7 Ways Walking Can Be Better For You Than Running
Jogging is generally accepted as being super good for your health, and it's earned that reputation. But while some people swear by their daily run, it definitely isn't for everyone. And let's face it; if you don't actually like running, it's harder to make it a regular addition to your weekly routine. Enter: walking. Turns out that, in certain contexts walking can actually be better for you than running — and if that means you'll make a note to get your steps in more often, all the better.
Science has shown that regularly walking can be just as impactful on both your mental and physical health as regularly running. What's more, as the American Heart Association reported in 2017, one study discovered briskly walking was just as effective as jogging when it comes to lowering your risk of certain factors that cause heart disease and stroke.
So, despite all the hype from avid runners, some experts say that walking can actually be better for you than going for a run. From being better for your joints to being an easier addition to your schedule, here are seven reasons to opt for a walk, rather than a run, and the science behind why it's effective.
1. It's More Convenient
Some of us with busy work schedules may not always have the freedom to block out time to hit the gym and run, but walking is something that can be done virtually anywhere, with little preparation. "Walking allows you to exercise when it's most convenient with similar health benefits," Stephanie Blozy, an expert in exercise science and the owner of Fleet Feet of West Hartford, CT, tells Bustle. "When you go for a walk, you sweat less than you would if you were running. This allows you to fit a thirty minute walk in at lunch [...] without having to jump in the shower immediately after."
2. Too Much Running Can Actually Hurt Your Heart Over Time
One of the main benefits of running is that it can boost your cardiovascular health. However, depending on the individual, running can cause more harm to your heart than good at a certain point. "It’s well known that running gets your heart rate higher, which for some people, is a plus. Though for anyone who has a history of cardiac disease, this may not be ideal," Natalie Lovitz, PT, DPT, and Clinical Director of Professional Physical Therapy in New York, NY, tells Bustle.
Lovitz adds that some studies have indicated "long distance running can release certain proteins that are damaging to the heart in the long run." So, like most things, moderation is key — which means switching up your jog to a walk on the reg could help you stay healthier.
3. Walking Is Easier On Your Joints
Both Blozy and Lovitz agree that walking is much easier on your joints than running, so if you are dealing with pain or stiffness, going for a low-impact stroll is almost certainly better for your health. "Running can be hard on joints, as it applies a large amount of pressure on the knees, hips, and ankles. If you need to give your joints a little TLC [...] walking is the perfect alternative," says Blozy.
Lovitz adds that while walking is "certainly less stressful on the body’s musculoskeletal system" than running, it still causes your brain to release mood-boosting endorphins, AKA one of the biggest benefits of exercise.
4. Walking Allows You To Be Out In Nature
Walking gives you the freedom to explore and spend time in nature — without having to look down at the ground so you don't trip. "If you've been wanting to check out a national park or go for a hike, walking is the best route. Instead of breezing through an area, walking allows you to stop and check out all of nature's breathtaking views," explains Blozy.
According to a 2015 article from The New York Times, studies have shown walking in nature can have a positive impact on your mental health — making you feel happier, more attentive, and less stressed. If you're tired of your regular running route, consider hitting the hiking trails for a mindful walk so you can glean both the benefits of exercise and nature.
5. It Can Also Boost Your Immune System
Exercising in moderation — including going on twenty to thirty minute-long walks — has been shown to strengthen your immune system, and stave off sickness. But, research has shown high-intensity activities like long distance running can actually have the opposite effect, and worsen your immune system: Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease specialist, told Runner's World in 2011 that, "The more intense the run, the higher the cortisol level [...] We know it can be high enough to impair the immune system for up to three days following a race or a strenuous workout."
Of course, this isn't to say running is bad for your immune system, but rather, striking the balance between strenuous exercise and low-impact exercise like walking is important.
6. It Gives You A Chance To Catch Up With Friends
"Have you ever tried to run with a friend and talk at the same time? It's hard to do, especially when you're out of breath," says Blozy, adding that because walking is low-intensity, "it's the perfect time to catch up with friends and family while staying active."
Not to mention, working out with a friend is good for your health: NBC News reported in 2017 exercising with a workout buddy or in a group setting has been proven to increase the release of endorphins, and is a great motivator to stick with your workout.
7. Walking Is Easier To Maintain
Blozy says, "Walking is something mostly any one can do, so it's the perfect entry level exercise that helps people get into the habit and routine of moving — which is half the battle!" Avoiding burnout when it comes to exercising can be tough to navigate, but walking is a more sustainable way to remain active than running is for a majority of people.
At the end of the day, the type of exercise that's best for you is the one that you love doing the most, so never feel like you're slacking because you walk the Turkey Trot. It may not get the same cred that running does, but walking boasts similar health benefits, and so much more.