Walking or running? Weight loss, heart health, which walk is best?

Walking and running are two forms of exercise suitable for weight loss and heart health. Benefits and risks depend on a person’s goals and current level of health and fitness. Although both activities burn calories, lose weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, there is much debate about which is better. Read on to learn more about the benefits and risks.

Benefits of Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is also known simply as cardio. It often engages the major muscle groups of the body, makes the heart pump faster, and increases respiratory rate. Walking and running are two types of cardio.

Cardio exercises offer many health benefits, including:

burn calories and fat to lose weight
reduce cholesterol levels
help prevent or manage health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease
strengthen the heart
improve sleep habits
reduce stress
increase stamina
improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression
increase bone density
strengthen the immune system.

A study looked at the benefits of exercise on mental health and found that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, was enough to reduce anxiety and depression, in addition to its other benefits for health.

What’s the best way to burn calories?

Walking and running have similar health benefits, but running is more effective at burning calories than walking. A person weighing 73kg burns about 15.1 calories per minute while running. In contrast, a person of the same weight burns about 8.7 calories per minute while walking.

The number of calories a person burns while walking and running depends on several factors, including the following

body weight
the duration of the exercise
activity intensity
Running burns more calories per minute than walking. However, walkers can burn the same number of calories doing it longer.

However, depending on a person’s goals, walking and running can provide the same benefits.

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Which is best for heart health?

Both walking and running are good for losing weight, boosting mental health, and improving overall health. A study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology concluded that walking and running reduced the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and diabetes. However, the study did not directly look at whether walking or running could benefit heart health and cardio. Another report from the American Heart Association indicates that brisk walking, done at least 150 minutes per week, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Walking or running to reduce belly fat

Studies have shown that storing a lot of belly fat is associated with the risk of diseasesTrusted Source, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Whether you choose walking or running, l exercise can help a person reduce belly fat. A study found that regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, reduced belly fat and helped people manage obesity. Walking and running burn calories in the body, but also reduce belly fat, depending on the intensity of the exercise.

However, running can help reduce belly fat more effectively. A study in 27 middle-aged women with obesity found that those who participated in high-intensity exercise training lost significantly more belly fat than those who did low-intensity exercise or who haven’t exercised for 16 weeks.

Scientists need to do more research comparing the effects of walking and running on reducing belly fat. For example, a 2018 review found that low-intensity exercise was more effective at reducing abdominal fat, while high-intensity training had a greater effect on decreasing overall body fat. People who want to lose belly fat should consider talking to their doctor, who can help them determine the best exercise program and diet for their needs.

Benefits and risks

While running and walking offer various health benefits, including maintaining a healthy weight and improving heart health, they can also come with risks. The risk of injury is higher with running than with walking. Indeed, running is of a higher intensity and puts more strain on the body, especially the joints.
According to one study, walkers have a lower risk of injury, while runners have a high risk.

Some of the most common injuries associated with running include:

broken bones
soft tissue injuries
shin syndrome.

For runners, it is essential to take steps to reduce the risk of running-related injuries. If a person is concerned about injury while exercising, they may consider walking, which offers the same health benefits as running, but with a reduced risk of injury. People with arthritis, heart disease, or other chronic health conditions who are considering running should check with their doctor first.


Depending on individual goals, walking and running are appropriate forms of exercise. Both can help people maintain a moderate weight and improve heart health, mental health, and more.
Whatever form of exercise a person chooses, they will get positive results if they participate in it regularly. For people who are just starting to get in shape, walking may be a more appropriate choice, as it involves low to moderate intensity. However, for people whose goal is to burn more calories, running may be more suitable.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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