Walking or Running: Which is a better exercise?

When someone mentions that you have to work on your cardio, they usually mean that you should start walking or running. Both are great for your heart. But which one is better? 


There isn’t a straight answer. Just as much as running, walking is a great option too. It mostly depends on your preferences and your body. For those with great fitness levels already, running won’t be a problem. On the other hand, walking might suit your goals better if you are new to sports. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s explore both in more detail.

The Difference in Health Benefits

Although many think about them as the same thing, the difference between running and walking really does exist. In essence, running exercise is much better if you are looking to lose weight. Even though walking can help with that too, running leads to fewer pounds much faster. In fact, it’s the best exercise if you’re looking to appear thinner. But that’s not all. It helps with bone structure, cardio-vascular health, muscle density, and much more.


On the other hand, walking as exercise has numerous health benefits too. If running is great to lose weight, walking is even better at maintaining it at a certain level. You can arguably say that one comes with the other. Other major pros of employing your soles include precluding numerous heart diseases like cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, etc. It’s also great for preventing various types of cancer and dangerous type-2 diabetes.

Calorie Burn

Everyone burns a certain number of calories in 24h. For the average female, that’s between 1,500 and 2,200; for males, it’s from 2,200 to 3,000. But don’t take these numbers literally, as calorie intake varies from person to person and their builds, as well as their activity levels. So, in short, both walking and running can burn calories, but not with the same success rate. 

Running burns twice the number of calories as walking does. But walking is still a good option. Someone who, let’s say, weighs around 160 pounds (ca. 73 kg) loses almost 80 calories when fast walking for fifteen minutes. Running for the same amount of time at 3 mph (ca. 5 km/h), on the other hand, will burn 178 calories.

Energy Consumption in These Exercises

When someone talks about walking vs. running, most people will imagine that the latter is more difficult and uses up more energy. And, for the most part, they wouldn’t be wrong. Running burns more calories, as we’ve mentioned, so it must be more exhausting, right? But there’s a catch. Namely, there is more than one way we can walk. If you go about it the right way, you can classify it as intense exercise, too. In many ways, just as intense as taking an easy run.


For more energy consumption, we recommend speed and power walking. These two include a faster pace, up to 3 mph (ca. 5 km/h). While doing so, your heart rate will go up, and you’ll burn more calories, unlike when you stroll around like a regular senior. Furthermore, there are also walking with weights and doing it on inclines. These two are also great if you’re looking to up energy consumption and overall fitness.

Risk Factors and Injury Probability

Another way in which these two workouts differ is injury probability. Although speed walking isn’t necessarily how we walk in normal circumstances, the chances of hurting yourself while doing it are rather low. Moreover, we’d be surprised if you ever did. On the other hand, running is the opposite. It’s a high-impact workout that requires much more energy and more muscle contractions, and so the risk factor goes significantly up.


The most common injuries while jogging and running include stress fractures, shin damage, and ITV friction syndrome. That last one is not that common, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be aware of it. 

Some studies suggest that those who enjoy long runs are twice as likely to live through an injury than those who enjoy 30 minutes of walking seven days a week. Of course, this isn’t a rule, but you should be careful either way.

Levels of Difficulty

By now, we must have busted the myth about running being a more serious activity than walking, haven’t we? Well, sure, but it’s not a competition. Both types of workouts are great, and it only depends on what you’re looking to take away from them. Still, can we say which one is harder? It has to be running, surely. It’s an impact exercise, after all. And you’re not wrong this time: running is more difficult. Let us elaborate.


Firstly, while you’re running, you only have one leg on the ground at a time. This means that each time you make a new step, your foot lands with all your weight on the surface beneath you. This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for your weight. Due to simple physics, your body suffers an impact three times higher than your body weight each time you land. As such, the stress on your organism is greater, and the exercise harder.

All Things Considered

To conclude, we must once again state that both walking and running are great for your health. This is especially true for your heart. Numerous studies suggest that everyone should be doing at least one, as two and a half hours of each exercise week can significantly increase one’s chances of fighting off diseases that we’ve mentioned earlier. If you divide that with seven, it’s just over 20 minutes a day, which isn’t that much, really.


Either way, walking is where you should start if you’re new to cardio. A proper training plan for beginners should include at least brisk walking for 15 minutes. After a while, when you increase your fitness level, you can start running. It will, as mentioned in the text above, increase the number of burned calories and, in turn, weight loss.

Lastly, one doesn’t need to exclude the other by any means. You can mix both fast walking and running for even better results. Thanks to iOS and Android apps, there are multiple programs that are free and explain all there is to know about proper cardio. And all of them include fast walking and running combos. In our opinion, some of the best are 10K Runner, Adidas’ Runtastic, and Map My Run by Under Armour.