Is running better than walking?

  • If you are walking briskly it may not matter if you run or walk.
  • It really depends on what you are trying to achieve.

In a study comparing walking and running,

  • Equivalent energy expenditures or calories burned by either moderate walking or running produced similar risk reductions for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes.
  • “Our results suggest that exercise does affect LDL levels and that this effect increases with increasing exercise doses, consistent with the suggestion that LDL concentrations are more responsive to the exercise quantity than intensity”
  • Both moderate and vigorous exercise have been associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes however, studies of blood glucose control tend to achieve a significant improvement for vigorous more than moderate physical activity.
  • Reference Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2013 May; 33(5): 1085–1091. Walking vs running for hypertension, cholesterol, & diabetes risk reduction Paul T. Williams, PhD1 and Paul D. Thompson, MD2
Weight loss and running
  • In another study, those who ran rather than walked lost more weight.
  • Researchers looked at survey data from 15,237 walkers and 32,215 runners enrolled in the National Runners and Walkers Health Study.
  • Participants were asked about their weight, waist circumference, diets and typical weekly walking or running mileage both when they joined the study, and then again up to six years later.
  • Change in weight was significantly associated with those who ran or walked more.
  • The change in body mass index was significantly greater for running compared to walking.
  • Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Apr;45(4):706-13. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31827b0d0a. Greater weight loss from running than walking during a 6.2-yr prospective follow-up. Williams PT1.
Appetite difference between runners and walkers
  • Plasma concentrations of the  gut hormones change with exercise.
  • The levels of the peptide ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY), glucagon-like peptide-1, and appetite ratings were measured at 30 min interval for 120 min, followed by a free-choice meal.
  • Peptides were elevated after running, but no changes were observed after walking.
  • The walkers actually ate 50 more calories compared to the runners
  • Results provide evidence that exercise-induced alterations in appetite are likely driven by complex changes in appetite-regulating hormones rather than a change in a single gut peptide.
  • J Obes. 2012;2012:730409. doi: 10.1155/2012/730409. Epub 2012 Apr 29. Influence of running and walking on hormonal regulators of appetite in women. Larson-Meyer DE1, Palm S, Bansal A, Austin KJ, Hart AM, Alexander BM.

Marathon runners and weight gain

  • Some people who are training for a long distance run may actually gain weight when they begin running.
  • The increase in muscle mass may cause an increase in weight.
  • Appetites can increase with long distance running leading to an increase in weight as well.

It appears you are more likely to lose weight with running as compared to walking unless you are training for a long distance marathon.

Disadvantages of running

  • Knee injuries
  • Foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Stress fractures

How do you reduce the risk of running injuries?

  • Train for shorter distances.
  • Make sure to include rest days in between rigorous workout.
  • Stop if you develop pain.
  • Strength train to increase muscle which can help stabilize the knee and prevent injuries.
  • Cross training helps prevent over use of one particular area.
Prevention of injuries in runners
  • To help prevent injuries when running it is recommended to practice aerobic exercise and perform weight training.
  • The author suggested that weight training should be permed 3 times a week.
  • Both aerobic and weight training exercises seemed to reduce running injuries.
  •  J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Jan;31(1):207-216.Effects of Physical Training and Fitness on Running Injuries in Physically Active Young Men.Grier TL1, Canham-Chervak M, Anderson MK, Bushman TT, Jones BH.

Prevent running injury in military recruits

  • Running-related musculoskeletal injuries among U.S. military recruits negatively impact military readiness.
  • Low aerobic fitness, prior injury, and weekly running distance are known risk factors.
  • Physical fitness screening and remedial physical training (or discharging the most poorly fit recruits) before entry-level military training have tended to reduce injury rates while decreasing attrition, training, and medical costs. I

Changing the stride

  • “Varying lower extremity loading patterns, stride length or cadence manipulation, and hip stability/strengthening programming may further decrease injury risk.”

Best foot strike position when running

  • “No footstrike pattern is ideal for all runners; transitioning to forefoot striking may reduce the risk for hip, knee, or tibial injuries, but increase the risk for calf, Achilles, foot or ankle injuries.”

Running Surfaces

  • “Minimal evidence associates running surfaces with injury risk.”

Type of shoe

  • “Footwear interventions should focus on proper fit and comfort; the evidence does not support running shoe prescription per foot type to reduce injury risk among recruits.”
  • Reference Mil Med. 2016 Jun;181(6):512-23. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00143. Factors Influencing Running-Related Musculoskeletal Injury Risk Among U.S. Military Recruits. Molloy JM1.
 Age and running
  • Those runners who are 50 years of age or older have an increased risk of leg injuries.
  • As we age the joints become less mobile.
  • Our joint support weakens with age.
  • Studies have shown that older people take smaller strides.
  • This will require more steps to run the distance which increases the risk of injury.
  • Reference Wright VJ. Masterful care of the aging triathlete. Sports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2012. 20: 231-36. Lilley K, Dixon S, Stiles V. A biomechanical comparison of the running gait of mature and young females. Gait Post. 2011. 33: 496-500.

Health newsRunning and arthritis


  • “Running significantly reduced osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk due to, in part, running’s association with lower body mass index whereas other exercise increased osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk. If you do have to have a hip replacement then make sure that they do it right the first time, if not you can check out something like this hip replacement lawsuit in case something does go wrong.
  • There was a not a significant difference  in the risk of osteoarthritis between runners and walkers
  •  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jul;45(7):1292-7. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182885f26. Effects of running and walking on osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk. Williams PT1.


Biomechanics that occur while running may help decreasethe risk of  arthritis.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Mar;46(3):572-9. Why don’t most runners get knee osteoarthritis? A case for per-unit-distance loads.

Running and the type of shoe gear

  • Heavier runners are at greater risk of injury when running in minimalist shoes.
  • Reference Am J Sports Med. 2017 Jan 1:363546516682497. doi: 10.1177/0363546516682497. [Epub ahead of print] Body Mass and Weekly Training Distance Influence the Pain and Injuries Experienced by Runners Using Minimalist Shoes. Fuller JT1, Thewlis D1, Buckley JD1, Brown NA2, Hamill J3, Tsiros MD1.
Cataract development and exercise
  • Prior studies have shown that exercise reduces the risk of cataract.
  • “Moderate (walking) and vigorous (running) exercise were both significantly associated with lower cataract risk and their effects similar.”
  • “Cataract risk appears to decrease linearly with increasing exercise energy expenditure.”
  • Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jun;45(6):1089-96. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31828121d0. Walking and running are associated with similar reductions in cataract risk.Williams PT1
Heart attack survivors outcome with walking and running
  •  2,400 heart attack survivors who were runners or walkers were tracked for 10 years.
  • Increased exercise reduced their risk of dying from a heart attack by up to 65 percent.
  • However for those who ran more than 30 miles a week or walked more than 46 miles a week had the opposite effect.
  • This group doubled the risk of heart attack risk compared to those who ran or walked less.
  • It is unclear why the group that did the most exercise increased their risk of heart attack.
  • The benefits of walking compared to running were equivalent, as long as the energy output was the same.
  • Keep in mind that walking will take about twice as long as running to burn the same number of calories.
  • Reference Aug. 12 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Paul T. Williams,

Why should we exercise?

  • The American Heart Association recommends that we get 150 minutes of exercise a week.
  • Exercise can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, elevated lipid profiles, and diabetes.

Are you a runner or a walker?

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