Cardio is a crucial part of physical training and exercise, especially if weight loss is your goal. But have you ever asked, “Is running better than walking for weight loss?”.
Well, according to an article in the journal ‘Medicine ; Science in Sports ; Exercise’, running was found to produce better weight loss results than walking.
YES, running is better than walking for weight loss! Running burns more calories than walking, depletes your muscle glycogen, and raises your metabolism. All of that leads to faster and more significant weight loss. Still, you should start with walking and gradually move up to running. You’ll prevent injuries by letting your muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system adapt to running gradually.
Keep on reading as we take a closer look at why running is a much more efficient form of exercise for losing weight.
Let’s get started!
First and foremost, let’s all get on the same page about the differences between walking and running. Sure, that might seem like a very obvious comparison. But we must never forget that physical activity is different for each person depending on their fitness levels.
Walking is a low-impact and low-intensity form of cardio that’s much easier on your joints. It’s an excellent place to start with on your fitness journey, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular exercise.
Even though running involves similar movements and the use of the same muscles, it’s a much higher intensity activity. That also means it is a high-impact form of exercise that can be more challenging on your joints.
Besides those differences, running is also a much more efficient exercise between the two when it comes to weight loss.
Let’s see why.
As mentioned earlier, running is better than walking for weight loss because of three primary reasons: running burns more calories, depletes muscle glycogen, and raises your metabolism.
Suppose you were to run for a half-hour one day and walk for the same amount of time the next.
The number of calories that you burn during those two sessions would be very different. Because running happens at a higher intensity than walking, your body must generate a lot more energy to do it. That higher energy demand leads to a more significant amount of calories burned.
Remember: to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. So, spending an hour running will do a much better job at that than just walking for the same amount of time.
Your body is a well-engineered machine that stores energy in several different forms. One of them is in the form of glycogen that’s stored inside all of your muscles which provides quick energy whenever needed.
When it comes to exercising for weight loss, depleting that muscle glycogen (i.e. using that stored energy) is very helpful for shedding pounds. That’s because your body will then channel a lot more of the nutrients you eat towards replenishing that glycogen instead of letting it go to your fat cells.
That is a simplified explanation of what goes on in your body, of course. But that’s generally what happens!
Now, here’s the thing about muscle glycogen: low-intensity exercises like walking aren’t very good at using up that stored energy. Instead, you’ll need to do something that places a much higher demand on your muscles, like running or even sprinting!
That’s another reason why running is better for weight loss. It helps your body deplete glycogen stores, which the body will then replenish with more of the nutrients that you eat. When more nutrients go towards your muscles, less of it goes towards your fat cells!
Walking and running both burn calories and raise your metabolism while you’re doing them. However, running also helps you keep your metabolism raised even after you’re done!
Remember: running is a high-intensity form of activity that demands lots of output from your muscles while you’re exercising, especially the ones in the lower half of your body.
You’ll gradually build more of those muscles and strengthen the ones you have, and that in itself also increases your overall metabolism.
A higher metabolism means that your body will be burning fat even as you rest and sleep!
The bottom line here is clear: running helps your body lose more weight in less time. Being a high-intensity form of exercise means that you’ll burn more calories while you’re running. Plus, running raises your metabolism, which means you’re burning fat even when you’re not exercising!
At this point, it’s clear that running is much better than walking for weight loss. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should go out and run as fast as you can this instant!
You have to focus on walking first before you can add running to your exercise plan. That’s especially true if you’ve only just begun on your weight loss journey with little or no prior experience.
Your muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system (i.e. your heart and lungs) aren’t yet used to being challenged. Not only is walking a fantastic way of easing your body into more intense forms of exercise, but it’s also essential!
Suppose you were to start running suddenly. If that’s the case, you might end up pulling a muscle, hurting joints like your knees and ankles, and just running out of stamina far too soon. So, don’t be afraid to start with walking. As you get used to it, you can gradually increase the pace day by day until running starts to become much more sustainable for you!
Whether you’re walking, running, or doing strength training for weight loss, always remember this: everyone starts their weight loss journey at a different point.
So, even though running is the better option for weight loss, you should first get used to walking!