Is Walking Better Than Running?
Tough question. Running versus walking. No, really. I had to research quite a bit for this one. Somewhere between hating super-sweaty workouts to wanting to absorb more of nature when I work out, the answer I want is very clear to me. For years now, I have observed people who take up running as their cardio workout completely dismiss walking as an effective workout. You can almost see where they come from. On the surface, the super-high heart rate, the tonnes of sweating and soaking your tank tops, and the rush of endorphins - it's everything. Moreover, running just feels like a proper workout making walking seem like it's just not enough. Given all this, is it possible? Is walking better than running? Let's solve the walking vs running debate now.
The honest answer is - there is no yes or no. Both walking and running are excellent forms of aerobic exercises that do great for your cardiovascular system. Pitching one against another does not make sense given they each bring numerous benefits to the table. But also, they have their own set of cons as well. How do you decide then? Let me list out the advantages and disadvantages of walking and running, so you can make an informed decision on which one is better for you.
Firstly, why are cardiovascular (cardio) exercises important?
Before pitching the benefits of walking vs running, let's appreciate cardio for all it's goodness. Cardio is great for your overall fitness and general good health. Everyone needs to incorporate some level of cardio/aerobic activity in their lives for maintaining and achieving optimal health. Having your heart rate up is necessary - be it following eye contact with a handsome stranger or jumping jacks. The following is a list of different health benefits of any cardio exercise:
- Improves your cardiovascular endurance
- Helps burn calories/weight management
- Reduced risk of lifestyle diseases: PCOD, Diabetes, etc
- Reduced risk of stroke, heart attack, etc
- Improves your mood and reduces stress levels
- Helps improve your metabolic functions
- Overall better mental & physical health
- Improved energy levels
Walking as an exercise: the pros and cons
Walking is a super-effective cardio exercise that you can customize to build or reduce intensity. In other words, everything from a light stroll to power-walking with weights count as workouts, but the effectiveness varies. Slow walking might not give you as much exercise as incline walking would. That being said, walking at any pace offers you the following benefits:
1. Improved cardiovascular health
Walking is a great way to get your heart rate up and improve your overall cardiovascular health. Regular walking can help to reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rate, all of which can reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.
2. Weight management
Walking is a great exercise for burning calories and managing your weight. It can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk for obesity and related diseases. You can switch intensities to increase your calories burns.
3. Increased strength and flexibility
Regular brisk walking may help to build muscle and improve your overall strength and flexibility. This can help you perform everyday tasks with greater ease and reduce your risk of injury.
4. Improved mood & reduced stress
Walking can help to reduce stress and improve your mood. It can also be a great way to clear your head and relax after a long day. Just take that stroll and watch how everything becomes just slightly better.
5. Increased and improved sleep
Regular walking is bound to help regulate your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the internal body clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and other daily activities. As a result of regular, frequent exercise, you can expect to improve the quality of your sleep as well as the duration.
6. Improved posture
Regular walking helps improve your posture, simply because you get better at standing tall and walking it off. It also helps you feel more confident in your stride. You can take up power walking, speed walking, etc and still improve your confidence.
7. It's for everyone
Walking is a low to mid-impact activity. People who have health or wellness issues that prevent them from indulging in high-impact activities can take it up comfortably. Walking does the job of giving your heart a decent workout even if it is not full on HIIT.
8. It's a social experience
Unlike running, walking is a way more social experience. You meet people along the way and connect with them as you boost that step count.
Well, there are a couple.
- You may take significantly longer to achieve your fitness goals if you undertook walking instead of running.
- It does not help build strength and stamina like running does.
- Walking does not qualify as HIIT exercise, some of which is very necessary for your cardiovascular health.
Running as an exercise: the pros and cons
Running is an excellent and super-effective high-intensity workout that gets your heart pumping and your body sweating all that fat. In fact, it is one of the best forms of cardio workouts to improve the functioning and capacity of your cardiovascular system. Here's a detailed list of pros that will have you put your running shorts and sports bras on:
1. Better overall health
Yes, best to get obvious out of the way. Your resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, and pretty much all such obesity or lifestyle-related ailments stay far away when you indulge in regular running routines.
2. Runners high is real
Oh yes, bring those endorphins ON. Runners high is real and has been researched extensively. It is thought to be caused by the release of endorphins in the brain during exercise. Endorphins are hormones that act as natural painkillers and make us feel good.
3. Improved bone strength
Regular running can help to strengthen your bones, which can reduce your risk of fracture and osteoporosis. Your bone strength improving is great to keep you running further, and so it goes on and on and on.
4. Mental well-being
Endorphins aside, the gains you experience when you run prove to be highly effective in keeping you motivated. Every new step is just positive reinforcement to achieve more. And then some more.
6. Improved endurance
Regular running can help to increase your endurance, which can help you perform better in all aspects of your life. It's like if you can get up at 5 am and run a few miles, what can even stop you anymore?
7. Speed and agility
Running improves your speed as well as your agility. You will notice this when you engage in other sports and you suddenly are just moving quicker.
Running has its cons too, don't let those fast runners tell you otherwise.
- Increased risk of injuries - you are moving quicker, and you might not be in control of everything.
- Not very great at improving your posture - you simply don't have that headspace.
Back to the big question: Is walking better than running?
Is walking really better than running? Is the walking vs jogging debate worth it? Nope. But is it worse? Also, nope. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including your fitness level, goals, and health needs. Walking and running both have their own set of benefits. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help to improve your cardiovascular health, while running is a higher-impact exercise that can help to improve your speed and agility. Ultimately, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both activities before deciding which one is better for you.
Which is better for you - walking or running?
Ask yourself the following questions once you have understood the difference between walking and running as different forms of exercise:
- What are your goals?
- What is your current fitness level?
- Are you prone to injury?
- Do you have a preference for one form of exercise over the other?
- What is the terrain like in your area?
- Do you have access to a safe running route?
- What is your budget for running or walking equipment?
The answer will help you decide. I promise. Either way, you will end up with a brilliant workout that will qualitatively improve your life.