Running or walking to lose weight — which should you choose?
It’s no secret that any form of exercise is better than no exercise if you want to lose some extra weight and tone up your body. But is walking or running better for losing weight? And which one has the most benefits and allows you to burn calories quicker?
Running might be high-intensity exercise, but it also has quick results and burns calories quickly. While it is not as intensive as running, a good brisk walk has been known to burn abdominal fat faster.
Join us as we take you through the world of activity-led weight loss. Here we’ll take an in-depth look at running and walking to determine which is best for getting in shape fast.
- Why Run?
- Why Walk?
- Running vs Walking For Losing Weight
- The Science Behind Burning Calories
- Running and Walking: The Risks
- What Do You Need for Running/Walking?
- Can Walking and Running Be Combined?
- The C25K Fitness Challenge
- Why the C25K is So Effective
- Running vs Walking: One Is Better Than None!
Running might be high-intensity exercise, but it also has quick results, as it burns calories up to two times faster than a brisk walk. Also a great form of cardiovascular exercise, running can help trim and tone muscles and is known to increase metabolism, which leads to weight loss and lowered cholesterol levels.
Here are a few more benefits you will enjoy from running:
- Builds strong bones and muscle
- Helps maintain weight
- Improve the body’s cardiovascular system
- Reduce the risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease
These are all incredible benefits, and for those who want to lose weight fast, it might seem like a better option than regular walking.
So, in that case…
If working up a sweat is not your idea of exercise, you might consider walking as a method to lose weight. While it is not as intensive as running, a good brisk walk has been known to burn abdominal fat faster. Walking can help stabilize your blood glucose levels and blood pressure, strengthen the heart, and improve mood and sleep cycles.
Here are a few more benefits of walking:
- Increase energy levels
- Help clear the mind
- Forces you to get outdoors
- Helps improve Vitamin D levels for overall good health
Some fitness experts advocate walking as a better method of losing weight because it’s a more sustainable workout:
Running vs Walking For Losing Weight
The quickest way to lose weight is to reduce or burn calories, right? While running burns far more calories than a walk, it is also known to be more strenuous and cause more injuries than walking.
Using the FITT method to choose an exercise will only benefit you (and help you lose weight) in the long run as you choose based on Frequency, Intensity, Type, and Time.
How often you have available to exercise, the intensity and type of exercise you choose, and the time you dedicate to your fitness regime all come into play.
Time is something that everyone seems to be in short supply of. With busy schedules of work, family, and other commitments, finding time to exercise during the week might seem impossible. But, if you are really dedicated to losing the weight and increasing your fitness levels, there are ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine – even if it is only a few minutes a day.
Starting slowly allows YOU to control how little or how much time you want to dedicate to your fitness and health routine. While there are no guarantees or timelines regarding how fast you will lose weight, the results speak for themselves, and you can adapt your training schedule as and when you see fit.
If you have never exercised before, a walk can be just as good as a run, and scientists agree. Running is in no way better than walking, and vice versa. But with running, the results are just apparent sooner than they would be with walking.
The Science Behind Burning Calories
A lot of information is available about how good a run or walk is for burning calories. But how much of what we read online or in fashion magazines is true?
According to the American Council on Exercise, there is a clear and well-studied difference in calorie loss between running and walking.
Studies conducted on a person with an average weight of 160 pounds yielded the following results:
- Running burns an average of 15.1 calories per minute, while walking burns only 8.7 calories over the same time.
Based on this data alone, it is clear to see that running burns more calories.
There is, of course, more to it, and the number of calories you will inevitably burn during exercise depends on much more than how far or long you run. Calorie loss depends on the following factors:
- Your body weight at the beginning of your fitness journey
- How long you exercise for (this includes all types of exercise)
- The intensity of the exercise you choose
Running and Walking: The Risks
As with any exercise, there is a risk of injury. Running has far more risks than walking and could lead to fractures, shin splints, injuries to muscles and soft tissue, and more. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons of any exercise before diving right in, so researching your chosen exercise is both necessary and important.
We have looked at the benefits of running and walking above. Let’s now look at the cons or disadvantages associated with each.
Disadvantages of Running:
- Mostly strengthens lower body only
- High impact means your technique must be good, or injuries will follow
- Wearing improper footwear while running can cause injuries like shin splints and stress fractures
Disadvantages of Walking:
- Stress on the Achilles tendon
- Burns calories slower than running
- Easier to become bored while walking
What Do You Need for Running/Walking?
With all the fancy gadgets and gizmos available for running, how many are necessary? Do you need a fancy watch that tracks your heart rate or an application that counts your steps?
If you are running to keep fit and lose a bit of weight, then no, you do not need anything more than a good, comfortable pair of running shoes.
One of the biggest advantages of a running routine is the freedom to run where you want to when you want to without paying any exorbitant gym fees. Running and walking are great forms of exercise that anyone can do.
Can Walking and Running Be Combined?
One of the best possible things you can do to increase the calories burned and lower the risk of injury or strain on your body is to combine walking and running. Why choose just one when you can do both and reap the rewards two-fold?
Combining and running may seem daunting, but it involves a carefully planned exercise routine that sees you starting off slow and increasing the intensity, distance, and duration of both over an extended period.
Walking is the best low-intensity workout and is great for burning abdominal fat and toning those belly muscles. On the other hand, running is high-intensity and is the best exercise to burn fat in the rest of the body. Combine the two, and you are good to go.
One of the most effective and popular training programs available is the C25K, or Couch to 5 Kilometer run. Developed by runner Josh Clark in the mid-90s, the C25K is designed to introduce you to running, and focuses on exercising for 20 to 30 minutes a day, three days a week, until you are ready to run a 5km race.
Let’s look at the C25K in more detail, see how effective it is, and how to start your own journey to running a 5km – even if that is not your end goal.
The C25K Fitness Challenge
A quick search on the internet leads to hundreds of C25K training plans that vary by the number of weeks you should train for. If you have never exercised before, many suggest first starting with the 9-week challenge.
Starting with a mix of running and walking, the program gradually increases the time spent running and walking each week, with the overall goal being running a 5km (3.1 miles). The program is so popular that it is now available as a mobile app for both Android and Apple users and allows you to track your time and progress as you make your way through the six or nine-week fitness routine.
Why the C25K is So Effective
The Couch to 5K is much more than just a fitness plan and is a mental challenge that will see you pushing yourself to the limit mentally and physically. With a set schedule, it is up to you to commit yourself to the plan and find the time to exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes, no less than three times a week.
But, there is a big difference between the C25K and other fitness challenges, and that is the benefit of rest days.
Starting any exercise routine or training plan comes with fatigue and a slight drop in energy levels, so the C25K recommends a rest day between runs. This helps give your muscles a break and allows your body to ease slowly into the routine of running and walking.
Results are seen fairly early in the program, which is a great self-confidence booster and will motivate you to push on and finish the full 6- or 9-week challenge.
Give it a try for yourself and watch the weight practically disappear.
Running vs Walking: One Is Better Than None!
Running and walking are both excellent exercise options for those who want to lose weight.
While one may be more intensive, they can be combined to create the ultimate workout that will see you lose weight and improve your fitness levels in no time.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, we strongly urge you to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider before you start any exercise program. This includes taking part in the C25K challenge.
Grab yourself a pair of running shoes, create a fun playlist of your favorite songs, and hit the streets or trails as you get fit and lose weight. And remember, rest days are good and necessary to help your body recover and reduce the risk of injuries associated with running and walking!