One woman runs and another walks©Istock

Running or walking? Find out the best exercise for weight loss

The experts weigh in on the best way to get into healthy shape

The eternal quandary of whether running or walking is better for weight loss, has been answered by Harvard. Running will help you burn more calories in less time, but walking is also a great form of exercise for most people. Though it may seem obvious that running burns more energy and is a more demanding form of cardio, there are important factors you should keep in mind to ensure you always view a good walk as a workout.

Women running across the Brooklyn Bridge©Getty Images
Running is faster and more effective when you’re looking to lose weight

Both methods share a number of benefits:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Lowered risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Weight loss
  • Toned muscles, especially in the lower body

Both running and walking at a brisk pace are beneficial to your mental health. Walking helps bring inner peace and promotes relaxation, while running offers a kind of euphoria due to the challenge faced and overcome by the body. As with any physical activity, both running and walking offer a number of additional advantages that can make one activity more appealing to or appropriate for an individual person.

Woman walking in the forest©Istock
Walking is a great option to lose weight and is perfect for people who, for whatever reason, cannot or should not run

Running isn’t for everyone

That said, many people choose to go out for runs and there is an increasingly large legion of running enthusiasts out there whose bodies demonstrate the health advantages provided by running. However, there are conditions and illnesses that can make this activity less than ideal for everyone.

As it is a high-impact sport, it can cause injuries and problems for people with weak joints, who can wind up suffering arthrosis. It can also be harmful or painful for people with back problems. In these cases, walking is the best option to reduce risk.

Woman running©Istock
Running, especially on asphalt, can be hard on the knees

Unsurprisingly, if you’re looking to see results, you’ll have to spend more time walking than running. For instance, if you’re looking to burn fat, you should take an hour-long walk every day, but you could burn the same amount running just 20 or 30 minutes per day.

If running appeals more to you, you can run three days per week for 45 minutes or an hour each session, running every other day. If you’ve never run before, you should go in for a check-up with your doctor, buy some good sneakers, and start out with a plan to walk and gradually incorporate jogging into the routine. Running outdoors is better than on a treadmill, but if you are running on a treadmill, be sure to gradually incorporate inclines into your workouts.

Woman running on a treadmill©Istock
Walking and running outdoors is better than indoors

Tom Holland, personal trainer and author of the Marathon Method, believes that walking is a perfectly valid weight-loss method. “Walking is perfectly fine too. It’s actually a great way to lose weight, combined with diet changes; you just need to do it consistently and do it for a longer period,” he told Popsugar.

You can optimize your workout with interval training, or varying your running or walking pace. Go fast and then take a few short breaks at a slower pace. Running in areas on a slope is also a great option, provided you take care not to put too much stress on your knees while going downhill. Remember to always warm up before you get started and cool down when you’re done.

Woman stretches©Wenn
Never forget to stretch after jogging or walking to prevent injury

The most important thing to do is choose the kind of exercise you like best and stick with it. Remember that you should combine your fitness routine with a healthy diet and be sure to rest in between session, to give your muscles the chance to recover.

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