That said, walking is a much better option for your knees, shins, ankles, and just about every part of your body. “Walking is very low-impact,” says Mooney. “It’s easy on the joints and reduces the risk of arthritis-related issues.”
In fact, according to a Harvard study, not only is walking one of the most popular forms of exercise worldwide, it is an essential cardiovascular physical activity that significantly boosts your heart rate.
“The accessibility of walking makes it an excellent choice for anyone trying to get back into their fitness routine after a break or injury,” adds Mooney.
Walking vs running: how do they stack up, calorie-wise?
A quick Google reveals humans can burn between 100 to 200 calories of “brisk” walking. Jogging ramps this up to between 280 and 520 calories.
“Calorie expenditure is decreased when walking compared to running, due to a lack of intensity and stress put on the aerobic energy system,” says Telegadas.
It’s worth noting that calorie counting isn’t an exact science. All of this relies on factors such as cadence, your height, and weight, and whether you have a pesky headwind slowing you down or back wind pushing you along…
Do I need gear to get going?
The short answer is no. The long answer is it depends.
“Both running and walking require minimal gear investment, but I would stress that quality running shoes are crucial for both activities,” says Mooney.
If you want to jump on the gear bandwagon and take your running up a notch, you’ll probably want to invest in a good pair of shorts, a decent hat, sunglasses, gels, a smartwatch, a water bottle, though the list goes on. Ditto for walking; if you’re hiking long-distance, you might want to add a rucksack and walking poles.
Basically, both activities can be as cheap or as costly as your capitalist urges to spend spend spend will allow.
At a very basic level, all you need for either is some comfortable clothes, and a good pair of comfortable trainers. That’s it.
Am I going to get injured?
Unless you’re pioneering a pretty innovative walking technique, it’s going to be difficult to get injured walking—except maybe if you’re hiking across Australia or something. Running is a different game.
“Injuries are higher in runners who do not incorporate resistance training into their routine,” says Telegadas. “This is due to repeated stress placed on the ankles, knees, hips, lower back, etc. Total body training splits performed twice a week can help.”
Telegadas also notes that “Rates of physiological burnout are higher in running due to its dull and monotonous training modes.” But, there are arguably more ways to mix up your running—sprints, circuits, trail runs etc.—than simply walking.
With either activity, Mooney recommends a proper warm-up, an emphasis on mobility exercises, and incorporating sufficient rest days.
What’s the best plan for my fitness?
If you focus solely on running, it’s likely you’ll burn out or injure yourself. If walking is your only exercise, you’re going to struggle to really get your heart rate up and challenge yourself. And to get the same mileage, you’ll have to add more time to your workout schedule.
“A balanced approach combining walking and running is highly effective,” says Mooney. “Create a realistic schedule that aligns with your lifestyle, alternating between walking and running and allowing for mobility-focused recovery days to prevent overexertion. Consider running or walking in place of using public transport, or join a Run Club with a friend so you can exercise and socialize simultaneously.”
Telegadas recommends using apps like Strava or Garmin to track mileage, pacing, and overall progress if you’re new to either activity. For a balanced week, he recommends heading out for a run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, gradually covering more distance but at a slower pace as the week progresses. In between, he suggests walking eight to 12K steps, or stopping entirely at the weekends for a well-earned rest. After all, there’s nothing wrong with putting your feet up every now and then.
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