Running vs. walking

When it comes to exercise, do you swear by working up a sweat with a good run, or do you prefer to take a vigorous walk? It turns out both runners and walkers reap health benefits compared with couch potatoes. But is one really better than the other for fitness? Lace up your sneakers as Consumer Reports breaks down the different benefits of running vs. walking.

It’s always good to get any kind of exercise, but which one is actually the best? It’s important that you choose exercise that you can do regularly. The main difference between walking and running is that running burns calories faster. For instance, running for half an hour burns about twice the calories as a half-hour of walking. But if the walker covers the same distance, just over a longer period of time, she’ll catch up caloriewise.

What about other health benefits? Running and walking are both excellent for heart health. When you run, your heart works harder than when you walk. But that doesn’t actually mean that runners have better heart health than walkers.

If runners and walkers burn the same number of calories every day, both groups have a lower risk of heart disease than inactive people. One large study found that walkers might have a slight advantage over the runners in terms of injuries. Experts say that injuries from running aren’t inevitable. They’re often caused by doing too much too soon. It’s best to ease into running and then gradually increase the speed, distance, and frequency of your runs.

Both types of exercise are also good for bone health. For instance, running or walking at least 30 minutes a day may help mitigate mild bone loss.

It doesn’t matter if you run or walk as long as you keep moving. And contrary to what you may think, runners don’t suffer from arthritis more than non-runners. In fact, their risk for arthritis is about 15 percent lower than for those who don’t exercise at all.

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