Is Brisk Walking or Running Better for Weight Loss?

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question-icon-newMy goal is to lose 25 pounds and I would like to lose it all within 3-4 months. I know walking is a good exercise but I read that it really does not burn that many overall calories when compared to running. I’m thinking about doing 2 hours of brisk walking which will hopefully get my heart rate up high enough. Will I burn enough calories to lose a lot of weight in this amount of time? Or, is running the best choice for burning lots of calories and dropping pounds quickly?

answer-icon-newAn excellent way to lose weight and improve your health is to add aerobic exercise to your routine. Walking and running are both excellent aerobic exercises which promote weight loss, boost your energy levels, elevate your mood, improve your sleep, and decrease the risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes among many other health benefits. These two cardio exercises are social activities and are very convenient to perform, both are inexpensive, easy-to-do anywhere and you can do them continually. However, running is the most popular form of exercise compared to walking when the main goal is to lose weight and drop pounds quickly. This is simply due to the overall intense calorie burning effects that running has on the body. Let’s take a look at both forms of these cardiovascular exercises and discuss them further.

Benefits of Walking
Walking plays an essential part in cardiovascular health and weight loss. It is a great exercise for those with health problems or those who are just beginning to workout and can also be performed by most levels of physical fitness and by all ages. Walking can take various forms including hiking, pole walking and power walking (brisk walking). Another huge benefit of walking is the level of impact it has on the body, which is minimal when compared to running. If you have any knee or hip issues, then walking is a much better choice for a cardio exercise to include in your routine. Its much less intense and jarring than running, which results in a very high amount of impact on your lower body. Also, some people just hate running and don’t want to participate in such a high intensity level of exercise. If you are someone who can’t stand even jogging, then walking will be a great choice for cardio.

As much as walking can be a wonderful exercise, it is considered to be a low impact activity because it does not place a lot of strain on your musculoskeletal system. You will therefore not achieve maximum calorie burning and overall weight loss. If you want to get the most out of walking, do it often while increasing your pace each time you walk. Since it looks like you want to briskly walk for 2 hours at a time, the calorie burning effects should be heightened due to the length of time coupled with the intensity level being increased over normal pace walking. The downside of following this routine is the overall time involved. Walking for 2 hours is a long time and you might run into issues down the road if you have a busy schedule or something just comes up in your life and you can’t afford to spend this large chunk of time exercising. Walking is definitely not the best exercise to choose if time is limited. Better cardio exercises to choose for burning lots of calories in a time crunch while also being low impact include the elliptical machine, rowing machine and jumping rope.

Benefits of Running
Running is significant to your health just like walking, but it is considered to be a high intensity activity. It is one of the best forms of cardio exercise you can do if you seriously intend to reduce your weight. This is simply because you will burn more calories in a shorter period of time compared to walking. Running burns an average of 1,000 calories per hour (based on body weight and MPH). This activity can take the form of jogging, track and field sports, sprinting or any other fast paced form of weight-bearing cardio exercise.

While running can give you the best results for your weight loss goals, there is a much higher risk of injury because of the repetitive nature of running. Running is known to be a high impact exercise and this can cause injury to the knee, hip and ankle joints. If you decide to run for your cardio exercise, you can reduce your chance of injury by running on recommended surfaces such as grass, cinders, man-made tracks and woodland trails. Also wear good shoes custom fitted by a shoe expert and always run with correct technique. Make sure to warm up fully before you start running and use a heart monitor to gauge your intensity level.

The Bottom Line
Running and walking are both good exercises to burn body fat and lose weight. You should always choose the best form of exercise that meets your preferences and level of fitness. Before you start any exercise program, make sure to consult with your doctor first. Begin your program slowly and gradually increase your intensity level to prevent any possible negative health concerns. You should also eat a healthy diet in order to succeed in your weight loss program since your diet is much more important for losing body fat than exercise is. Remember the old saying, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet”! So always focus on the foods you’re eating first whenever you wonder why the weight isn’t coming off fast enough.

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