Running may be more high-intensity and calorie-burning than walking, but walking is a great way to ease into exercise—no matter what your current health status—and make sure you’re staying physically active every day.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, call for a minimum of 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity.
So does it matter whether you get those minutes walking or running? Lets take a look:
Improve Heart Health
Running makes the heart work harder than walking, so it stands to reason that it would also make it healthier. But the answer again may come down to how much time you have.
But walkers who expended the same amount of energy as runners daily—burned the same amount of calories—had a risk level that was 9 percent lower than those who were inactive.
Runners pound the pavement, but running doesn’t necessarily lead to more arthritis than walking, according to recent research.
Running gets the reputation for causing injuries because many people who are just starting to run try to do too much too quickly, and they often get injured as a result. If you want to progress from walking to running, do it slowly, gradually increasing the speed, distance, and frequency of your runs.
Reduce Belly Fat
You can help decrease how much fat you store in your middle if you pick up the pace by interspersing some stretches of all-out sprinting with your jog or walk.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)—a workout in which you alternate short bursts of activity at close to your peak heart rate with easier bouts—can help eat away at belly fat. They have been known to reduce what’s called visceral fat by 1.8 percent. This is important because visceral fat is located deep in the abdominal cavity, surrounding organs such as the liver and pancreas. That means the fat can trigger a variety of metabolic changes, including increased insulin resistance and higher triglyceride levels.
Maximize Calorie Burning
The key difference between running and walking is how many calories you are burning—not per mile, but per minute of exercise. For a 160-pound person, walking at a brisk, 3.5-mph pace for 30 minutes will burn about 156 calories. But running at a 6-mph pace for that same 30 minutes will burn more than double the calories (about 356).
Running is a less efficient movement, and it’s more demanding on the body, so it burns more calories per minute, but if you’ve got the time to walk long enough to burn the equivalent calories, then walking is fine.