Running versus walking – which is better? If you asked most people what they think I’m sure most would be of the opinion that running is better for your health. But is this really the case?

From a human evolution point of view, we were designed to run.  Our ability to outlast and chase down animals over long distances has meant the survival and growth of humans, but is it good for you now in this day and age?

The answer is still yes, but there are alternatives.

The American College of Sports Medicine continues to recommend that we perform the following for our cardio vascular fitness:

  • 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week (walking at a brisk pace or slow run (some what puffed), not a regular paced walk)  OR
  • 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise (Running >7km/hr)

What are the benefits?

  • On average, a 4-year reduction in the age of our cardio vascular system.  The results are even better the older you are.
  • 38% reduction in risk of High Blood Pressure
  • 71% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • 10% reduction in risk of death from all causes

The benefits from brisk walking compared to running seem to be similar BUT, you need to walk twice as long as your run to achieve the same result.  So, therefore running it the more efficient of the two, for those of you who are time poor.

Does running result in wear and tear on the body?

This is one of the most surprising aspects, that running actually reduces the risk of arthritis and the amount of wear and tear on the hips and knees.  In several studies in the marathon training and race running in the US, there were no signs of more wear and tear in the hips and knees during training, the race or 6 months after a marathon.

In a large 2017 meta-analysis of 125,000 people only 3.5% of runners had arthritis in their hips and knees, compared to 10% in sedentary non-runners, a 3-fold reductions!

However, elite marathon runners had a 13% incidence of arthritis, meaning a moderate amount of running, as recommended in the guidelines is protective, but high volumes, have the reverse effect and lead to more wear and tear.  Running more than 4.5 hours a week is the most obvious tipping point, when the benefits of running taper off and begin to reverse.

What is the ideal combination of exercise?

For the best benefits from all types of exercise, the ideal combination is:

  • Strength training, working on all the major muscle groups 2-3 x a weeks
  • Cardio Training of either:
    • Running – 1.25hours per week OR
    • Brisk walking – 2.5 hours per week

Our Clinical Exercise/Pilates programs at MD Health focus on strength training and our Physiotherapists and Accredited Exercise Physiologists always ensure that our programs are tailored towards your needs!


​Reference: Haake, S ( 2020) Gotta Run?.  New Scientist, 14th March 2020, No. 3273.  P34-38.

Do you have any questions?

  • Call us on (03) 9857 0644 or (07) 3505 1494 (Paddington)
  • Email us at admin@mdhealth.com.au
  • Check out our other blog posts here

Our clinical staff would be happy to have chat if you have any questions.

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