Never sure whether you should be running or walking for maximum heart health? Worried that walking isn’t “real” exercise? Stop worrying – a study undertaken at the Life Science Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that walking with moderate intensity yields better heart health results than does running, assuming that equal amounts of energy are expended. The study results first appeared in the journal, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, a publication of the American Heart Association.
That assumption about equal amounts of energy expended may seem daunting but it isn’t! You just have to walk longer to get the same benefit that you would get if you ran. But if you have bad knees or hips or ankles, or are just starting on a fitness routine, low impact walking is a great way to exercise without hurting your joints.
The researchers used the National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Study (NRW) cohorts to examine the differences that running and walking had on the risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD): hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cholesterol. They examined the health data of approximately 33,000 runners and 16,000 walkers who were followed in the NRW study for more than six years.
While both walking and running improved heart health, the researchers found that walking reduced the risks for these three factors just as much as did running. The benefits were the greatest among those in each group who exercised the longest and most vigorously.
The research was not conclusive as to the impact on the risk for coronary heart disease of walking versus running.