Clients often ask me which is better for weight loss; walking or running. It’s never a simple answer. On one hand, proponents of running claim it produces a higher calorie burn, controls appetite and aids in weight loss. On the other hand, those in favor of walking say that it burns more fat, is safer, and is a better choice for long term health. So, let’s break it down.
Running burns more calories minute for minute. The National Institute of Health explains that we burn approximately 2.5 times more calories when we run versus walk. For example, if I burn 100 calories in a 20 minute walk, I would burn 250 calories in a 20 minute run. In short, that means that running will cause more calories burned resulting in more effective weight loss. However, here’s the science-y bit. While running DOES burn more calories, walking burns more fat. Keep in mind that if you want to burn as many calories during a walk as you would a run, you would just walk for a longer period of time or increase the intensity of the walk by incorporating weights or incline.
Running also controls appetite better than walking. Running tends to release more of the hormone Peptide YY, which is a natural appetite suppressant. As an avid runner, I have noticed that after runs, particularly long run such as a marathon, I am not as hungry as I would expect. That’s because my body is being flooded with a hormone that tells me I’m not hungry. Walkers, however, will not experience the same rush of appetite suppressing hormones. Not to worry, walkers just have to make sure they are being careful with their diet. Keep it clean and watch your portions!
Running may suppress your appetite more than walking.
Something else to consider is the risk of injury in both forms of cardio. Runners are significantly more likely to experience injury where only 1 percent of walkers get injured. Running is a repetitive, moderate to high impact exercise that can take its toll on our joints. Runners often see knee injuries, hamstring and quad injuries, and shin splints. This is almost never the case for walkers.
What about other health benefits? Well, walking and running both improve cardiovascular health similarly. Research has also found that walking is just as effective in controlling blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as running. You just need to do it longer.
Ultimately, it’s up to you! Not everyone CAN run. If you’re new to exercise, walking is a great place to start. People with joint issues or other health concerns may find that walking is more comfortable for them. Other people prefer a challenge and running is definitely more challenging. If you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to exercise, running might be a better option. You can get more done, faster. It really comes down to preference and what is best for you!