Walking, Running, and a Comparison

Walking and Running

It’s no secret that walking and running are both popular forms of cardio. One or both can be tried and successfully executed by anyone from beginner exerciser to an advanced athlete, barring any extreme injuries or joint issues. Here we will define both and what their key differences are from one another.


Walking is defined as moving forwards at a regular pace, particularly without having both feet off the ground at once. Walking is a great low- impact way to get your calorie burn in, as well as general health benefits. It incorporates large muscle groups (which can mean bigger calorie burn) with a low impact approach to exercise.  According to Katch, McArdle and Katch, “The typical American achieves between 1000 and 3000 steps daily. A walking goal of 10,000 steps a day- the approximate equivalent of walking 5 miles- falls in line with the most recommendations for physical activity to reduce disease risk and capture the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.” CDC’s physical activity guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise—such as brisk walking—most days of the week, combined with a couple of days of strength training.

Walking briskly most days of the week alone can reduce mortality, increase cardiac stamina, and burn calories, amongst others. According to Prevention.com, your risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease all drop when you start to incorporate walking or jogging into your routine.


According to Kath, McArdle and Katch, running is a speed of over 5 mph and higher energy expenditure. Running involves a longer stride, both feet lifting off the ground, and more large muscle contraction with greater movement in the joints. Arm swing, forward lean, hip extension and glute activation are seen a lot more as you use more joints and force to propel yourself forward at a faster speed. According to CDC guidelines, you will need to get 75 minutes weekly of vigorous activities, such as running for decreased mortality and overall health benefits.

Running involves bigger muscles used: Quads, hamstrings, glutes are all big muscle groups, and therefore, output more energy. There is simply a higher energy demand from these muscles, as well as a heightening demand for oxygen. To intake oxygen is to burn more calories in an “oxidative way”. For horizontal running, the net energy cost is 1 kcal per 2.2 lbs per 0.62 miles.

Example: A 140-lb individual would burn about 510 kcals, running 4.97 miles per hour. This is a pretty moderate pace, flat surface, for an average weighted person. Choose running if you would like to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, as well as increased cardio benefits in a shorter period of time.

Compare and contrast: Mortality risk and which is better for overall health?

Mortality risk is simply a medical classification to estimate the likelihood of death for a patient or client measured by variables studied.

In a study done by Dr. James O’Keefe et al. “Dose of jogging and long-term mortality: the Copenhagen City Heart Study”

“Both studies suggest that moving at a gentler pace—such as a brisk walk or a slow jog—for 1 to 2.5 hours every week lowers your risk of death by 25%.” This is in addition to, “Compared with sedentary non-joggers, 1 to 2.4 h of jogging per week was associated with the lowest mortality”.  According to the  study, there is a U-shaped effect of intensity of walk/run intensity to overall mortality risk. This has to do with the increasing demand threshold of the heart after a certain intensity.  This means that there is a great benefit for low impact cardio,  jogging, light running, but when the demand on the heart becomes vigorous, the benefits for decreased mortality plateau.

“Light and moderate joggers have lower mortality than sedentary non-joggers, whereas strenuous joggers have a mortality rate not statistically different from that of the sedentary group.”


Chertoff, Jane. “10 Benefits of Walking.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 8 Nov. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-walking.

Schnohr P;O’Keefe JH;Marott JL;Lange P;Jensen GB; “Dose of Jogging and Long-Term Mortality: the Copenhagen City Heart Study.”  J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(5):411-419. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 Feb. 2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25660917/.

Katch, Victor L., et al. Essentials of Exercise Physiology. 4th ed., Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health, 2011.

“How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 14 May 2020, www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm.

Greenfield, Paige. “Why Walking Is Better Than Running.” 3 Sept 2015. Prevention, Prevention, 10 June 2019, www.prevention.com/fitness/a20477492/how-walking-is-healthier-than-running/.

“Why Walk? Why Not!” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 20 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/index.htm.