Running or Walking: Which Is More Beneficial?

26 Jun

walking exercise beachIt’s been debated for years. Does running do more good for your body than walking?

That depends…

In a study published last month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers studied more than 45,000 runners and walkers enrolled in the National Runners and Walkers Health Study, an ongoing, large survey being conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.

Almost to the person, runners were thinner than when they joined the study, and were better able to maintain their waist size and body mass index than the walkers. In runners 55 and older, the research revealed something surprising: even though these older runners were expending about the same amount of calories per week as their walking counterparts, the runners’ BMI and waist circumference remained lower.

So for maintaining weight, there seems to be a clear winner. But…

In a study using the same survey data published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, runners who ran one hour a day had a 4.5 percent lower risk of high blood pressure, bad cholesterol profiles, diabetes and heart disease than their sedentary peers.  But walkers who expended the same amount of energy per day as the runners reduced their risk of heart disease by more than 9 percent when compared to those who were sedentary. Why this is so is a mystery to the researchers.

So if your goal is weight loss or weight maintenance, it appears you should be running. If you’re already blessed with a weight that falls within the normal range for your frame, you’ll probably do just as well with a good long walk a few times each week. But the important thing is to exercise on a regular basis, because whether running or walking, each had superior health profiles to those who were sedentary.

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