Is Walking The New Running?

Walking? Why would I walk? I don’t even break a sweat.

We’ve all been there before: you’ve decided it’s time to dust off and lace up your running shoes. Summoning the strength to get off the couch and onto the road for a run can be daunting; however, there is always a sense of accomplishment once you’ve finished a challenging run. We’ve been spending all this time channeling our energy into trying to find the motivation to run, but never really ever stopped to ask the question — is running really more effective than walking? We have this perception of running that it is more difficult and much more effective than walking, but now, we are starting to see that walking can also be just as effective.

Despite seeing seemingly every neighbor out jogging on the pavement, running was not always accepted as a key to a healthy life like it is today. Back in the 1960s, people who ran were viewed as “off,” and sometimes even getting arrested for running! Running gradually started to be accepted as a more mainstream practice thanks to a combination of companies such as Nike, marketing running and professional runners such as Steve Prefontaine, who gained celebrity status in the 1970s.

For all the people that are already runners, you can rest assured — running certainly has its fair share of benefits. Running is one of the simplest exercises, yet it is also one of the most effective. The benefits of running are both physical and mental. Running helps to improve overall cardio health as well as helping to decrease stress. The person who swears they always “feel great” after running (and we all know someone like this) might be on to something after all. Massive amounts of endorphins are released after a run, which can help to improve mood.

Recent research has found that walking has nearly as many health advantages as running. The American Heart Association recently discovered that, “mile for mile, brisk walking lowers the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure as much as running does.” Simply getting out and moving, even if it is at a walking pace, has tremendous health benefits. In a country where heart disease is the leading cause of death, walking is quite literally taking a step in the right direction towards a more healthy lifestyle.

One of the main advantages of walking over running is the lowered impact on your joints. Running can put stress on your joints, especially your knees, while walking is considerably more gentle. Additionally, while on a walk, you are able to hold a conversation, whether it be with your spouse, friends, or even a business call. More anecdotally, for most people and especially beginners, walking is an “easier” way to exercise.

Although it may not be as popular as track and field, walking has even made its way into the Olympics. Much like how running exploded into the exercise mainstream in the 1970s, walking is starting to do the same today for similar reasons. It has noted benefits for the heart, an easy way to get outside, and allows you to spend time with the people you love — all while helping to ensure that you have many more healthy years to do so.

Picture Credit: Google Creative Commons Licenses

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