Walking Vs. Running – Which one Is Better For Weight Loss?

walking for weight loss

“Running, or Walking, for weight loss?”

Whenever I get asked this, the answer is always apparent to me. It’s running, of course.

But that doesn’t mean that walking has nothing to offer. Walking can benefit your body the same way, and it can be a valuable addition to your workout routine.

In today’s post, I lay out the benefits of running as compared to walking as well as the downsides of both.  The goal is to help you choose the right option.

Let’s get started.

What Burns A Lot of Calories

As a rule of thumb, the harder you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn. That’s why the exercise that burns the most calories is the one that also helps you lose the most weight.

If you run for 25 minutes or walk for an hour, you end up burning roughly the same amount of calories. But if you run for an hour and walk for an hour, running will help you burn more calories. This explains why running is the way to go for weight loss.

But you shouldn’t also disregard the benefits of walking. Let’s first discuss what stand to gain (and lose) from running.

The Benefits of Running

When it comes to weight loss, running takes the gold.  Overall, running will burn drastically more calories than walking.

For example, if you’re 140 pounds, running helps you burn roughly 13 calories per minute, according to the American Council of Exercise. But, when walking, you’ll only burn about seven calories per minute.

Let’s do some math. For a 45-minute run, expect to burn around 550-600 calories compared to roughly 250-300 calories burned walking for 45 minutes. That’s a huge difference.

Why it’s the case shouldn’t be surprising. Running is an intense, highly demanding activity on the body; therefore, it burns more calories per minute.

Of course, don’t take my word for it.

A six-year survey was published in Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory confirms this.

In the study, the researchers examined gathered data from the association and compared weight change and training levels in roughly 50,000 runners and walkers.

The conclusion?

Running was more effective at shedding pounds than walking.

That’s not the whole story.

Running is, undoubtedly, one of the best forms of exercise. Just in case you’re not a regular reader of Runners Blueprint, here are a few benefits pounding the pavement:

  • Improve your cardiovascular health
  • Reduce your risk of heart conditions
  • Strengthens your legs
  • Tones your core
  • Improves bone density, slashing the risk for osteoporosis
  • Aids in proper digestion
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Boosts your brain power
  • Improves your endurance

The Downside Of Running  – Overuse Injuries

Running has a lot to offer, but it’s also a high impact sport that can take a toll on your body. Run long enough, and you’ll, sooner or later, pick up more than a few overuse injuries.

These include:

This is especially the case if you’re a complete beginner doing too much too soon. For this reason, running isn’t the exercise option when you’re out of shape and/or haven’t exercised in a long time.

That’s where walking comes in handy.

runner drinking water

Making The Case For Walking

Although walking is often disregarded as a form of exercise, it still has a lot to offer.

If you’re really out of shape and/or aren’t able to run, walking can still get you to get in shape.  Walking is easier, convenient, and accessible for virtually all fitness levels.  Unlike running, walking is a low impact exercise—so there’s less risk for injury.

What’s more, walking regularly can help regulate your blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and improve cardiovascular health at the same rate as it would if you run.

The only downside is that you’ll have to walk for a much longer time to reap the same benefits as a run.

How To Get The Most Out Of Walking?

To get the most out of walking, try power walking four to five times a week for 45 to 60 minutes. You should also try keeping a pace of 4 to 5 miles per hour. If this is too fast, start at a pace that feels suitable and slowly pick up your speed as you get fitter.

As a rough guideline, shoot for 10,000 steps a day. This works out to about five miles of walking a day.  Research shows that this is the ideal step volume to shoot for, especially when looking to lose weight.

Here are a few suggestions to help you increase your daily step count:

  • Take regular walking breaks during a workout—ideally every 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Walk during your lunch break
  • Park further from your work, shop, university, then walk all the way.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

If you want to make your walks more challenging (as well as burn more calories), try adding a few bodyweight exercises every now and there. Here are my favorites:

  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Planks
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees
  • Jumping jacks
  • Sit-ups

The Takeaway

So which one is right for you? Running or walking for weight loss?

The truth is, both walking and running are fantastic cardio exercises that provide a lot of fitness and health benefits.

Your decision depends completely on your fitness and health goals.

If you’re already in good shape and want to burn more calories or lose pounds fast, running is the way to go. Feel free to add variations to avoid boredom.

But if you can’t run a mile, walking is a better choice as it offers numerous benefits, some of which I’ve already mentioned.

If you’re just a beginner, are prone to injury, or can’t run more than a few minutes without doubling over, then go with walking. Just keep in mind that the lower your workout intensity, the fewer calories you’ll expend—

Regardless of your choice, remember to stick to it. As a general rule, get in 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise four to five times a week.

Don’t Forget Your Diet

When you’re busy trying to find an answer to the Walking Vs. Running debate for running, don’t forget your diet.

If your final goal is to shed pounds, chances are neither walking nor running alone can help make that goal a reality.

The truth is, your daily food choices can either make or break your weight loss resolution.

Eat the right things at the right times, and you’ll lose weight fast.

Eat crappy food or more than you should, then no amount of exercise can help you out-walk nor out-run the pounds.