A recent study shows that walking may have the same or greater benefit as running in terms of reducing an individual’s risk of heart problems and diabetes, according to a report from the American Heart Association.
There are advantages to walking
The report explains a study led by Paul Williams, Ph.D., which looked at participants in two groups: Individuals from the National Runners’ Health Study and people from the National Walkers’ Health Study. The energy used by walkers was equal to that of runners, and both groups similarly reduced their risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and coronary heart disease through the exercise.
The specific results also showed that walking may have been more beneficial than running. The individuals reported their energy expenditure through walking or running and researchers compared this to their medical records.
While running reduced the risk of hypertension by 4.2 percent in individuals, walking did so by 7.2 percent. In terms of reducing high cholesterol and coronary heart disease, walking had almost double the effectiveness in patients than running. The reduced risk of diabetes was about the same between the two groups.
“Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities,” said Williams, quoted by the AHA.
Running may be more efficient
As they both reduce the risk of heart problems, individuals can choose between walking and running in their daily routines.
A report published by MedPage Today explains the intensity differences between walking and running. Walking is grouped in the “moderate intensity” category while running falls in the “vigorous” group.
Those individuals who run, according to Williams, can expel double the energy that walkers do in an hour. When a runner and a walker cover the same distance, they use equal amounts of energy. However, the time it takes for the runners to do so is vastly less than that of the walkers. This makes running more efficient.
Nonetheless, for many, walking may be the option that works, simply because it isn’t so vigorous. “Walking may be a more sustainable activity for some people when compared to running,” said Williams.
Heart health is a major concern in the United States. According to a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 600,000 Americans die from heart disease yearly. Knowing that activity, whether walking or running, amounts to better cardiovascular health may get more people to put their sneakers on and get moving.