Walking vs. Running
Walking, the activity we tend to not give a second thought in terms of how it positively affects our health, is beneficial in many ways you may not realise. It's human nature to walk for the purpose of moving from one place to the next but incorporating walking for exercise is far more worthwhile than most realise.
While running tends to get most of the positive attention, not only is walking great simply for getting in motion, it’s also an activity chock full of health benefits. From cardiovascular health, weight management, to mood-boosting and so much more.
Read on to learn how running and walking compare, and decide which exercise is right for you based on your current goals or fitness level.
Walk Your Way to Well-Being
One great reason to turn to walking is for the reduction of cortisol levels. Scientists have found these stress hormones are greatly reduced after just a 20 minute walk, resulting in a better mood and positive outlook.
This differs from going for a run which temporarily increases cortisol levels as your body thinks you’re in a moment of stress. However, over time the rise in stress levels will start to decrease and gradually your ability to deal with daily stressors will improve.
In addition to lower stress levels you’ll experience a boost in endorphins which provide tremendous emotional and mood benefits. It’s not just running responsible for that euphoric “runner’s high” - a brisk walk releases these feel-good chemicals as well.
Endorphins are responsible for reducing pain and triggering that positive feeling in your body. The impact can go as far as lowering moderate depression and anxiety plus boosting self-esteem.
Whether choosing to walk or run, incorporating either on a regular basis will provide rewarding effects for well-being in the long term. If you’re just starting out and want to add running to your routine, start with short intervals at a jog and working up to a run. Taking breaks to walk every 30 seconds. Before you know it you’ll feel ready to run for an extended period of time.
When it comes to your heart health, both walking and running are equally excellent for lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Brisk walking has proven to provide these benefits slightly more than expending the same amount of energy during other more vigorous activities like running.
Incorporating walking or running into your routine is great for cardiovascular endurance which is an indicator of how strong your heart is along with your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to muscles while they’re working. Efficiency in this can potentially add years to your life.
By challenging your heart to pump stronger and faster you’re helping to make it fitter. Your heart is a muscle in need of strengthening just like any other. The cardiac muscle sees the greatest good from cardio exercise - which it’s so aptly named after. Aim for at least 150 minutes (just over 20 minutes a day) of moderate cardio exercises each week to reap these health benefits.
One of the biggest differences when weighing walking vs. running is calorie burn. So just how big is the difference and how many calories can you burn? Because running is a more intense form of exercise it inherently burns more calories per minute - potentially over two times as many!
While it varies from person to person based on weight and height, calories burned running for an hour can be upwards of 400 and a walk can burn around 200. Don’t let that discourage you - the lower intensity of walking actually means a higher percentage of calories burned come from fat. But the intensity of running can pay off even after you stop with the afterburn effect.
In addition to a higher level of calorie burn, running also does a better job of helping to control appetite. So if weight loss is your goal, running will be the quicker route to take but walking will certainly assist in shedding pounds and maintaining a healthy weight as well.
Regardless, be sure not to focus strictly on the lower number of calories burned walking because in the end, it’s about so much more.
Impact to Joints
A common misconception about running is that the high-impact nature makes it harder on your body than walking which is known for being low-impact. Running really isn’t as bad for knees as most seem to think it is. Cartilage can actually improve and strengthen with running. Risk for pain is primarily present if a person is predisposed to arthritis or if joint pain is already existing.
Although running has a reputation for the ailment of runner’s knee it’s important to keep in mind that weak or imbalanced muscles and poor form are the primary causes. Investing in supportive footwear to properly protect and cushion your joints from the repetitive impact will greatly help. See a Running Expert who can assess your foot type and provide gait analysis to identify the best shoe for you.
If you’ve suffered from pain in the past walking may be the best route to take as it’s been shown to ease joint pain. The motion of walking protects by lubricating joints and strengthening the surrounding supportive muscles. Studies have also shown that walking eases pain associated with arthritis and can even prevent it from forming in the first place.
One way of easing the impact and gaining even more of the benefits is to set out on a softer surface. Avoiding concrete and instead seeking out rubberised tracks, grass, trails, or sand will offer less of an impact and more of a challenge by making muscles work harder.
Enjoy the Benefits of Walking or Running
Improving fitness and looking great need not be difficult - and it isn’t if you take up a new routine of regularly walking or running. Both are simple, highly rewarding ways to keep fit - and the best bit is they’re free and you can do them virtually anywhere. They don’t require a gym membership, are sociable, flexible and work - fast!
A fitter, stronger body, the feel good factor that exercise brings, and a more alert mind are just a few strides away. Be on your way to feeling fit and healthier with 30 minutes of walking at a brisk pace daily or running for even just 15 minutes. Finding the time to fit regular walking or running into your schedule, no matter how busy or hectic life may be, is guaranteed to be one of the most rewarding uses of your time.
Try leaving the car at home when you go to the shops, or walk rather than take the train or bus to work. If the weather isn’t working in your favour, hop on the treadmill. Do a lap around the park in the morning when you’ve dropped the kids off at school or walk the dog. There are loads of ways to make either a regular part of your schedule. And with ASICS innovative walking and running shoe range, cushioning you every step of the way – there’s nothing stopping you on your way to fitness.
Shop the ASICS range of women’s walking shoes and men’s walking shoes or lace up a new pair of running shoes to put your best foot forward.
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