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Running Vs Brisk Walking: Study Says Walking is Better for Your Health

Update Date: Apr 04, 2013 10:07 PM EDT
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Photo:Flickr/ Ed Yourdon

Ever wondered what is better for your health between walking and running? A new study showed that brisk walking is as good as running for lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes risk.

The only catch - as long as the energy used is similar, the health boost is similar, says a report in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. The study looked at data on 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers, calculated their energy expenditure and compared that to a range of health problems. The effects on participants, who were aged 18 to 80, were observed over six years.

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The study found that running lowered the risk of heart disease by 4.5 percent while walking reduced it by 9.3 percent

Calorie for calorie, walking also had a stronger impact on heart-disease risk factors. The risk of first-time high blood pressure was reduced by 4.2 percent by running and 7.2 percent walking.

First-time high-cholesterol risk was lowered by 4.3 percent by running and 7 percent by walking.

The risk of first-time diabetes was reduced by about 12 percent by both walking and running.

"Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities," said Paul T. Williams, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, who led the study.

"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."

Dr Williams said the snag is that runners often expend more energy than walkers - thus reaping more gains. He estimates that a person would need to walk 4.3 miles at a brisk pace to have the same amount of exercise as running 3 miles. It would take twice as long - around an hour and 15 minutes instead of 38 minutes. 

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