the body. This means that to attain similar benefits, you would need to walk longer or more frequently than running. Running is considered more efficient in terms of burning more calories, but it carries a higher risk of injuries. If you get injured while running, it may take longer for your body to recover.
The most important thing is to engage in the type of exercise that you genuinely enjoy and will stick to. Whether you prefer running, walking, or even a combination of both, choose the option that appeals to you the most. Ultimately, the best exercise for you is the one that you will actually do consistently.
How Much Should I Be Walking or Running Per Week for Weight Loss?
If you’re aiming to lose weight through walking or running, here’s a simple guideline to help you out.
Walking is a great option for weight loss and burning more calories, especially if you’re new to exercising or recovering from an injury. Aiming to have a walking routine at least five to six times a week is recommended. Walking is an activity that can burn calories and raise your heart rate without putting too much strain on your body. This means you can do it more frequently and for longer durations.
On the other hand, running requires a different approach. Running three to four times a week is advisable if you choose a running routine as your exercise. It’s important to schedule rest days and incorporate cross-training sessions between those running days. Running puts more stress on your body, leading to quicker fatigue.
Monitoring your heart rate is a helpful indicator to determine your pace for walking or running. Your heart rate gives you insight into how long you can sustain your current effort. If you’re walking or running at a brisk pace, you’ll be able to go for a longer period.
Keep an eye on your heart rate and observe when it’s time to push yourself a little harder. If walking no longer elevates your heart rate into the cardio zone and you’re in good health, it may be a sign that you’re ready to introduce short bouts of jogging.
By paying attention to your heart rate and gradually increasing your intensity, you can find the right balance for your weight loss goals. Remember to listen to your body; if you have any concerns, consult a healthcare professional.
In conclusion, when it comes to weight loss, running is generally more effective than walking because it burns calories at a faster rate and has been shown to target belly fat specifically.
However, both walking and running offer numerous health benefits beyond weight loss. They can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and decrease the risk of various diseases. Walking can also contribute to weight loss when combined with a calorie deficit.
It’s important to note that if you don’t enjoy running or have physical limitations preventing you from doing so, you can still achieve your weight loss goals by consuming fewer calories than you expend.
Remember, the key to successful weight loss is finding an exercise routine you enjoy and can sustain long-term while maintaining a healthy diet and mental health.