Walking a mile is easier on your joints and running a mile burns more calories. Both are healthy fitness choices that boost cardiovascular health, flexibility, bone density and your mood. Combine walking and running in a single, customized practice to suit your fitness level, or step up your game to take off unwanted pounds. Just don't sit there thinking about it.
Weigh the Difference
A half hour of walking at a 17-minute mile pace will burn 120 calories for a 125-pound woman and 149 calories for a 155-pound woman. Pick up the pace to a race walk and you'll use 195 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and 242 calories at 155 pounds. Running a 10-minute mile burns 300 calories per half-hour for a 125-pound runner and 372 calories if you weigh 155 pounds. Harvard Medical School breaks down categories of walking, running and other common exercises and daily activities by weight, pace and difficulty. If your goal is to lose weight quickly, the more vigorous cardio workout will melt off the most calories every time you hit the trail.
Slow But Steady
A comparison of walkers and runners, published in April 2013 by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found that vigorous exercise -- running -- and less-intense walking confer nearly equal health benefits, as long as the energy expended was about the same. Both exercise groups lowered their risks for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. But the walkers had to keep at it longer to achieve the same results. Running is more efficient at delivering benefits in a shorter time but, if time is not an issue, you can match your faster friends in fitness levels step-by-step. Try a time strategy to give yourself more exercise in a tight schedule. Do your half-hour in the morning before work, and then sneak in another 15 or 30 minutes during your lunch break or after work to carve away more calories.
Work Up to It
Running, especially for an hour at a time, may not be an option for people who are not conditioned. If you want to lose weight, but can't handle a lengthy run, walking will get you started. Weight loss may be slower than with running, but you will be building your endurance and physical conditioning. Gradually up the pace to intervals of jogging and walking, shifting to more jogging and then periods of full-out running. Increase running intervals until you are putting in a vigorous daily run -- and then work at improving your speed for even greater cardio benefits and calorie burn.
Mix It Up
You may not wish to run everyday, or you may have joint problems that preclude running. This doesn't mean you can't burn a significant number of calories while you're saving your knees. Try adding hills to your daily walks or grab a backpack and head out for a hike. Hiking cross-country burns 446 calories an hour for a 155-pound person, according to Harvard Medical School -- and a pleasant hike could stretch on for longer than an hour. Alternate trail pounding with sessions in your pool for exercise that's kind to your joints as it melts away unwanted weight. You can burn the same number of calories swimming as hiking -- no special shoes required.
- The Atlantic: Study: Walking Can Be as Good as Running
- Harvard Medical School Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Walking Versus Running for Hypertension, Cholesterol, and Diabetes Mellitus Risk Reduction
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.