Can Walking be Just as Effective as Running for Fat Loss?


walking vs running

We all know running burns a ton of calories, but can walking but just as effective in helping you achieve your weight loss goals?  Not only that, are there other things to consider when deciding which is better suited for you and your goals?  Find out below…

Every now and then I’ll get a question from someone asking if their walking routine is enough to help shed body fat and get them trimmed up.  Some just enjoy a nice walk around the block, but most of the time, their dealing with some sort of knee/lower body injury that prevents the high-impact nature of running.  I can certainly sympathize; I dealt with a bad right knee for a little over a year that prevented nearly any sort of running or biking that extended past 15 minutes.  But I digress, will walking really contribute the same level of effects towards your weight loss goals as running?  Let’s see…

Think of it like this; I leave my house, jump in my car, and set out towards Los Angeles, which sits 100 miles north of San Diego.  If I’m driving at 75 mph, I should be there in about an hour and 20 minutes…we’re pretending there is no such thing as LA traffic in this example.  Now, if I were to drive at 25 mph, I’d still get to L.A. but it’d take a heck of a lot longer.  This is exactly how running vs. walking works for your weight loss goals.

Faster Calorie Burn..No Doubt

For a 165 pound individual, one hour or running will burn roughly 950 calories.  For that same individual, one hour of walking will cut through 305 calories.  As you can see, running is going to get you to your end goal faster, there’s just no way around that.  That said, it’s not as if walking isn’t beneficial, you’re likely just going to have to do three times as much walking to achieve the same weight goals.

nola-woman-running
It’s hard to deny the calorie burning benefits of sprinting…but there’s more to it than that….

You didn’t think I was going to leave things so so simple and in black and white terms, did you?  This is fitness we’re talking about after all…nothing is cut and dry.  There are additional factors to consider.  Running, specifically HIIT, is going to do things for your body that walking doesn’t come close to touching.  For starters, EPOC (post-exercise oxygen consumption) is going to receive a real boost when you engage in some especially tough running workouts.  Boosting your EPOC will help shed more calories and fat throughout the day, meaning that workout you did at 10am is still going to be delivering its positive effects well past lunch time.

Other Considerations

But then on the flip side, you’ve got to consider the long-term consequences of what you’re doing to your body.  A well-respected chiropractor/physical therapist once told me, “Running is a slow death”.  I had been in to see him several times for my above-mentioned right knee issue, and was discussing my workout program with him.  There’s no way around this one – running is bad for your joints.  The repetitive impacts that your body must absorb is going to slowly but surely break down cartilage in your joints, leaving you less mobile and in more pain as you age.  So from this standpoint, walking certainly has an edge on running, in that it’s going to help save your joints from the pounding that running puts them through.

At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to what is right for you.  If you really love walking, I say go for it.  Just try to bump it up a little, include a little longer walk in your routine every few days, and consider throwing in some additional activity to really spike your caloric burn.  If on the other hand, you enjoy running, consider shifting from those long, slow runs, to short, intense, and explosive HIIT sessions.  Not only will this help you burn more calories overall, since you’ll be running for less overall time, you’ll save your knees from extended pounding, as well as free up time for other activities.

Remember, fitness isn’t black and white, and there isn’t one clear-cut answer to your question.  Get in tune with your body, understand what works and what doesn’t, and at the end of the day, always do what is most comfortable and best for you and your goals.

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