People often think in order to see major changes in weight or improvements in health they need to take up running or jump right into some sort of vigorous activity. Depending on your fitness goals, limitations, and exercise experience, this may not be the answer for you. If vigorous activity is not for you, consider walking. It’s a great activity. If done consistently for the recommended duration, walking can be healthier than its more vigorous counterpart: running.
Impact on joints
Most people think running is the obvious answer to see quick results since its higher intensity will ultimately burn more calories over a shorter period. The major downfall of running is that it is a higher-impact activity that can cause stress to knees, hips, and vertebrae.
If you are predisposed to chronic pain in any of these areas, then you are likely to aggravate this pain. That could force you to curb your exercise routine for an extended period of time. Running may be a great option if you want to see quick results. But you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the increased risk of being sidelined by chronic pain.
Walking, given the right intensity and duration, can burn just as many calories as running while providing less impact on joints. The key to seeing success with a walking program is that you have to dedicate more time to see the same results as running. Even a brisk walk does not burn the same number of calories as a moderate jog. However, the risk for injury is far less when you walk and the overall experience can be more mindful and peaceful than running.
Choose what’s best for you
You should consult your physician to ensure you are healthy enough to begin an exercise program. You have to weigh the pros and cons of walking for wellness versus running and how each aligns with your goals, physical limitations, and prior exercise experience. Keep in mind that anytime you are able to participate in regular physical activity, whether it’s running or walking, you are bettering your health.
Are you a walker? Share your stories about when you started, where you walk, or the health benefits you’ve seen in the comments below!