Running vs Walking: Which One is Better?

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You understand the benefits of exercise: toned muscles, lower blood pressure and cholesterol rates, and a decreased chance of developing heart disease and diabetes. But when you want to burn calories, is it better to save time by going for a short run or enjoy the views of your neighborhood by embarking on a long walk? While both options pump up your heart rate, only one stands out when it comes to cutting cals.

Is walking better than running?

Running isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re just entering the exercise scene or want to be gentle on your joints. If you’re looking to burn calories while walking, consider this: A 160-pound person will shed about 100 calories for every mile walked. So, if you’re walking briskly at about 4 mph for 30 minutes, you’ll take off about 200 calories. Looking to lose more? Walk at an incline or carry weights.

Running is obviously more strenuous than walking, but did you know it can also reduce your appetite? In one study, a group was invited to eat as much as they wanted from a buffet after either walking or running. The walkers consumed about 50 calories more than what they burned walking, while the runners took in almost 200 calories less than what they lost while running. So, if you want to eat less, go for a run first. However, also consider that a 160-pound person who runs one mile at the average pace of 6 mph will burn about 120 calories. And for every minute of sprinting at 8.5 mph, you’ll get rid of another 13 calories.

Walking vs. running

Research shows walking and running provide many of the same health benefits, but if you’re looking to bust fat and cut calories (and who isn’t after the holiday season?), lace up for a run around the block or on a treadmill. Even better, work in speed intervals instead of keeping a consistent pace. For runners, this means working in a sprint. If you’d rather stick to walking, consider adding an incline. No matter which pace you choose, you’re cutting more calories and gaining more health benefits than sitting on the couch. Time to get moving!

Emily is a recent graduate and proud Midwesterner who just moved to the big city to start her career in magazine journalism. When she isn't commuting between Brooklyn and Manhattan, she enjoys browsing bookstores for her next read, sipping chai tea lattes at local coffee shops, and playing tourist in the city she always dreamed of living in.