When trying to lose weight a healthy diet plus physical activity play a significant role in achieving your goal. A keto diet and intermittent fasting will create a calorie deficit that will force your body to use its secondary source of fuel, fat. Physical activity, whether you’re doing a long walking routine or a short running routine, helps you burn calories promoting weight loss.
Walking and running are both good ways of attaining a healthy body weight. But most people find themselves in a pickle when deciding between walking or running. Which one burns more calories? Do they have the same benefits for the body?
Which is better for weight loss, running or walking? This is entirely dependent on you and what your body needs! It is not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. Choosing the type of physical activity you will engage in does not rely on how many calories are burned only, but also on time and individual strength, and perseverance.
In this article, we will look at the reasons to do cardiovascular exercises, and asses the benefits of walking and running on weight loss, heart health, belly fat, and overall health.
Why Should You Do Cardio Exercises?
When starting your fitness journey, it would be wise to join a cardio exercise program at your gym to make exercising part of your everyday life. Walking and running are both forms of cardio. You can engage a personal trainer or join a walking group to keep you in check on your body weight goals.
Walking and running engage major muscles in the body increasing heart and breathing rates. The health benefits of doing cardio include boosting the immune system, increasing energy expenditure, and preventing and managing chronic conditions.
Aerobic exercises and other forms of cardio were seen to significantly improve lipid profiles in middle-aged and older adults, obese and overweight individuals, diabetics, and patients in cardiac rehabilitation more than in the younger population. Exercise reduces the risk of high cholesterol.
The mechanism associated with an improved lipid profile is attributed to exercise enhancing the ability of skeletal muscles to utilize lipids over glycogen, reducing plasma cholesterol levels.
Reduced risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
Researchers found an inverse relationship between blood pressure and exercise. The evidence suggests that aerobic exercise and endurance or resistance training reduced blood pressure through reduced vascular resistance attributed to the action of the renin-angiotensin system and sympathetic nervous system. It also reduces cardiovascular risk factors improving heart health.
Another meta-analysis reported that exercise had a more significant lowering effect on hypertensive than normotensive individuals. Blood pressure lowering was also associated with decreased systematic vascular resistance (SVR).
Another mechanism associated with lower blood pressure is the improvement of endothelial function. Exercise enhances the production of nitric oxide and metabolic-induced vasorelaxation, decreasing total peripheral resistance.
Diabetes Mellitus Risk Reduction
Cardio exercise protects against diabetes mellitus and other chronic diseases by reducing inflammation and insulin resistance. Exercising regularly enhances the production of anti-inflammatory hormones and inhibits those that enhance inflammation.
Muscle fibers produce Interleukin-6 (IL) during exercise which enhances the circulation of other anti-inflammatory cytokines and inhibits the circulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. IL promotes fat oxidation and lipolysis. Exercise inhibits the production of tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) preventing TNF-a-induced insulin resistance.
A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effect of exercise on insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes concluded that exercise improved glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. Structured exercise programs help reduce insulin resistance by enhancing insulin sensitivity.
This review also suggests that cardio exercises may not be the most effective form of physical exercise for overweight and obese diabetic patients because of weight and mobility problems, visual impairment, and cardiovascular problems. Achieving the volume and intensity of aerobic exercises needed to achieve significant insulin sensitivity and weight change may be difficult. Combining resistance training and aerobic exercise would be more beneficial.
Helps Burn Calories and Fats for Weight Loss
A randomized controlled trial was carried out to assess the effects of diet-induced weight loss, exercise-induced weight loss, exercise without weight loss, and control on visceral fat, subcutaneous fat, insulin sensitivity, and skeletal muscle mass in obese men.
There was a decrease in weight in exercise- and diet-induced weight loss groups and improved oxygen uptake in groups that were exercising. The overall body fat was reduced in both weight loss groups, although, weight loss was greater in exercise than diet-induced weight loss. Visceral fat and abdominal fat weight loss were observed in all groups engaging in exercise.
Exercise without weight loss lowers abdominal fat and prevents further weight gain. This study’s evidence suggests that exercise alone without dietary restrictions can also reduce obesity and is an effective way to help you lose weight.
Reduces Stress and Depression thus Improving Mental Health
One of the coping mechanisms for managing stress and anxiety is moderate exercise. Taking a long walk in the park can help you clear your mind and relax your nerves. The health benefits of cardio are not only related to helping you lose weight but they can be an effective tool for improving mental health.
A population-based study to assess the effects of exercise on the risk of depression showed that exercise was inversely related to depression among adults aged 45 and above. A sedentary lifestyle or little physical exercise was related to an increase in depressive symptoms and mood disorders.
Other studies have also shown that exercise reduces anxiety and stress and improves moods by increasing cerebral blood flow and the influence of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The communication of the HPA with the limbic system and hippocampus which controls mood and motivation and the amygdala which generates fear as a response to stress is proposed to be the cause of improved moods.
Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity activity like taking a walk at a brisk pace thrice a week can induce these health benefits on your mental health.
Improved Sleep Quality
Aerobics can improve sleep patterns and the sleep quality of adults suffering from insomnia. Research evidence shows that exercise plus sleep hygiene education can improve the quality of sleep. You only need 30 minutes of physical exercise daily to improve your sleep patterns.
Takes Care of The Brain and Memory
Exercise has been shown to increase the volume of the hippocampus which is responsible for memory and learning. It can be used as a preventive treatment for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) like dementia.
Promote Bone Health
Exercise can promote bone health. A study on premenopausal women concluded that exercise could increase femoral neck bone mass density. High-impact exercise for short periods was associated with reduced hip fragility when performed frequently.
Studies have shown a lower risk of osteoarthritis and hip replacement in runners than in individuals living a sedentary lifestyle. This could be because runners have lower body mass indexes (BMI) which puts less stress on the joints even during high-impact exercises like running.
Does Walking and Running Help Lose Weight?
Which is better for weight loss, running or walking? Both walking and running are effective for weight loss. A combination of both can help you lose weight faster and over a shorter period while building strength and stamina. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating between high-intensity activities and low-intensity exercise.
A way you can use walking and running in your interval training is by starting your workout by walking at a slow pace, then picking up the pace and jogging then finally running fast taking short breaks of running at a slower pace. The most important thing in HIIT is warming up before starting your exercise.
Both of these cardio exercises are great ways of achieving a healthy weight. But most people tend to wonder, which is better for weight loss, running or walking?
Which Is Better For Weight Loss Running or Walking?
Running is considered a highly intense exercise but it can be as light as you make it by jogging. Walking, on the other hand, is considered a low-intensity to moderate-intensity exercise but it can be as strenuous if you are walking at a brisk pace or walking uphill. Running is a more vigorous exercise than walking.
Is Walking As Good As Running For Weight Loss?
Which is better for weight loss: running or walking? If you ask me the intensity of the exercise determines how many calories are burned, so the type of exercise you choose, whether walking or running, can have similar health benefits depending on your effort and strength.
What am I trying to say is calories burned in 30 minutes of brisk walking are 150 and you can burn as many calories as this by running for 12 minutes at a pace of one mile per 10 minutes. If you walk with bent arms while swinging them vigorously, your pace increases and even your upper body gets to be part of the action. You will burn the same amount of calories if you increase the intensity of your walk (brisk walking) and if you walk for longer.
What Is Better for Weight Loss: Walking Versus Running?
Running burns more calories over a short period which makes it better than walking. The main difference between walking vs running that makes running better for weight loss is it burns more energy.
You can burn twice as many calories from running than walking. It also takes a shorter period to lose weight while running than it would be walking.
A study from the National Runner’s and Walker’s health study compared weight changes in people who had been walking or running. Both national runners and walkers experienced weight loss, but runners experienced more weight loss than walkers. Runners also maintained a lower body weight for longer.
This difference in weight change was attributed to increased post-exercise metabolic rate and post-exercise appetite suppression in vigorous exercises than in less vigorous ones.
However, if you cannot run or you just don’t like it, here are some reasons that will help you view walking as a great form of exercise too.
Why Is Walking Better Than Running For Weight Loss?
Walking Is A Low Impact Exercise
Running burns more calories but it places more impact and stress on your joints and feet. The body absorbs an impact of thrice your body weight each time you land on the ground. When you’re walking there’s not as much force hitting the ground so it is less stressful for your joints and feet.
Walking is better for older adults, overweight individuals, and people with injuries or those who have been previously injured. Healthy people don’t have to worry about joint health and bone mass density when running. The right pair of shoes can help you reduce the stress and impact on your feet and joints.
Walking Lowers Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk Factors More Efficiently
A study to investigate the efficiency of walking or running on cholesterol hypertension and diabetes risk reduction showed that walking significantly reduced blood pressure and risks of coronary heart disease (CHD) than running. Blood pressure levels were lowered by 7.2% and the risk of CHD by 9.3% when walking while runners were 4.2% and 4.5% for blood pressure and risk of CHD respectively.
Walking Lowers Risk of Injury
Running is associated with a higher risk of exercise-related injuries than walking. Injuries include Achilles tendonitis, muscle strains, and stress fractures. Running is a high-impact exercise that increases the chances of overuse injuries.
Research has shown that you are less likely to get injured walking than running. However, if you overdo walking, you may also get the same injuries that running causes.
Is Walking or Running Better For Belly Fat?
Running is more effective at burning belly fat than walking because it burns more calories. A randomized study aimed to measure the effects of exercise on body weight and body composition showed that individuals on vigorous exercise lost more body mass and fat mass than those on moderate-intensity workouts. Running led to more abdominal fat loss and a greater reduction in waist and hip circumference than walking.
A meta-analysis on the effects of high-intensity interval training on visceral fat and abdominal fat mass showed that individuals on HIIT like running lost more belly fat and visceral fat than those on low-impact HIIT like cycling. Since walking is low impact, we can assume the same to be the case.
Why Combine Strength Training With Cardio Exercises?
Research has shown that combining strength training and aerobics in your exercises was associated with a lower risk of obesity. Lifting weights twice a week can help you maintain your weight.
Choosing strength training exercises that complement your walking and running routine. Incline walking is a great way of incorporating strength training into your routine.
There are two ways you can add incline walking to your routine. if you’re a gym goer, incline your treadmill by 10% then walk. For my outdoor lovers, you can find a hill or ramp or steep stairs you can climb to make your walk more strenuous.
Water walking is also a great combination of resistance training and cardio. You can do it at the pool or beach. Water creates the resistance you need to intensify your cardio. Wearing a weighted vest that is 5% to 10% of your weight will add extra resistance without straining your shoulders and back like holding weights would.
Which is better for weight loss, running or walking? The best exercise for weight loss is the one that works for you. Whatever fits into your schedule and is easier to maintain is what is best for you. My advice would be to start slow and build up the intensity gradually.
Also, remember that the right diet plays a big role in weight loss. A low-carb, high-fat diet and strength training, and cardio are the best lifestyle choices for weight management.
Are you a walker or a runner? Why do you choose walking over running or vice versa? After reading this article would you consider adding strength training to your cardio routine? Finally, what diet are you on to complement your exercises? Let me know in the comment section!