It seems like it is the American way to believe that “more is better” and exercise is often no different; the more you sweat the better-right? Maybe not. Between running and walking, even brisk walking, running produces the most intense work out and it is easy to understand why we would think that it was better to run than to walk.
A new study suggests that running is no better than walking, specifically brisk walking, when it comes to reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. According to Paul Williams, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., the distance that you walk or run is more important than the intensity of the exercise.
“Both of these activities reduce risk factors, and if you expend the same amount of energy you get the same benefit,” Williams said. The key was the more people walked or ran each week, the more their health improved, he said.
The findings suggest “there is now some choice in the exercise you want to do,” he said. Some people find running more convenient, others prefer walking, especially people just starting to exercise, he noted.
The advantage of running is you can cover twice as much ground in the same amount of time as you would walking, Williams pointed out.
Williams is referring to brisk walking, however. “Walking for exercise. It’s not a mosey kind of thing, but actually walking for exercise,” he explained.
For the study, published online April 4 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Williams and Dr. Paul Thompson, a cardiologist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, collected data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study. More than 33,000 runners and nearly 16,000 walkers were involved.
The runners and walkers were 18 to 80 years old, but mostly in their 40s and 50s, the study authors noted.
Over six years, both running and walking led to similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, and perhaps even heart disease, the researchers found.