The Benefits of Walking vs Running

by | Jul 21, 2021

If you are debating between walking and running and wondering which one is best for you, then the simple answer is that walking and running are equally great ways to exercise and doing either one regularly will keep you fit and healthy. 

Are you wondering whether your time is better spent pounding the pavements three times a week or having a leisurely stroll every day? The good news is, whichever activity you choose, you will reap rewards for your physical health and mental wellbeing. 

If you’re still undecided about which one to commit to, then it’s time to weigh up the pros and cons of both forms of exercise.

According to the NHS , the advice for adults between 19-64, is to do some form of activity every day. In fact, it is recommended we do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week (a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week (jogging).

The great thing about both forms of exercise is that they are relatively cheap to do and they can be performed and adapted by people of different abilities.

The Benefits of Walking

The benefits are endless, because not only does it get you outdoors and in nature but it also boost you mental health and emotional wellbeing.

A daily dose of fresh air can really help reduce those stress levels and to clear those issues playing on your mind and ease those feelings of anxiety.

Walking, although slower than walking, helps to raise the heart rate and wards of heart disease.

Walking is low impact, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise.

Walking is also a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly, or who haven’t exercised in a long time.

Walking for fun and fitness isn’t limited to strolling by yourself around local neighbourhood streets. There are various clubs, venues and strategies you can use to make walking an enjoyable and social part of your lifestyle.

The Health Benefits of Walking

You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is known as weight-bearing exercise. Some of the benefits include:

  • increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
  • reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
  • stronger bones and improved balance
  • increased muscle strength and endurance
  • reduced body fat.

How much should I walk?


You don’t need to shop for the best walking shoes on the market of evaluate what thickness of socks you need and then head off on a 10-mile hike, to get the benefits. Any short walk will help your general wellbeing and ward off the effects of a less-active lifestyle.

Research shows that a brisk walk of just 10 minutes per day will reduce the risk of early death by 15%

Professor Sir Muir Gray, clinical adviser for Public Health England, said: “The additional health benefits that can be achieved by walking at a brisk pace for periods of 10 minutes or more – as opposed to totting up a certain number of steps throughout the day – are undeniable.

“I’d advise anyone of any age and activity level to start to fit in at least one 10-minute brisk walk a day as a simple way to get more active, especially those who may be taking medication for a long-term health condition – you will receive even more benefits from walking briskly for 10 minutes or more a day.”

The Benefits Of Running

Obviously, running has all the health benefits of walking and more.

Running is primarily a terrific way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, which reduces the risk of all manner of conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes.

If you want to be healthy, then maintaining a healthy weight should be right at the top of your to-do list, and running will help you tick that off in double-quick time.

You burn a lot of calories when running, especially if you chuck in a few sprint sections during your run or power through your local parkrun. Even if you just maintain a nice steady pace for 45 minutes, you’re going to burn more calories than when you push yourself to the limit in a 20-minute HIIT session.

Getting used to running, if you haven’t done it in a while or ever, can be brutal.

Once your body and mind start to acclimate, running can be blissful, meditative, and provide a sense of freedom. One piece of advice is to remember that you’re running to have fun.

For those of you thinking that your knees won’t hold up, contrary to belief running can improve knee health.

In one eight-year study of 2,637 participants, researchers found that the more people ran, the less likely they were to suffer from knee pain or osteoarthritis.

While it’s hard to say that running directly caused people to experience less knee pain, researchers think that could be the case since running helps people keep their BMI in check and their leg muscles strong. Running also strengthens bones.

How Much Time Should I Spend Running?

If you are a complete beginner then it may be worth trying the Couch To 5K programme, which is a 9-week plan designed to do just what it says, from nothing to regularly running 30 mins plus.

Try a walk-run strategy of running for one minute and then walking for four minutes. This may seem slow at first, but it’s a proven way to slowly build strength and endurance while avoiding an injury.

Rest days are critical, even for the more seasoned runner. Having one between each run will reduce your chance of injury and also make you a stronger, better runner.

Resting allows your joints to recover from what is, in essence, a high-impact exercise and resting allows your running muscles to repair and strengthen.

One Study found that even a modest amount of running — five to 10 minutes a day at a slow pace — was associated with a 28 percent drop in all-cause mortality and an even greater reduction in risk of death from heart disease.

This Study went on to show that runners lived three years longer than non-runners.

Calories Burnt When Running and Walking

Walking: calories burnt per hour

  • Leisurely stroll Around 150 calories, walking at two miles per hour 
  • Moderate pace Around 220 calories, walking at three miles per hour
  • Brisk walk Around 300 calories walking, at four miles per hour

Running: calories burnt per hour

  • Light jog Around 550 calories, running at five miles per hour 
  • Steady run Around 680 calories, running at six miles per hour  
  • Strenuous pace Around 780 calories, running at seven miles per hour 

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