Running and walking are both awesome physical activities. And for weight loss, running will always win hands down. Fall is a great time to get outdoors for a regular workout. The air is crisp, and the temperatures are cool, and the beauty of the season is everywhere. Most experts agree that a good walk or run can have great health benefits. These include higher energy levels, better mood patterns, regulated blood pressure and healthier cholesterol. Most importantly, both activities reduce the risk of three major health risks -- cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
US Family Health Plan – a TRICARE Prime health option – recommends walking and running. Most military service members know that staying in top shape has its health advantages while supporting overall stamina. While running does require more sheer physical strength and endurance, walking is actually healthier in many ways. It heals the body, enhances physical appearance and provides some long-term health benefits that running fails to provide.
Here are 5 advantages to consider when deciding whether to walk or run:
- Walking offers more cardiovascular benefits, if the same energy is expended. To expend the same energy on a walk as a run, you need to walk much longer at a brisk pace. However, the cardiovascular health benefits of a good walk beat those of a good run. According to a study conducted by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, people who took long, brisk walks had double the risk reduction for heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, when compared to runners.
- Running can place undue stress on your immune system. Walking taxes your immune system far less that running, especially if you tend to run long distances. A study conducted at the University of Ulm, in Germany concluded that runners are significantly more susceptible to infections and break downs in their immune system. This is because their systems can become over-taxed. It further concluded that marathon running burns muscle tissue (in addition to fat) which can pose a health problem as well.
- Running causes joint cartilage damage over time. The American Journal of Sports Medicine published a study concluding that regularly running, for even just three months, can result in irreversible damage to joint cartilage. Walking, on the other hand, is low impact and involves much less wear and tear on the joints. Walking is a good way to help keep joints healthy.
- Running may cause osteoarthritis. The jury is still out as to whether there is a direct link between running and osteoarthritis. However, a study publishes by the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association indicated that over a long period of time, running can deplete the lubricating proteins and collagens needed to maintain healthy joints and bones. Runners are much more likely to endure injuries than walkers. These injuries can lead to tiny micro-fractures in bones surrounding joints.
- Walking is within reach of everyone. Walking is an amazing activity for fitness beginners or individuals diagnosed with certain health issues. Obese people will expose their bodies to less stress if they choose walking over running. About 10,000 steps a day makes women feel 4.6 year younger, and men 4.1 years younger. Walking is easily implemented in working hours, so you can consider taking a walking meeting or getting yourself a treadmill desk. Even a lunchtime walk through the mall can prove beneficial.
At the end of the day, running and walking are both great ways to exercise. And as the foliage starts to break, there is no better time to take your fitness routine outdoors. If you just love to run, you can offset health risks by using good shoes, and running on grass, woodland trails, or man-made tracks. But don’t underestimate the value of a good walk. US Family Health Plan believes there are definite benefits to taking in the bounty of the season at a slower pace. Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any new workout regiment. But sometimes a brisk, long autumn walk is the best way to soak in nature’s beauty.