Is Walking or Running Better to Lose Weight
Most people know the quickest way to lose weight is to get your body moving. When your heart gets pumping through cardiovascular exercise, or cardio as it’s known, you give your diet efforts a boost in the right direction. While there are many forms of cardio including swimming, bicycling, aerobics and dance, many people focus on running and walking as the most convenient and cheapest way to start. After all, you only need a pair of running shoes and some decent weather. But which exercise is best to lose weight? Should you concentrate your efforts on running or walking to reach your fitness goals?
This debate is not new. In fact, since both forms of cardio have weight loss benefits and challenges it’s a good idea to understand them so you choose the best one for you.
First let’s quickly discuss the relationship between losing weight and cardio exercise.
When you do some form of aerobic activity your body reaches for its fat stores as the primary source of fuel to work through the activity. When you are moving your body, using oxygen and working up a sweat, your body calls on the fat you have stored first with carbs and protein (muscle) used later. The other beneficial effect of cardio is that it gives your respiratory system a good workout as well.
There are different levels of aerobic activity used to lose weight. These range from high intensity and low intensity. Each level is good and has a purpose based on the individual and their fitness goals. It is widely accepted that moderate intensity, which brings your heart rate to 50-75% of its maximum capacity, appears to burn more actual fat. This is what is often referred to as the “fat burning zone”.
A higher level of intensity which raises your heart rate to 75% or more of its maximum levels can also aid in your goal to lose weight and burn fat. Because intensity is stronger at this level the amount of overall calories burned is higher. The percentage of actual fat burned at this level may be as much or higher than moderate levels of cardio.
So which is better? Running or walking to lose weight?
Let’s discuss walking first.
This is a very low impact activity and most people will start at this level especially if they are very overweight. You need to increase your overall fitness level with a low impact cardio activity first so you avoid injury. It’s best to walk at a brisk pace where you can still carry on a conversation and your heart rate has increased. With walking you can strengthen your muscles, increase your red cells for better oxygen usage in the body, pump up your heart muscle, reduce your levels of stress, and have an overall feeling of well being. And, lose weight.
Running also has similar benefits to lose weight. You can run or jog with moderate to intense levels. Impact to your joints with the jarring motion will be greater so it’s important to gauge your progress and avoid injury. One added benefit of running over walking is that because of its higher impact there is evidence it could reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis as bone density is increased. You can also benefit from added endurance and strength. Another benefit is the time involved. You can burn more calories in less time when you run. In some cases you need to walk twice as far to burn a similar amount.
The type of cardio you choose to lose weight will depend a lot on your current fitness levels. If you are just starting out then walking is where to begin. You can increase this to running as you become more fit. If you’re already in good shape and want a boost in your weight loss efforts, then a running program which includes sprints for the highest intensity could give you the best results to lose weight in the shortest amount of time.