by Lisa J. Lehr
Looking for the ideal exercise? Whether you’re still trying to make good on a New Year’s resolution, thinking about the upcoming swimsuit season, or looking for a way to add variety to your workout routine, walking and running rise to the top of the list of possible choices.
For overall fitness, nothing beats walking and running. You need no expensive equipment; you don’t have to join a club or travel to a special place; you can do it at pretty much any time of day or year.
But which is better? Well, it depends. Here are the pluses and minuses of both.
- burns more calories than walking in the same amount of time—because you travel farther running than walking. Mile for mile, however, the calories burned are the same. That’s because carrying your weight over a given distance burns the same number of calories regardless of speed.
- raises your heart rate more than walking.
- strengthens your bones more than walking because of the strain it creates.
- strengthens your muscles more than walking—but only if you’re actually running, not jogging. In that sense, power walking (walking as fast as you can without breaking into a jog) is actually more effective than slow running.
- is more likely to cause injury. When running, you impact (hit the ground) with three times your body weight on each step. Especially for people who are overweight, out of shape, or pregnant, the strain on the knees, hips, and ankles can be a problem. If you’re going to begin a running program, start slowly and gradually increase your distance and/or frequency.
- may be better for fat burning. According to Dr. Dean Ornish, a clinical professor of medicine at UC San Francisco: “When you run a mile, you’re burning mostly sugar, or carbohydrates, which is how your body gives you fast energy in bursts. When you walk a mile, it gives your metabolism time to switch from burning carbohydrates to burning fat.”
- is easier on your joints. Walking causes an impact of only 1.5 times your body weight, yet is still a weight-bearing exercise that will prevent bone loss.
- is easier to fit into many people’s schedules. You can do it on your lunch hour at work; you may need to change only your shoes and probably won’t need to shower afterward.
- has a benefit if you live in the city and have to stop at traffic signals: the sudden stop from a running pace can be dangerous for your heart. It’s much safer to stop from a walk. If you have to stop at a light while running, try jogging in place.
- allows you to enjoy the scenery more than running, which in turn may keep you from burning out as soon.
I’m going to add a reminder to vary your terrain to avoid one-sided leg pain, and try to disconnect from your iPod. We live in a friendly community full of natural beauty. Say hello to the neighbors you pass; listen to the frogs croak and the birds chirp; be alert to approaching cars. So…walking or running? It’s really a matter of what works best for you. Walk, run, or do something else. Just do it.
Lisa J. Lehr is a writer, copywriter, and fitness enthusiast living in Grass Valley. She can help you promote your business with a full range of online and offline marketing pieces. A member of Empire Toastmasters, she’s available to speak to your business or professional group. Visit her website www.justrightcopy.com for more information, opt in for a message series, and receive a free Marketing Guide.
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