Can Walking Be as Effective as Running?

Walking or running, which is the better exercise? People constantly debate the best form of cardiovascular exercise. When performing a search online, you will likely find communities that back each method of training, which they can and should. Each activity is beneficial in its own right, meaning there is no shame in using both in your workouts. Variety is often more preferential than any one exercise to maintaining health and building muscle.

The problem comes when people argue over the effectiveness of either running or walking. When compared apples to apples — flat running versus flat walking — running wins with the calorie burn. However, running is more taxing on your knees, ankles, etc., which is why many people, especially those dealing with arthritis or injuries, prefer walking to running.

Truthfully, there is no reason you cannot experience an equivalent calorie burn while walking. You either need to walk for longer periods or start an incline regimen. Walking at a continuous incline burns more calories than flat walking, and it can burn a similar number of calories compared to flat running.

The Advantages of Incline Walking

While running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise, it is an aggressive and potentially abusive activity. Your knees and other joints sustain multiple and repetitive impacts that can worsen existing injuries or lead to damage later in life. 

Fitness experts have known that walking is less damaging than running for a long time. The impacts the body contends with during walking are less vigorous, softer. The big drawback to walking compared to running is the calorie deficit. Flat running and flat walking are not equivalent when it comes to calorie burn, and walkers will need to double or even triple their time exercising to receive the same benefits s runners. However, walking at an incline changes everything.

Incline walking engages stabilizer muscles and requires more energy than walking on a flat surface. The muscle engagement and energy burn are equivalent to flat running, if not better, in some ways.

By engaging the back, hips, and core, incline walking helps develop muscles key to balance. As people age, balance tends to weaken, becoming a significant threat to safety. With more developed stabilizer muscles, aging individuals can reduce the risks of falling and the injuries that stem from it.

Aside from building critical muscles, incline walking is still walking, so the typical advantages of walking over running remain, primarily reduced impact injuries. Walking does not require the same footpad collision with the concrete, meaning the body does not need to absorb as much force, even when incline walking.

Both Exercises Are Beneficial

No one is saying that you should never run. Running is an effective form of exercise. Still, it is not safe for everyone. 

People at a greater risk of injury should avoid running. Walking is preferential for those with arthritis and other musculoskeletal injuries. While flat walking will not provide the same calorie loss as running, incline walking does and in the same amount of time.

When choosing or planning your exercise routine, you should consult with your primary care physician to determine what activities are safe and most beneficial. Even if you cannot run, incline walking can provide a safer and equivalent form of exercise, especially from a calorie-burn perspective.

Do you have any experience with incline walking, or are you willing to give it a try? Leave a comment below.

How Many Steps Should You Take in a Day?

Everybody needs to move their feet. Walking can improve your blood circulation, protect your heart, reduce pain and improve your mood. According to several studies, people who walk every day spend less time in the hospital, have lower blood pressure and feel less depressed.

If you want to burn calories, you probably need to kick things up a notch to brisk walking, but even going for a calm, relaxed walk is good for you. How many steps should you aim for every day?

“Are You Serious … 10,000 Steps?!”

Many health professionals recommend reaching about 10,000 steps a day. That equals about 5 miles. If you feel a little shocked, you’re not alone. Most Americans only walk 3,000–4,000 steps on average, or around 2 miles.

Good news! A recent study says that you’re OK aiming for between 7,000 and 10,000 steps a day. It’s that 7,000-step marker that’s really important for your heart and your health.

Keep in mind that counting the steps you take looks at your physical activity throughout the day. It includes walking from place to place at work, walking around the store when you’re shopping for groceries and doing activities at home.

The Benefits of Walking More

Any physical exercise has a positive effect on your health, but hitting that range of 7,000–10,000 steps a day can make a major impact:

  • Lower risk of heart problems
  • Reduced risk of developing diabetes
  • Lower overall weight
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Reduced risk of cancer
  • Reduced risk of stroke

All of these benefits add up. People who walk every day are nearly 40% less likely to die compared to people who live a sedentary lifestyle.

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Tips for Upping Your Step Count

You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to meet your step count goals. Here are a few tips for success:

  • Use a comfy pair of shoes: Walking shoes can help you enjoy your exercise more. The happier your feet are, the more likely you’ll get into a walking routine.
  • Set smaller goals: You don’t have to reach your magical number from one day to another. If you’re hitting 4,000 a day this week, aim for 5,000 a day next week.
  • Walk at work: Visit co-workers in person instead of sending emails or calling their extension. Physical activity does you good.
  • Go for a walk after lunch: Instead of heading back to your desk right away after lunch, take advantage of your time to go for a short walk outside. Plus, the fresh air is good for mental focus and mood in the afternoon.

Put on some music: An energetic tune gets you in the mood to move your feet without even thinking about it.

Ways To Stay Active During Cold Months

What if you can’t spend much time outdoors because of freezing temps? Instead of counting 7,000–10,000 steps, focus on doing moderate exercise for 150–300 minutes a week (20–40 minutes a day). Riding a bike, jumping rope, vacuuming your house, using an elliptical trainer and following a dance routine are examples of moderate-intensity exercise you can do at home. Remember that the main goal is just to increase your heart rate and get your muscles working!