What’s a Better Workout: Walking or Running?

byLisa Fields
Share it:
What’s a Better Workout: Walking or Running?

Deciding tolace up your shoesandget out the door to exerciseis half the battle, whether you’re looking to lose weight, get stronger or support your overall health. Still, you might wonder whether it’s better togo for a walk or a run. Both can help you meet daily or weeklymovement goals, which can positively impact your blood pressure, endurance, body composition and mental health — and choosing which activity to do is ultimately a matter of preference. However, here’s what to keep in mind when making your decision.


If you’re interested inlosing weight or maintaining your current body weight— and you don’t havejoint issuesor other barriers liketrouble with balanceadopting a running habitmay help you achieve your goals. Running burns more calories than walking, which could lead to greater weight loss faster and over time. Over a six-year period,one studyfound runners lost more weight and maintained a lower body weight than walkers, although people in both groups lost weight.

“I prefer running as the better option for working out, mainly because you can make better use of your time by burning more calories in a shorter amount of time,” saysMelissa Welsh, a NASM-certified personal trainer based in Fairbanks, Alaska. “However, it’s not for everyone, and walking is a great alternative if you’re not able to run for any reason.”

Mixing up your running routine may also help with weight loss. “As long as you arerunning at varying speeds and length, there is a decreased likelihood of plateau at your weight over time,” saysDr. Michele C. Reed, a board-certified family medicine physician and certified personal trainer based in Queens, New York.

Moreover, since there are morerunning racesthan walking races, runners may be more likely to train for long-distance events. If you’re motivated torun a quicker mile, you may become fitter as you improve.


Walking is something we tend to take for granted as it’seasy to do anywhere, anytime. “Running has a much harder impact on your body,” says Welsh. “If you have joint issues, especially in your hips, knees or ankles, you may want to consider walking over running.” Since you’re less likely to become exhausted by walking than running, you may be able tocover greater distances, too, provided you have the time. You can usewalking to help you reach your weight-loss goals, especially if youincorporate intervalsand change up the terrain.

“Walking is wonderful for yourphysical and mental healthand incredibly simple,” saysEmily Spicer, a certified health coach and personal trainer based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. While running and walking can both lead to overtraining and injuries, it’s less likely with walking, and walking is an exercise most people can be consistent with long term, says Spicer.

You can also make walking a social activity; it’s easier to talk with a friend in-person or on the phone while walking than running, adds Spicer. “Instead of sitting on the couch with your significant other watching TV, get out and go for a walk,” she suggests. “Social health is very important, especially when we’re spending more time at home,” so take advantage of bonding time when you can reap the benefits of moving your body.


Walking and running don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Runners can benefit fromwalking for cross-training, and walkers can usejogging or running intervalsto help mix things up and burn more calories. If running feels intimidating, you can always start with walking and gradually pick up the pace over several workouts to progress to a jog and faster run. Walking can also be a great way to motivate yourself if you’re not feeling like running.


It doesn’t matter whether you walk, run or do both; to improve your health and fitness, consistency is the key. Choose the activity you enjoy since “consistency is what gets you real results,” says Spicer. One great way to ensure you exercise regularly is toset SMART goals. “Your daily goal will vary, based on your long-term goal,” says Welsh. For example, if your long-term goal is to complete an event like a5Kor even amarathon, certain daily goals will be to completeshort, high-intensity intervals, others will be long walks or runs and some days will need to bededicated to recovery.

Having anaccountability partnermay help you stay on track and meet your goals. “Start with your inner circle andshare what you would like to do, which can help you stay on track and also spark an interest in others,” says Reed, who recommends thinking outside the box. “When I was training for a marathon, it was always easy to ask my husband or my neighbor to ride their bike with me as I completed a long-distance run, as opposed to asking them to run with me.” Keep track of your goals and make sure to reward yourself along the way, whether it’s withnew workout gearor arelaxing activity like a hot bath.

Originally published December 2014, updated with additional reporting

Make progress every day while you work on fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps. Go to “Plansin the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.

About the Author

Lisa Fields

Lisa Fields is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition, fitness and psychology topics. Her work has been published in Reader’s Digest, WebMD, Women’s Health, Shape, Self and many other publications. A former lifeguard, Lisa swims regularly to stay in shape.You can read more of her work athttp://www.writtenbylisafields.com/.


Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.


Click the 'Allow' Button Above


You're all set.