We All Need to Walk But Should We Run Too?

In All Health Watch, Featured Article, Fitness and Exercise, Heart and Cardiovascular

For most runners, nothing beats the feeling of a great jog after a stressful day. But what about if you just don’t feel like running? Will you get the same benefits from taking a walk instead?

True, you won’t burn as many calories in, say, an hour of walking as you would in an hour of running. Running uses two times more energy than brisk walking. It’s better for burning more calories and fat with a shorter time commitment.

But walking actually beats out running when it comes to lowering risk factors for high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease:

Running lowers risk by: Walking lowers risk by:
High blood pressure
4.2 percent
7.2 percent
High cholesterol
4.3 percent
7 percent
12.1 percent
12.1 percent
Heart disease
4.5 percent
9.3 percent

So when it really comes down to it…which is better? Running or walking?

That’s where it gets really interesting…

Need a pre-workout boost? Drinking a cup of coffee (minus the cream and sugar) will help you get the most out of your 12-minute workout. That cup of coffee will help accelerate fat loss, increase performance, improve focus, and decrease muscle pain.

Actually neither! But if you combine the two, then you get the best of both worlds…

Running burns more fat. But longer, more intense workouts do more damage than good, especially when it comes to your heart. Runners can damage their heart by straining the heart muscle.1 That creates scar tissue. And too much scar tissue in the heart can lead to congestive heart failure and death.

Walking is also not as rough on your joints. And the risk for injury is far less with walking than during a vigorous run. It also lowers your overall risk of dying by 32 percent.2 But with walking you’re not burning the calories or exerting yourself. You need more.

That’s where you combine walking and running. Interval training strengthens your heart better than running and burns way more calories than just walking. All you have to do is alternate between walking and running in the same workout.

Run as fast as you can until your heart is pumping and you’re out of breath. Then slow down and walk until your heart rate returns to normal. Then go fast again. Then rest. Can’t sprint? That’s okay, start off by walking as fast as you can instead.

After eight weeks of interval training people perform better and their bodies show less signs of stress.3

This is similar to the 12-minute PACE program—Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion—developed by Dr. Al Sears. PACE combines short duration exercise, rest, and progression. For 12 minutes you work in tiny increments of exertion and rest. Each week you build off of it and exert yourself a little more. As you decrease the duration, you turn up the exertion. It’s all about progressing according to your capabilities.4

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1 http://institutefornaturalhealing.com/2013/02/why-too-much-exercise-is-bad-for-your-heart-and-body/
2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18048441
3 http://jp.physoc.org/content/575/3/901.abstract?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=Gibala&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&andorexactfulltext
4 http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-drink/crush-your-workouts-with-coffee