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Walking or Running – What’s Better for you?

Walking can provide a lot of the same benefits of running. But running burn much more calories at a faster rate.
You need to burn approximately 3,500 calories to lose one pound. If your goal is to lose weight, running is a better choice than walking.
If you’re new to exercise or aren’t able to run, walking can still help you get in shape. Walking is accessible for nearly all fitness levels. It can boost your heart and give you more energy overall. For a beginner, walking is a great gateway to running – once you start walking, it will lead to both loss of weight but also a more active lifestyle. Set goals along the way, whether that is to walk further than you have before, or split you exercise 50/50 with walking and running.

Walking vs. running for weight loss

Walking with a weighted vest
Walking with a weighted vest may increase the number of calories you burn. To stay safe, wear a vest that’s no more than 5 to 10 percent of your body weight.
If you’re looking for an alternative way to lose weight or tone your muscles, try interval walking instead. Pick up the speed for a certain amount of time before slowing down. Or alternatively, try walking with light dumbbells in each hand.
Incline walking vs. running
Incline walking involves walking uphill. It can burn a similar number of calories as running. You burn more calories at an incline than just walking on a flat surface.
Look for a hilly area or walk on an incline on the treadmill. Increase the incline by 5, 10, or 15 percent at a time to practice incline walking. If you’re new to incline walking, you can start gradually and work up to a 15 percent incline.

Benefits vs. risks

Running is a great way to get in shape and lose weight. But it’s a high-impact exercise. High-impact workouts can be harder on your body than low-impact exercises like walking.
Over time, running may lead to common overuse injuries such as:
  • stress fractures
  • shin splints
  • ITB friction syndrome
In fact, runners have a much higher risk for exercise-related injury than walkers. Walkers have an approximate 1 to 5 percent injury risk, while runners have a 20 to 70 percent chance.
If you’re a runner, you can take steps to stay injury-free. Don’t increase your mileage too quickly and try to cross-train several times a week. Or, try walking instead. Walking offers many of the health benefits of running without the same risks for injury.


Both walking and running are excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise each week for your health.
Walking is a smart choice if you’re new to exercise and hoping to get in shape. If you’re looking to lose weight or burn more calories, try running.
If you’re new to running, start with a program where you alternate between walking and running, such as Couch to 5K. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

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