Walking, Jogging, or Running – What’s Best for Your Health?

Walking, jogging, and running are all cardiovascular activities. They increase the heartbeat and breathing. You might be at a loss as to what to choose to keep fit. All three exercises can help you control your weight and improve your heart and mental health.


So, which should you choose? Let’s look at some considerations to help you decide.


Injury and damage to joints

Running and jogging can damage your joints, but walking is gentler on your joints, particularly the knees. Walking also reduces the risk of injury. When walking, you move your bodyweight gently from one foot to the other. By contrast, when running or jogging, you push all your body weight on to one foot with force as you land on the ground. 


A study by researchers affiliated to the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Institutes of Health at Bethesda, Maryland, USA, concluded that the risk of injury in young men who run or jog is 25 percent higher than for those who walk. The study, published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, further established that when you run, you exert pressure on your joints that’s 2.5 times your body weight. Walking, by contrast, exerts a force 1.2 times your body weight.


Overall, more than 50 percent of runners suffer some injury, whereas only about 1 percent of walkers are injured. Moreover, you’re more likely to trip and fall when running than when walking.


A study by researchers associated with the Department of Public Health of Japan’s Hokkaido University concluded that regular walking might improve longevity in elderly men. The study, published in 2015, indicated that the findings apply regardless of the men’s lifestyle, medical status, or body mass index (BMI).


Jogging too, carries longevity benefits. An investigation, Longevity in Male and Female Joggers: The Copenhagen City Heart Study, connected both male and female joggers to longer lives than non-joggers. The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology of April 1, 2013.


Heart rate and heart disease

When you jog or run, your heart rate rises to around 120-130 beats a minute. Walking does its bit too. When you walk at a brisk rate of about 100 steps per minute, you raise your heartbeat to about 100 beats per minute. Therefore, running, jogging, and walking all improve your fitness level. 


Nevertheless, there’s a caution about running. In an observational study that tracked over 52,000 people for 30 years, researchers found that the death risk for runners was 19 percent lower than that of non-runners. However, the benefits declined for those who ran faster than eight miles an hour or further than 20 miles a week. This is certainly not a case of the more the better.


According to this study published in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, runners benefited if they ran 19 miles a week at six to seven miles an hour. More than this and the risk of death equaled that of sedentary people.


There’s more. Research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, found that heart disease went down by 9.3 percent in walkers, but by only 4.5 percent in runners. In addition, risks for first-time hypertension and high cholesterol were lowered more by walking than running.


Weight loss

Joggers and runners lose more weight, and faster, than walkers do. A study by Human Performance Laboratory, Appalachian State University, North Carolina Research Campus, Kannapolis, USA, concluded that vigorous activity increases metabolic rate and burns more calories than less intense exercise. You thus lose more weight per hour of exercise when running and jogging than when walking. However, you need to consider the other factors mentioned here. 


Bottom line

Running and jogging deliver more benefits per hour of work than walking. However, you need to take into account the risks of injury that running and jogging present. Also, ask yourself if you’re able to sustain a running and jogging regimen to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for health. For adults aged 18 to 64 years, WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread over the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises. Alternatively, you could engage in an equivalent mixture of a moderate and vigorous-intensity workout.


The decision is yours, depending on your health, age, weight, and interest. If so inclined, you could run or jog for say, two days a week, and walk on the other days.

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