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4 Powerful Benefits of Running vs. Walking (Not all Exercises are Created Equal)

So, you’re on your run… huffing and puffing, wondering “what the heck is the point of all this?”.

And maybe you’re thinking “why can’t I just walk, wouldn’t it accomplish just as much?”.

I remember doing my first 3 mile run in a high school fitness class.

Amid my exhaustion, I wondered — are there really any benefits of running vs. walking?

And so, I know how it feels. You’re pushing your limits, gasping for air wondering what’s the point? Couldn’t I walk, and get similar results?

And studies have found in 2017 — 60 million people in the U.S participated in running. While 110 million people in the U.S were walking for fitness.

Is this because walking is a more convenient exercise alternative? Or do people think you can get the same benefits from walking that you can from running?

As great as the idea sounds. The benefits from running triumph over walking.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • The benefits of walking
  • How walking and exercise affects the body
  • The benefits of running
  • Why running is more beneficial

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Benefits of Walking and What Exercise Does For The Body

I want to start by saying — walking is good for anybody to do.

Specifically for beginners. You should not expect yourself to be running a marathon when you’ve just started exercising.

I mean you’re not Usain Bolt (the fastest man in the world), you’re you.

With that being said. Let’s dive into the benefits of walking and how exercise affects the body.

You Can Do It Anywhere

We can all agree walking is a type of exercise you can do anywhere.

You can take a walk to the mall, with your dog, on a hike or even to your favorite coffee joint.

It’s accessible and available for you to do throughout any day of the week.

As compared to running. I mean how often do you see people running through the mall?


Great for Beginners

This form of exercise is great for beginners. I would dare to say it’s necessary for beginners who want to eventually run regularly.

It’s versatile — you can alternate how you do your walks easily.

You could decide to walk uphill, downhill or even do speed walking.

It offers a great way to slowly progress further and further until you’re ready to start running.

How Does Walking and Exercise Affect The Body?

Let’s take a look at some benefits of walking and exercise in general:

  • Burns calories — as you’re body adjusts to movements and speed, it uses more calories for energy.
  • Reduces risk of stroke and heart disease — increasing your heart rate and exercising can reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, slow the clogging of your arteries. And help you stay at a healthy body weight.
  • Improves endurance and strength — as you increase your cardiovascular health. And engage your muscles. You’ll begin to gain strength and endurance.
  • Increases heart and lung health — exercise forces your heart and lungs to work harder to provide oxygen for your body and muscles demand. Making them stronger.
  • Boosts energy — exercising helps with oxygen circulation throughout your body. This allows you to function better and use your energy more efficiently.
  • Can extend your life expectancy — the increase in cardiovascular health, and muscle use can result in a longer life expectancy.
  • Can improve your mood — exercise has been shown to release endorphins (a brain chemical that helps relieve pain and stress). Often referred to as the “runners high”.
  • Can help clear your mind — exercise is a great way to get out of your head and into your body. Forcing you to focus on the task at hand rather than being stuck in your head.
  • Increase immunity — A study with over 1000 men and women found that people who walked 20 minutes a day at least 5 days a week experienced 43% fewer sick days. Compared to those who only exercised once a week or less.

Running and How It Affects the Body

Running is something you should be striving towards in the long run.

It offers the same benefits of walking and more.

So, let’s talk about it.


Running is a transferable ability or skill — whatever you want to call it.

If you’re able to develop the skill of running. You can transfer that same effort into other tasks or activities.

Whether it’s football, soccer or even basketball.

The development of your cardiovascular health and endurance is something that can be used in most areas of life!

Muscle Engagement

Although walking does engage muscles.

Running does a better job of engaging muscles and making them work harder.

Muscles worked while running include:

  • Hip Flexors
  • Core Muscles
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Calfs
  • Hamstrings

And I mean — have you ever seen somebody with runner’s calves? They’re absolute monsters.

Weight Loss and Heart Health

Ok, now here’s the thing.

A common question asked: “is walking or running better for weight loss?”.

Walking will help with weight loss — and improve your heart health.

But not to the effect that running does.

It’s like comparing cooking with a campfire versus a stocked kitchen. You’ll be able to get the task done, but not as easily or effectively.

(Ok, well maybe running isn’t exactly “easy”)

But I’m sure you get my point. Right?

It’s easier and more effective than walking due to the heart rate comparison.

Running increases your heart rate more than walking does.

This means your heart is working harder during a run compared to walking. In return, it’s a more efficient way of building a healthier heart.

And because of this, it burns more calories. Offering a better solution to more effective weight loss.

Bottom Line: Benefits of Running vs. Walking

You can’t argue walking is good for you.

But as you can see there are more benefits from running vs. walking.

Walking is a great stepping stone for beginners looking to eventually run.

But other than that, running:

  • Burns more calories than walking
  • Is transferable to other activities
  • Engages muscles more effectively
  • Is more efficient in developing a healthier heart

All of this while also offering all of the benefits I talked about earlier with walking and exercise.

To sum it all up — every newbie, beginner or whatever you want to call yourself, should start with walking.

It’s a good way to start striving towards your goal of running regularly.

Running just offers so much more to your body and health.

As long as you work towards improving %1 every day. You’ll be crushing your fitness goals and aspirations in no time.

Focus on the long-term, and take it day by day.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And the human body requires time and consistency to see improvement.

So what are you waiting for?

As much as I appreciate you reading this article — it’s time to take some action. Close your laptop, turn off your phone and put your running shoes on.

And go for a run… Or a walk!

Wherever you are on your fitness journey!

About the Author

Kyle Stevenson

Kyle is a Canadian health and fitness writer. He’s dedicated over 6 years to his own health and fitness. He loves being active, reading, self improvement and spending time with friends and family.

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