Though running may be great for losing weight, it notoriously carries a high risk for injuries. From inflammation to tendinitis to IT band syndrome, running is not easy on the body.
If you love the health benefits of running, but not the injuries, could walking be the solution you’re looking for?
More than 50 percent of runners will sustain some type of injury as opposed to just 1 percent of walkers. Running produces a force double that of walking, making your body much more susceptible to injury. And overly strenuous running (like marathon and triathlon training) can lead to heart problems. Walking, on the other hand, can extend your life and provide health benefits.
But does that mean that walking could or should take the place of running?
You need to weigh the pros and cons.
According to Dr. Peter Schnohr, a clinical cardiologist, running prolongs life slightly more than walking. But seeing as too much running can result in health problems, Schnohr notes that “the most favorable regimen is running two to three days a week at a slow or average pace.” And researcher Luiz Carlos Hespanhol found that after one year of running just two hours a week, runners lose weight, lower their heart rates, and reduce the fat in their blood (triglycerides). Not only that, but running has been shown to be an effective stress reducer.
What about walking? In a study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that five minutes of walking are just as beneficial as 15 minutes of walking.
Bottom line? Both running and walking have their upsides and their downsides. Running means more health benefits in a shorter amount of time, with increased risks of injury. Walking means fewer health benefits, but a lesser chance of hurting yourself. And no matter how often you walk, you never risk losing your health benefits like you do when running too hard.
Perhaps the best solution is to choose the routine you’ll stick to. If you hate running, walk! If you’re not a fan of walking, run. Or better yet, try jogging.