This is a question I’m asked a lot and I think it stems from the confusion around which one really burns the most fat. Don’t get me wrong, walking and running are great ways to get active, but there are certainly pros and cons to both that can be considered when deciding between the two.
Put simply, the harder you work, the more fat you will burn. Fat may make up the greatest percentage of all energy burned from a walk but most people look at calories burnt as opposed to percentages. When we look at it this way, running wins every time.
Walking and running are both part of my workout routine; walking is an everyday thing for me and running is something I incorporate depending on my goals or how I’m feeling at the time. It’s not so much a question of which is better for you, but more so what you are trying to achieve. Your choice should always be aligned with your goals. I personally recommend that your exercise routine should also include some form of resistance activity as the more lean muscle we have, the more efficiently we burn fat but in a two-horse race between walking and running. Here’s what you need to know.
Running takes the cake when:
- Your goal is weight loss – running is great for burning calories.
- You want a harder workout – it gets the lungs pumping.
- You’re training for a running event or want to have a goal that isn’t related to weight (ie. PB’s, distance related goals etc.)
- You want more bang for your buck – running burns more calories in less time than walking.
- You’re chasing the endorphins: there’s nothing quite like that post run feeling.
- You’re stressed: running is such a great way to switch off from everything else that’s going on and get lost in the moment.
With running, think outside the square. Hill sprints or interval efforts will burn more calories than steady state running and is a great way to mix up your training.
Let’s not forget about walking though; walking prevails when:
- You need low impact.
- You’re just getting started: walks interspersed with short bursts of running is a great place to start as you build your fitness.
- You’re just looking to add some incidental exercise into your day. Ditch the car and walk to work, the shops or your local café. Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day.
When it comes to choosing walking or running, choose what works best with your lifestyle and your goals. You can still increase the intensity of walking by adding in hills or ankle weights, or slowly build towards running.