Is Walking as Effective an Exercise as Running?

First of all, I am a former runner. I ran in the first LaSalle National Bank 20k here in Chicago about a hundred years ago. I subsequently ran in dozens of similar events and logged hundreds of 10 mile mornings on my own. So, I have no axe to grind against running. Been there; done that. I have since transferred my exercise affections to the bicycle and ride pretty close to daily here in Chicago these days.


Enough about me, what about walking vs running for health? A six-year study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology in April found that walking at a moderate pace and running produced similar health benefits, so long as the same amount of energy was expended.

Studies show that how long you exercise and how many calories you burn is more important than how hard you exercise. Running is a more efficient form of exercise, but not necessarily better for you.

Dr. Anthony Goodman in his course Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at any Age writes, “Walking may be a better exercise for many people than running because walkers may be able to sustain their activity more consistently and for a longer period of time than runners.”

The National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Study examined the differences in exercise mode and thereby exercise intensity on coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors.

The risk factors were not significantly different for running than walking for diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, or CHD.

Finally, I need to mention that both walking and running are weight-bearing exercises. These are very important for us as we age because they strengthen our bones and help to prevent osteoporosis. I need to augment my cycling to include weight-bearing exercises as cycling which is good cardio exercise is not weight-bearing, so it doesn’t protect against osteoporosis.

For some further benefits of walking and a balanced exercise program please check out my post What is the most balanced exercise program?

Finally, I am firmly against extreme long distance running – like the marathon. You can read chapter and verse on Why you shouldn’t run a marathon.



Filed under walking

7 responses to “Is Walking as Effective an Exercise as Running?

  1. Don’t get me wrong, walking is great but running CLEARLY requires a higher level of fitness, therefore produces more chances in the cardio-respiratory systems (ie more health benefits). The issues come from running, when people perform injury maintenance and or train at an intensity they are not ready for. However that’s the same with ALL sports.


    • Thanks for your comment.

      I think there is no comparison between the injuries in running vs walking. As a former runner, I found myself drawn to do more – to run farther, to make better times. That’s where the injuries get bad. You don’t have that in walking. I am for reducing risk in exercise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I dunno, I know a few members of rambling associations and they always seem to have hip & knee issues. I’ve never had a running related injury. However I do spend time in my ‘off’ season fixing muscle imbalances and working my core.


      • All right. I must admit that your experience differs from mine. When I was a runner, I had shin, knee and ankle injuries as did my friends. I know of no friends these days who are walkers that suffer like that.


  2. It depends what your goals are – while the study you linked found similar benefits for “hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and possibly CHD” when comparing walk to running, running is obviously for more efficient at fat loss, particularly with high intensity interval training. With that said, there have also been studies that have found regardless how vigorously you exercise every day/week, the more time spent sitting the higher at risk we are of heart disease!

    I think the best approach is a lot of walking + a decent amount of vigorous exercise (eg sprints or weight lifting).

    I have a fitness blog too, where I analyse fitness fads, media articles and myths, feel free to check it out )

    Jason Jarred


  3. The great debate…walking v. running. Running definitely wears out our bodies faster but it can feel so good to a point. I think balance is key. Great article!


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