Brisk walk can match benefits of running, it just takes more time

Have you ever wondered if a brisk walk is as good for you as running?
Paul Williams of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and Paul Thompson of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut have done their best to answer that question. They compared data from 33,060 runners participating part in the National Runners’ Health Study to that of 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers’ Health Study.
There conclusion backs up what common sense would tell most people: walkers can match the benefits of runners, but it takes considerably longer because walking doesn’t require as much energy.
However, the study sheds even more light on this topic by reporting some interesting statistics and findings to go with it.
“It takes longer to walk a mile than to run a mile. But if you match them up on the energy expended, they are comparable,” Williams told “If you do the same amount of exercise – if you expend the same number of calories – you get the same benefit.”
People who exercised equally in terms of energy output got the same benefit, regardless of whether they ran or walked, Williams and Thompson reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
They compared data from walkers and runners for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol at the beginning over a six-year period and watched to see who developed conditions such as high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol or diabetes.
Running can obviously burn more calories in a shorter time, which makes it especially appealing for people who are crunched for time.
However, if you can’t run or don’t like to, the good news about the study is that it shows there really area similar benefits to walking — it just takes longer to match up with running.
“A person would need to walk 4.3 miles at a brisk pace to expend the same amount of exercise as running 3 miles, and it would take about twice as long (an hour and 15 minutes by walking instead of 38 minutes by running),” Williams said.
So whether you run or walk, keep at it consistently day after day.
This study reminds me of the tale of tortoise and the hare – if you walkers keep at it you’ll get the same benefits in the long run as the runners, it will just take longer.
Whether you walk or run, consider alternating the ways you do it to keep things interesting. You can run on the treadmill at any time, but also go outside if the weather is nice. Exercising with a friend can make it more enjoyable.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. Consult a doctor before making any significant changes in your exercise routine or diet. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at