Whether walking or jogging is the best exercise depends on your goals, your schedule and your tastes. If you have done little of either, try walking before you run to build up endurance and to discover its benefits. Your overall health or a pre-existing condition may make jogging inadvisable, or you may find jogging the best way to advance to the next level of fitness.
You can either walk or jog to burn calories. Food is energy, and exercise burns it off. So if your energy in exceeds your energy out, you will gain weight. Both walking and jogging can shift that balance toward weight loss. Harvard Health reports that a 155-pound person walking briskly at 3.5 mph burns 298 calories in an hour versus 596 calories while jogging at 5 mph for an hour. Jogging burns twice as many calories.
When you walk, you are far less prone to injuries than when you jog, Health & Medical Advice points out. Walking is recognized as a low-impact exercise; while jogging is high-impact. The difference on your legs and joints can be marked. In addition, the surface you walk or jog on may be uneven, strewn with obstacles or rocks or wet and slippery. Jogging permits less deliberation in foot placement and may be dangerous under the wrong conditions. However, even if you are on level, clear ground, jogging can present hazards if your hip, knee or ankle joints are affected by arthritis, if you are recovering from an injury or if your muscles and tendons are not strong enough to keep your joints stable.
Your heart can tell you whether jogging or walking is the better exercise for you. If you have a heart condition, hypertension or are simply out of shape, you should talk to your doctor before embarking on an exercise program. Like any muscle, your heart can be damaged or stressed beyond its strength. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises you to include brisk walking for 150 minutes per week, evenly divided over a few days, as part of a cardiac fitness program. After a few weeks, your doctor may say you are ready for jogging, providing the benefit of walking in about half the time. However, conditions like arthritis or knee injuries or a simple desire to spend more time outdoors, walk briskly with a friend or even walk your dog can provide the same calorie burning and cardiac benefits.
If you are in good athletic condition, jogging offers an added benefit. Avid joggers and long-distance runners often report a feeling of exhilaration, a pleasurable sense of well-being sometimes called "the runner's high," while they run and for a long time afterward. This results from certain biochemicals your body releases into your bloodstream during intense exercise. Some runners say the feeling is almost addictive. Many joggers say they simply do not feel their best until they go out for their daily run.