If you burn as many calories in your walking workouts as your buddies do running, you are reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol just as much as they are. That is the finding from a study comparing the 33,060 runners in the National Runners' Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers' Health Study, published in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
This study compared energy expended. Walkers take longer to expend the same number of calories as runners do in a workout. It's the distance and your weight that are the biggest factors, with speed adding a little boost for the runners. But walkers can burn as many calories as many runners do each day. If they do, the study suggests that they get just as great of a reduction in their health risks. Walking vs. Running Calories
Here is how the two activities compared in reducing risks:
- First-time hypertension: Running 4.2%. Walking 7.2%
- First-time high cholesterol: Running 4.3% Walking 7%.
- First-time diabetes: Running 12.1% Walking 12.3%
- Coronary heart disease: Running 4.5% Walking 9.3%
The study's conclusion is: "Equivalent energy expenditures by moderate (walking) and vigorous (running) exercise produced similar risk reductions for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and possibly CHD."
If you love running, keep running. If you prefer walking, keep walking. If you need to get started doing any exercise, lace up those shoes and just get moving!
How to Start Walking
Paul T. Williams, Paul D. Thompson. "Walking Versus Running for Hypertension, Cholesterol, and Diabetes Mellitus Risk Reduction." Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2013; first published on April 4 2013 as doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300878.
Photo © Wendy Bumgardner