Running or walking: Which is better for your health?

Consumer Reports explains benefits of running, walking

Is running better than walking for your health?

Whether you prefer to work up a sweat with a good run or like a vigorous walk, both runners and walkers reap health benefits compared to couch potatoes.

“It’s important that you choose an exercise that you can do regularly. The main difference is just that running burns calories faster than walking,” said Lauren Friedman, Consumer Reports’ health editor.

Running for a half-hour burns about twice the calories as a half-hour of walking. But if the walker covers the same distance, just over a longer time, he or she will catch up calorie-wise.

“Running and walking are both excellent for heart health. When you run, your heart does work harder than when you walk, but that doesn’t actually mean that runners have better heart health than walkers,” Friedman said.

If runners and walkers burn the same amount of calories every day, both groups have a lower risk of heart disease than inactive people. One study found that walkers may even have a slight advantage over the runners.

Experts say injuries from running are not inevitable. They’re often caused by doing too much too soon.

“It’s best to ease into running and then gradually increase the speed and the distance and the frequency of your runs,” Friedman said.

Walking and running are also good for bone health.

Contrary to what many believe, runners do not suffer from arthritis more than non-runners. The runners’ risk of arthritis is about 15 percent lower than people who don’t exercise at all.

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