Many people run to reduce stress, boost energy levels, improve heart health, better your mood, and lose weight. But depending on what your personal goals are, running and walking both have their benefits.
Research suggests that running may be best for weight loss1. People that run expend 2.5 times more energy versus walking whether that’s at the beach or on a treadmill2. For example, a 160-pound person running 8 mph would burn over 800 calories per hour compared to about 300 calories walking at 3.5 mph.
A study found that runners lost more weight when equal amounts of energy were expended (meaning walkers spent more time exercising)1. Not only did the runners begin with lower weights than the walkers, but they also had a better chance of maintaining their BMI and waist circumference.
Another benefit to running is that it can help regulate appetite hormones. One study suggests that people who walk eat more food than runners after working out3. Participants in the study were invited to an all-you-can-eat buffet. People who walked consumed about 50 calories more than they had burned and runners ate almost 200 calories fewer than they’d burned after exercising. Researchers think this may have to do with runners’ increased levels of the hormone peptide YY, which may suppress appetite.
Aside from losing weight, walking has a ton of benefits. Regardless of whether you run or walk, the National Runners Health Study found that people who expended the same amount of calories saw many of the same health benefits4. Both saw a reduced risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and improved better cardiovascular health.
Running also puts more stress on your body and increases the risk for injuries like runner’s knee, hamstring strains, and shin splints.
If you are not able to run, health experts suggest carrying weights while you walk. Research shows that walking on the treadmill while wearing a weighted vest can increase metabolic costs and relative exercise intensity5.
You can also try increasing the incline of your treadmill or walking up a hill. According to one study, walking at a slow speed (1.7 mph) on a treadmill at a six-degree incline can help obese individuals manage their weight and help reduce the risk of injury to lower extremity joints6.
An interesting study found speed walkers had a decreased risk of mortality over their slower counterparts7.
Whether you choose to run or walk, each can have a great impact on your health. Listen to your body and do whatever you feel is best. Also, make sure to take a multivitamin daily to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to perform at its best.
1. Greater weight loss from running than walking during a 6.2-yr prospective follow-up, 2013 Apr;45(4):706-13. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31827b0d0a
2. Energy expenditure of walking and running: comparison with prediction equations, 2004 Dec;36(12):2128-34
3. Influence of running and walking on hormonal regulators of appetite in women, 2012;2012:730409. doi: 10.1155/2012/730409. Epub 2012 Apr 29
4. Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction, 2013 May;33(5):1085-91. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300878. Epub 2013 Apr 4
5. The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces, 2006 Apr;38(4):746-52
6. Energetics and biomechanics of inclined treadmill walking in obese adults, 2011 Jul;43(7):1251-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182098a6c
7. The relationship of walking intensity to total and cause-specific mortality. Results from the National Walkers’ Health Study, 2013 Nov 19;8(11):e81098. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081098. eCollection 2013