Running Is Better - No, Walking Is

You`d be more likely to get a runner to pull off their toe nails than switch to walking. But, there are benefits to changing your stride. Dr. Philip Martin, chair of the exercise science and physical education department at Arizona State University, said, `The primary reason is that walking, compared to running, doesn`t involve the same level of impact forces that are applied and transmitted up the lower extremities. Those forces are speed dependent and so the faster you run, the higher those shock forces can be. The peak forces under the foot will be in the order of two to three times the body weight in running but rarely get above 1.5 times the body weight with walking.` Although it is logical to assume that with higher forces you`re likely to sustain more injuries than when forces are lower, Dr. Martin warns that it isn`t that simple. He added that injuries are difficult to track and causes for the same injury are different from runner to runner. However, there is some evidence that supports the less impact, fewer injuries theory. A University of Colorado study compared racewalking with running and with step exercise. When the subjects worked at the same intensity, they made similar gains in cardio fitness. But, runners missed an average of 11 workout days due to injuries while, during the same time period, the walkers only missed one. Many runners say that walking is just too wimpy and doesn`t burn enough calories. Some athletes say they don`t have the time walking takes for the results they want. `Mile for mile, walking generally burns about 25 percent fewer calories than jogging and is less beneficial in terms of improving cardiovascular fitness,` said Maurice Puyau, an exercise physiologist with the USDA/ARS Childrens Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. However, Puyau points out, `If you walk farther and more frequently than you would jog and keep your heart rate up while walking, dont worry. Youll burn calories and get great health benefits. Your body weight, effort level and the distance covered are the major factors that affect the number of calories you burn and the cardiovascular benefits you reap when walking or jogging.` Martin says that whether walking or running is better depends on how fast you are moving. He asserted that you can walk at high speeds and have a higher rate of energy consumption than at slow-rate running. However, the walking speeds must be intense. Mark Fenton, a five-time U.S. Racewalking Team member said, `Unlike running, walking requires keeping one foot on the ground at all times, so your muscles have to work constantly. Walk faster than 5 miles an hour and you burn more calories than running at the same speed.` Racewalking, however, is not just a stroll in the park. In order to perform this near art form properly, you`ll need some training. `There is a cross over zone between high walking speeds and low running speeds in which you actually generate higher costs with walking than with running,` the ASU chair said. A heart rate monitor was recommended by Martin for walkers or any other exercisers who want to keep the intensity of their work up in an effective zone. Even experienced walkers say it is difficult to keep moving fast enough to get your heart rate up to the ideal workout range. Another possible advantage of high speed walking over low speed running, according to Martin, is that you tend to move the hips and other joints more with the walking motion. You have to stretch out to take that longer step that walking requires for a higher speed. `That`s a good thing,` said Martin, `to encourage people to use their range of motions to a greater extent.` In fact, Martin says that there`s another reason walking might be your best bet. Studies show that you are more likely to use fat as a fuel if the exercise is a little lower in intensity. He adds that typically it is 85 percent of maximum capability as the zone to use fat as a fuel. If you go to higher intensities, you`re body doesn`t use fat the same way. The experts say that whether you run or walk, what counts is that you are doing something. Even very low level exercising has benefits. Don`t debate, move. BURNING UP THE TRACK Calories Burned = 0.57 x Your Body Weight x Miles When jogging: Calories Burned = 0.75 x Your Body Weight x Miles To walk off one pound of fat, or 3500 calories, a 150-pound person would need to walk 41 miles, or about 40 minutes a day, five times a week, for a month. Walking combined with small changes in your diet can significantly speed weight loss. To get the greatest cardiovascular benefits from walking, choose a pace that allows you to talk but makes singing difficult. Courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine

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