The study included data from more than 33,000 runners and almost 16,000 walkers aged 18 to 80 with most between 40 and 50. The time period observed was 6 years.
Both activities reduced risk factors and if the same amount of energy was expended, they both provided the same benefits. The more people walked or ran each week, the more their health improved.
Here is a summary of the results:
- Running reduced the risk of high blood pressure 4.2 percent and walking reduced the risk 7.2 percent.
- Running reduced the risk for high cholesterol 4.3 percent and walking lowered the risk 7 percent.
- Running lowered the risk for diabetes 12.1 percent and walking reduced the risk 12.3 percent.
- Running decreased the risk of heart disease 4.5 percent and walking reduced the risk 9.3 percent.
It is interesting to note that for health benefits, walking was actually much better than running. In fact, it is obvious that walking beat running in all categories for reduced risk and some by a significant margin.
“Fitness experts often suggest that running is better than walking for those who want to lose weight because running requires 40% more energy. However, this observation is usually based on the time spent doing either activity, not the distance covered or total energy expended and does not consider our body’s hormonal response or the fuel used. This particular study actually showed much better results for walking when energy expenditures are equal regardless of intensity,” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust .
There is nothing wrong with running if you enjoy it. All activity is good activity. Just don’t think that you need to run or progress from walking to running to reap significant health benefits.
Griesel adds, “People often run because they find it more time-efficient than walking an equivalent distance. However, from a health standpoint walking is probably a better choice. If your goal is fat loss and you have the time, walking is the clear winner because it can be fueled almost exclusively with fat stores while running uses less fat and often requires the conversion of some lean body mass to adequately fuel the increased intensity.”