Op-Ed: Walking actually provides better health benefits than running

Posted Apr 5, 2013 by Jonathan Lam
We would think that running uses much more energy when compared to walking. So from a logical standpoint running should provide better health benefits. Well think again!
File picture shows foreign tourists walking on a beach on the western coast of the southern Thai isl...
File picture shows foreign tourists walking on a beach on the western coast of the southern Thai island of Phuket
Christophe Archambault, AFP/File
According to the American Heart Association, walking can reduce the chances of being diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes as much as running.
Researchers in the National Runners' Health Study analyzed 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers in the course of 6 years. Research shows that if the same amount of energy is applied to both intensify walking and hard core running, the same reduction of health diseases (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes) are shown in both cases.
Does this mean all my daily running routines are useless? At the end of my run as I lean on the stop sign pole grasping for air, is it all pointless? Could I have simply just power walked my way through the park and have the same health benefits?
Well the studies do indeed show that if we put the same amount of energy from running into walking and travel the same distance, the benefits of walking are in fact greater than running.
National Runners' Health Study done by Dr. Paul T. WIlliams show the following results.
Running significantly reduced risk for first-time hypertension 4.2 percent and walking reduced risk 7.2 percent.
Running reduced first-time high cholesterol 4.3 percent and walking 7 percent.
Running reduced first-time diabetes 12.1 percent compared to 12.3 percent for walking.
Running reduced coronary heart disease 4.5 percent compared to 9.3 percent for walking.
But we have to take into account that this does not mean we can stroll down the street and claim that we have just acquired better health benefits compared to a marathon runner in training. No, it does not work like that. The same amount of energy put into running must be also applied to walking. I put a great amount of energy in running. To put this into exaggeration, in my head I think of walking around in 100 pound shoes with chained shoe laces. That would definitely get the job done.
So if people out there are looking for a workout routine that can greatly lower high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes besides running. Try putting the same amount of energy into walking. There's a chance you might look weird doing it, but in the end of the day its all about staying healthy.