A six-year study of around 50,000 runners and walkers has found that both activities have significant health benefits when the same level of energy is used.1
In terms of reducing the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, the study identified that walking for longer periods of time was just as beneficial as running for shorter periods - as long as the amount of energy used was roughly the same.
There are a few points to consider:
- Walking needs to be brisk not leisurely in order to obtain the health benefits,
- You should experience a raised heart rate and a mild sweat if you are exercising at moderate intensity.
- Adults should do around two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, each week.
- If you want to stay fit through walking then try using a pedometer and walk at least 10,000 steps a day.
This is great news for people who either don't enjoy running or who find running difficult - it means that the most basic aerobic activity of all - a brisk walk - is right up there with the best of them in terms of health-boosting lifestyles.
1. Williams PT, Thompson PD. Walking Versus Running for Hypertension, Cholesterol, and Diabetes Mellitus Risk Reduction. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. Published online April 4 2013