Walking vs. Running: Which is a Better Workout?

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Were you born to run? Hitting the pavement isn’t just a pastime, it’s part of who you are, and you can’t imagine more than a day or two without the sweat, the burn and the after-bliss. Or, maybe you’re a walker. Headphones on, arms swinging, long strides, steady pace. Your heart rate gets to just where you need it to be, and your muscles thank you for the smooth stretch afterward. But is one of these exercises better for you than the other?

Walking vs. Running: Which is a Better Workout?

There’s no question: running and walking have similarities; but they’re different in many ways, as well. Knowing your fitness goals will help you determine which one (or maybe a little of both!) is best for you.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits both types of workouts, along with some tips to steer you in the healthiest direction.

Walking benefits (low/moderate impact)

  • Great for beginners
  • Less stress on your knees, hips and joints
  • Does not burn muscle tissue
  • Burns fat
  • Reduced risk for injury
  • Can be done any time of day

Benefits of walking/running (high impact)

  • Burns a lot of calories
  • Running, especially, burns more total calories
  • Decreases appetite
  • Relieves stress and boosts brains serotonin levels (also known as the “runner’s high”)
  • Strengthens lungs
  • Increases bone density

Walking & running similarities

  • Both are forms of aerobic exercise
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Elevate mood
  • Improve sleep
  • Boost energy levels
  • Decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes (when combined with a healthy diet)
  • Can be done anywhere, year round
  • Help to maintain a healthy weight
  • Cost effective

Tips for either exercise

  • Always be sure to stretch before and after walking or running
  • Hydrate both before and after walking or running
  • Invest in proper shoes
  • Use a pedometer to track your steps and calories burned
  • Try a walk/run program: walk for 3 minutes, then run for 1 minute; continue for a 30 minute workout

The bottom line is to choose the activity that you like best and that you feel you’ll stick with. That’s what matters most—being consistent with your workouts!