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Walking vs. Running: Which Is Better?

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Walking and running are two of the most popular forms of exercise in the US among people aged 15 and older, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s probably because they’re both relatively accessible activities; unless a physical ailment prevents you from being able to do so, many individuals are able to walk, and many can lace up a pair of shoes and hit the pavement running.

So of these two popular exercise forms, which is better for you, walking or running? Understanding a bit more about these disciplines will help with this answer.

Benefits of Walking

According to the American Heart Association, every hour of quick-paced walking can increase the life expectancy of some people by two hours by improving blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, and boosting bone strength. Another benefit: walking can help prevent weight gain, too. In just one hour, a 160-pound person walking 3.5 miles per hour can burn about 314 calories, simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Walking can increase your energy and stamina, too, and help you sleep better, so everyone can benefit from it.

Benefits of Running

While most abled people have access to running, it is a more strenuous and therefore harder physical activity (though many still love it). In one hour, a 160-pound person can burn upwards of 600 calories running at a 5-mile-an-hour pace. That’s almost double what you burn walking in the same amount of time. Research shows that running even just five to 10 minutes a day can extend a person’s life, and running 50 minutes a week can lower the chance of death from cardiovascular disease.

Running can also help boost your mood and your weight loss.

Which Is Better: Walking or Running?

So which of these cardiovascular exercises is more beneficial? It’s honestly hard to say, and the answer really lies in what you’re looking to get out of exercise.

If you want to lose weight, running, because it requires individuals to expend more energy, is more beneficial. A small study in the Journal of Obesity also found that runners had less of an appetite and consumed fewer calories post-exercise than walkers did, which can also help with weight loss.

But if losing weight isn’t your goal, you can stick with walking as it has the same if not possibly more benefits. How so? A study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology found that while runners had a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease than those who were sedentary, walkers experienced the same benefits. And in fact, walkers reduced their risk of heart disease by 9 percent, while runners only reduced it by 4.5 percent!

So what’s the takeaway? If you’re looking to lose weight, or you just enjoy running, running may be more beneficial. But if you just want to be healthy, you can stick to walking.

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