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Walking vs. Running for Weight Loss

By Crystal Welch

Both walking and running can help you improve your health in a variety of ways. They both can assist you in lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and your risks of numerous health ailments, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Both can burn calories, provide a sense of euphoria, be a natural appetite suppressant and be a sleep aid. The choice is yours. Increase your weight loss by combining exercise with cutting calories.

Considerations

An item of concern when considering walking or running for weight loss involves your footwear. Be certain you choose the proper footwear to avoid injury or discomfort. The correct pair of shoes can be the determining factor in whether you stay with your exercise program or not, notes the American Heart Association.

Significance

The American Heart Association states that walking plays a significant part in cardiovascular health and weight loss. It has the lowest drop-out rate of all physical activities due to its convenience, ease of participation and low cost. Many doctors recommend walking as the choice of activity for elderly individuals or those used to a sedentary lifestyle.

Running is significant to your cardiovascular health and body fat level. It is known to increase your blood pathways' health, according to the American Heart Association. The more you run, the less body fat you carry. The American Heart Association recommends you exercise at least 75 minutes weekly when you choose running for weight loss.

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Types

Walking can take various forms during your weight-loss program. To gain cardiovascular benefits (and increase your chances of weight loss), you need to walk at no less than a moderately brisk pace, advises the American Heart Association. Types of walking include hiking, speed (power walking) and pole walking. Strolling may be best for someone who has previously been sedentary.

Running can be sprinting (short, fast spurts), jogging, track and field sports, or other more fast-paced methods of weight-bearing exercises.

Benefits

Walking is considered a low-impact activity, because it does not place much strain on your musculoskeletal system, notes the Mayo Clinic. Walking can be done by most levels of physical fitness and ages. It is safe, simple, a natural form of movement, easy to do, can be done at your own pace and can provide a way to socialize with others. It also does not involve practice. Walking a moderately brisk pace can burn 280 calories per hour.

Running is considered a high-intensity aerobic activity, according to the American Heart Association. It can be used as a training tool. You burn more calories in a shorter time than when walking. According to Vanderbilt University, running can be “most effective way to lose weight, as it triggers a loss of body fat and a proportional increase of lean tissue.” Running burns an average of 100 calories per mile, or 1,000 calories per hour, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Caution

As with any exercise program, consult with your health care provider before beginning any program. This is particularly true if you have been sedentary for any extended period of time. Start your program slowly and gradually increase your duration and intensity to avoid any potential negative health concerns, advises the Mayo Clinic.

To succeed with any weight loss program, you need to eat a healthy diet. Regardless of your level physical activity, if you eat a calorie-rich diet high in harmful fats and junk foods, your purpose will be defeated.

Remember to properly warm up and cool down before and after your exercise program to avoid injury.

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