We all know that running and walking can significantly decrease our risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, improve mood and improve bone density and so on and so on, but which one should you be doing and why?

Here are 8 reasons you should consider walking over running

1. Running includes warm up and cool down.

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In order to decrease the risk of injury from running you should be warming up properly, wearing the correct attire, getting to your location to run, actually run and then you should be cooling down and stretching before you go home and shower. Your hour long run just turned into a 2 hour event.

With walking, you simply put on your shoes and walk out the door. No need for preparation, warm ups cool downs or showering. If you are stuck for time and want to get some cardio in, walking will work just fine.

2. Injury risks vs reward.

Running is a plyometric movement that is repetitive.

This chronic pounding can cause damage to joints for people that are overweight. So, if you are running for weight loss begin with walking until you get rid of some of those unwanted pounds before you begin running.

Also, make sure you are wearing the correct shoes for both and get your gait assessed by a local physical therapist, chiropractor or running specialist to make sure you reduce your risk of injury.

3. Heart health.

Moderate exercise (50-60% of your max heart rate) or walking can cause changes in the left ventricle that can increase the efficiency of the heart.

Your body can use more oxygen after moderate aerobic exercise, because it increases the maximum amount of blood your heart can pump in a minute (this is called maximal cardiac output).

Maximal cardiac output is how fast your heart can pump (heart rate) multiplied by how much blood your heart can push out to the rest of your body with each beat (stroke volume). Exercise doesn’t change your maximum heart rate but it can increase how much blood your heart can push with each beat.

Go on tell us more I hear you say….

The left ventricle is the part of the heart that is at the bottom with a thicker, more muscular wall that’s connected to the aorta.

The left ventricle is the part of the heart that is responsible for pumping blood to your entire body. Moderate aerobic exercise increases your stroke volume by increasing how much blood goes into your left ventricle and how hard your heart contracts.

But wait……..there’s more

Walking can also decrease you resting heart rate. That means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to get oxygen to the rest of your body meaning decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s a winner in my book.

4. Calories burned.

Yes running does help you expend more energy, but walking still expends a reasonable number of kilojoules based on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendation of at least 4184 kilojoules per week to help someone maintain a healthy body mass when running is not on the cards.

This is only to maintain however. In addition, the ACSM guidelines suggest 30 minutes on 5 days of the week of moderate intensity exercise for 150 minutes total or 20–25 minutes 3 or more days of the week of vigorous intensity exercise for a total of 75 minutes.

Based on the findings of this study, walking would expend 3475 kilojoules for 150 minutes a week and running would expend 4980 kilojoules for 75 minutes in a week.

Walking at the pace examined in this study falls short of the recommended value. However, adding a few more minutes walking each week or picking up the pace would easily meet the recommendations.

5. Fat loss.

benefits of walking_2

If you are running for fat loss, good luck. If you focus on excessive running you end up with destructive hormonal patterns that will lower your resting metabolic rate as well as inhibit hormone production for growth and repair.

This sets off an alarm in the body where the body sacrifices muscle tissue to lessen energy demands and stores body fat as a survival mechanism. Then, any weight you did lose will come right back plus 5 and the cycle begins again.

6. Negative effects on hormones.

When we run, cortisol is released which is fine, but when you run too much, cortisol can force the body to break down its own muscle tissue, convert it to glucose (gluconeogenesis), and use it as fuel.

It also leads to increased fat accumulation, especially around the midsection.

Yes, strength training has the same effect, but it also raises testosterone and growth hormone – potent muscle building/fat burning hormones that offset cortisol.

Walking does neither, but it does use fat as its main source of energy.

7. Efficiency.

The more you run, the more efficient your body becomes at running, so you have to run more to get the benefits.

If you are coupling strength training with long distance running, you are likely to lose the benefits of your strength training and muscle building. If you pair your strength training with walking the fat loss will increase. Plain and simple

8. Recovery time

Walking can increase your recovery time just as much as running in regard to increasing blood circulation and nutrient flow that helps rebuild muscle after strength training. Plus, you are less likely to be sore or get hurt walking. If you’re hurt you can’t train and the goal is to be able to train.

Conclusion

As a strength coach, I will always advocate strength training over running, especially for fat loss, but take the above points into consideration based on your goals.

If running is a must for you, make sure you include short (40 to 100 mtrs) and mid distance (200 to 440 mtrs) sprints to go along with your longer distance runs.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me and send this to your running friends just to annoy them.

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