Whether you walk or run for fitness, there’s minimal difference between the two in health benefits. Both walking and running will reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes risk a new study finds.
The research that touts the findings that walking and running are equal when it comes to heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular disease collected data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study. More than 33,000 runners and 16,000 walkers were involved. The median age range for the walkers and runners was 40 to 60 years of age.
Over a six year period of time both activities led to similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Here’s what the study found:
- Running reduced the risk of high blood pressure 4.2 percent; walking 7.2 percent.
- Running reduced the risk for high cholesterol 4.3 percent; walking 7 percent.
- Running lowered the risk for diabetes 12.1 percent; walking 12.3 percent.
- Running decreased the risk of heart disease 4.5 percent; walking 9.3 percent
Paul Williams, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley points out that both running and walking reduce risk factors but it’s a matter of how far you walk or run, not how long. The more people walked or ran each week the more their health improved.
Williams also says that to reap the benefits, walkers must keep a brisk pace. Walking for exercise isn’t a “mosey type of thing.”
While both walking and running are equally effective to reduce cardiovascular disease risks, running is the superior activity for people that want to lose weight.
Running Is Better For Weight Loss
In another study Paul Williams evaluated body mass index (BMI) of more than 32,000 runners and 15,000 walkers. Participants supplied weight and height history for the preceding five years, along with their waist size and details about their workouts including distance, pace, frequency and any other exercise they did.
The walkers were, on average, older than the runners by about 12 years for both men and women. The runners also had lower BMI. The average male runner’s BMI was 24 and the women’s was 22. The average male walker’s BMI was 27 where the women’s was 25.
After a six year follow-up, both groups lost weight but the male runners and female runners with higher BMIs had the best results. Williams says that “an overweight woman of average height and BMI over 28 might expect to lose 19 pounds by adding a 3.2 mile run to her daily routine, but only 9 pounds by expending the same amount of energy by walking.”
Plus, Williams points out, it takes less time to produce the same amount of effort running and vigorous exercise vigorous like running increases your metabolic rate and it remains elevated after the exercise.
Pick Up The Pace
The health benefits of brisk walking might not be enough if you’re a walker that’s trying to lose weight. For higher calorie expenditure try picking up your pace and add some running intervals to your walking program. If you feel you’re not ready to take on running all at once, adopt a Couch to 5K program that’s designed to move you from walking to running over a period of a few weeks.
Spending more time running and less time walking will increase your calorie burn and get you to your weight-loss goals quicker.
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