Running vs. Walking: Which is better for your health?


Why run when you can walk? It is a common question for anyone looking to improve their fitness. While both running and walking are excellent forms of exercise, they each offer unique benefits. This article looks at how running and walking affect your health. It compares the pros and cons of each to help you choose which one might be better for you.

The Benefits of Running

  1. Cardiovascular Health

Running is known for its cardiovascular benefits. Studies show that running for just five to ten minutes a day at a moderate pace (around six mph) can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and all-cause mortality. Regular runners enjoy better heart health, lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol levels.

  1. Mental Well-Being

Running is not just good for your body but it is great for your mind too. According to Cody Mooney, director of performance at Pliability, running releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. This “runner’s high” can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

  1. Weight Loss and Calorie Burning

If weight loss is your goal, running is highly effective. On average, running burns more calories than walking. Depending on your speed and body weight, running can burn between 280 and 520 calories per hour, compared to 100 to 200 calories burned by brisk walking.

  1. Social Benefits

Running can be social too. Joining a running club or group helps you meet people and stay motivated. Running with others is fun and less scary than working out alone at the gym.

  1. Quick Adaptation

Humans are naturally built to run. Running coach Kosta Telegadas points out that most people can adapt to running relatively quickly, both physically and psychologically. This adaptability makes it easier for individuals to set and achieve running goals, such as completing a marathon.

The Benefits of Walking

  1. Accessibility and Low Impact

Walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise. It requires no special equipment, and you can do it almost anywhere. Walking is also low-impact, making it easier on your joints compared to running. This is particularly important for individuals with knee, shin, or ankle issues.

  1. Heart Health

Walking is an excellent cardiovascular exercise. A Harvard study found that walking significantly boosts heart rate and contributes to better heart health. Even walking at a moderate pace for just two hours a week can improve overall health and well-being.

  1. Weight Management

While walking burns fewer calories than running, it is still effective for weight management, especially when combined with a healthy diet. Walking for 30 minutes a day can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight gain.

  1. Mental Health

Like running, walking also benefits mental health. Walking in nature, in particular, can reduce stress and improve mood. The simplicity of walking makes it a great way to clear your mind and enjoy some peaceful time outdoors.

  1. Easy to Start

Walking is an excellent choice for those new to exercise or returning after an injury. Its low-impact nature means it carries a lower risk of injury, and it is easier to incorporate into daily routines without needing a structured warm-up.

Calorie Comparison

The number of calories burned during exercise depends on several factors, including your weight, speed, and the intensity of the activity. Here is a quick comparison:

  • Running: Burns approximately 280 to 520 calories per hour.
  • Walking: Burns approximately 100 to 200 calories per hour.

While running burns more calories in a shorter period, walking can still contribute significantly to weight loss and fitness, especially when done regularly.

Equipment Needed

  • Running

To start running, you do not need much gear. However, investing in a good pair of running shoes is important to prevent injuries. As you get more into running, you might also consider purchasing comfortable running clothes, a hat, sunglasses, a smartwatch, and hydration gear.

  • Walking

Walking requires even less equipment. A comfortable pair of walking shoes is all you need to start. If you plan to walk long distances or hike, you might want additional gear such as a rucksack and walking poles.

Which Is Better?


  • Pros: Burns more calories, improves cardiovascular health quickly, boosts mood through endorphins, can be a social activity.
  • Cons: Higher impact on joints, higher risk of injury, requires a proper warm-up.


  • Pros: Low impact, accessible to most people, easy to incorporate into daily life, still offers significant health benefits.
  • Cons: Burns fewer calories compared to running, can be time-consuming for similar calorie expenditure.

Expert Opinions

Experts like Cody Mooney and Kosta Telegadas emphasize the importance of choosing an exercise that fits your lifestyle and health goals. Mooney highlights the mental health benefits of running, while Telegadas points out that walking is ideal for those looking for a low-impact activity.


Both running and walking are great for your health. The best choice depends on what you need and like. If you want a tough workout that quickly boosts heart health and burns more calories, go for running. But if you want a gentle, easy exercise that fits into your day, walking is a great option.

The most important thing is to stay active and find an exercise you enjoy and can keep doing. Whether you choose running or walking, both will help make you healthier and happier.

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