The running vs. walking debate

2016-02-25 06:00

THERE are many different theories when it comes to the running vs. walking for health and weight loss. We consulted two experts to get answers.

The age-old debate on whether walking or running offers the most benefits remains an active discussion among fitness fans.

Determine your goal

Health24’s fitness and biokinetics expert, Habib Noorbhai, explains that both running and walking have a number of physical and mental health benefits, but the one form might be better suited to one individual’s goals than the other.

Brisk walking, for example, might unlock more health benefits for someone with heart disease or asthma, while running may be best for someone wanting to lose weight, he explains.

Weight loss is about burning energy

Scientist and Registered Biokineticist, David-John Hume agrees with Noorbhai, saying that “running should take the lead for those wanting to prioritise weight management”.

He highlights the findings from a 2013 study which observed the weight management of 15 237 walkers and 32 215 runners.

“The study showed that runners were not only leaner than the walkers at the outset of the project, but that they were better able to maintain their body mass and waistlines over 6.2 years of follow-up.” [1]

This could be due to the fact that running is a better regulator of the brain’s appetite response, which means that you are more likely to be a disciplined eater following a short run than after a long walk [2], Hume explains.

Noorbhai concurs, saying that “running generally burns more energy than walking and therefore it is a good form of exercise for people wanting to lose weight”.

Don’t overdo it

However, this doesn’t mean that everybody wanting to lose weight must run like the wind because, in some cases sprinting might defeat the purpose and do more harm than good, Noorbhai cautions.

“If you run too fast, you might not burn as much fat due to the fact that it might be hard to sustain the pace long enough to burn fat. Sprinting might also do damage to the bones and joints in some people.”

Walking also packed with health benefits

“Data from the National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Study show that walkers and runners who expend the same amount of energy reap near-identical health benefits, including a reduced risk of hypertension, elevated cholesterol and diabetes, and cardiovascular events,” encourages Hume.

- Health 24

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