Shedding light on the walking vs running debate.

One of the questions I am most often asked as a trainer is, ‘Which is better for me walking or running?’ I think the reason this question pops up so regularly is because there is a lot of confusion about the “fat burning zones’, and misinformation that walking burns more fat than running. It doesn’t. The harder you work, the more fat you burn.

Fat may be a greater percentage of all energy burned from a walk, but most people are looking to run or walk to burn off total calories rather than percentages. When it comes to the calorie-burning race, running wins every time.

That said, I believe there is a place for both walking and running. It’s not so much a question of which is better for you, but what you are trying to achieve. Your actions should always be aligned with your goals. Why run? We all have a runner in us, injuries excluded, of course. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run, just run! Running is the best choice if:

You want a harder workout.

If your goal is weight loss. Running is one of the best exercises for burning calories and promoting weight loss.

Training for an event.

Training for an event is a great way to stay motivated and set goals that are not related to the number on the scales. If you are time-poor and want to burn more calories in less time, running burns 250 300 calories in thirty minutes.

You want to get the blood pumping, feel alive and spike those endorphins.

You want to escape.

Fill your head with your favourite music, push your body beyond its comfort zone and allow yourself to get lost in the moment.

Just because!

You don’t need a reason to run.

Why walk? Walking is a great way to start your new active lifestyle, and build more movement into your every day. The more activity you can add into your week, the better you’ll feel and the faster you’ll see improvements. Walking is your go-to activity when you want to:

Get moving without the impact.

Walking is an alternative if higher impact options are off the menu either temporarily or permanently.

Get started at a lower intensity.

If you haven’t exercised for a while and you’d like to work up to running, walking is a good place to start. You can begin to incorporate short bursts of running into your walks as your fitness increases, and build up from there.

Get from A to B the healthy way.

Next time you think about jumping in the car to go to the shops, cinema, or even work, ask yourself if you could walk instead. If you have kids, you’ll be setting an awesome example.

Clear your head.

Take a walk during your lunch break, after work or after dinner and see the difference it makes to your productivity and mood.

Walk with a friend.

Catch up on the latest over a walk instead of a cocktail. Take your dog – my personal favourite!

I hope this puts an end to any confusion over the walking vs running debate. Now it’s time to put on those walking or running shoes, get out there and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

Love, Sam x

Posted by Sam Wood

Father and husband, on a mission to help people move more, eat better and make a positive change to their lives. Sam Wood has over 20 years experience as a personal trainer and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts and media commentators in the health & fitness industry. Sam is the founder and personal trainer of 28, Australia’s #1 home fitness and nutrition program, and he's also the proud owner of Australia’s largest personal training studio, The Woodshed, based in Brighton, Melbourne.