Running Vs Walking: Which One Is Better For You?

A fitness regimen that works for one person might not work for another: You may love running, but can't stand slower walks. But your best friend might prefer walking, while running sounds painful and unappealing. The good news: You're both doing the right thing. Walking can be just as beneficial as running, depending on what your fitness goals are and your personal preferences. 

Both are heart-healthy. In fact, one large-scale study found that walking at a moderate/brisk pace and running at a vigorous pace had similar impacts on blood pressure, cholesterol, and even heart disease. "The more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits. If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable," lead researcher Paul T. Williams said in a press release about their findings. 

And both walking and running will get you outside in nature, which has its own health benefits including a reduction in stress and anxiety, research has found. As little as five minutes of exercise done in green space was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy, and positive engagement, while also decreasing tension, confusion, anger, and depression (via Science Daily).

Are there any downsides to running or walking?

If you're new to working out, you might assume that walking is just too easy to count as exercise, but it's hugely beneficial for your health. However, if your goals are more weight-loss oriented, you might struggle to walk enough for the caloric burn required to drop any weight, and that's where running may be more effective. Running burns roughly twice as many calories as walking — but if you're finding running difficult, you can make walking more challenging by speeding up your pace, walking uphill, or wearing a weighted vest to add challenge (via Healthline).

Running is more effective at improving bone health, especially for women, thanks to its high impact nature. One 2017 study found that even a minute a day of running was enough to improve bone health for women — so consider adding a few speedier sections to your walk.

Ultimately, though, the best option for you between walking and running is the one that you'll commit to and enjoy. If you know walking four times a week for 30 minutes is an option that appeals to you and that can fit in your calendar, focus on that rather than trying to squeeze marathon training into an already-packed schedule. But if you prefer a sweat session that leaves you feeling like you worked hard, running might be the right choice for you. As habit expert and author James Clear writes, pick a habit that is "so easy you don't need motivation to do it." Choose what you're going to stick to — and don't be afraid to mix it up!