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Staying Fit In Fall: The Benefits of Walking vs. Running

Apartment Living
[dropcap] W [/dropcap]hen the mornings are cooler and nights are outright brisk, you know Fall has arrived.  Walking and running are the most popular physical activities for American adults.  A long running (no pun intended) debate has compared one to the other in terms of the most effective work-out but there is never a straight winner in that race.  The reason is because it depends almost entirely on what you wish to accomplish.  For instance, a person, whose sole purpose for exercising is to control weight, should focus their routines around running.  An individual whose sole purpose for exercising is to maintain a level of activity in their life as well as benefit from a better, healthier lifestyle will benefit from walking all the same.

Walking

Although running generally wins the weight loss aspect of the walker vs. runner debate, walking actually has quite a few benefits.  Paul T. Williams, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the lead author of studies involving the surveys of runners and walkers noted that runners had far less risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol profiles, diabetes and heart disease than individuals who remained stationary (laying down, watching TV, sleeping, etc.) for large periods of time throughout the day.  Runners were able to reduce their risk of heart disease by roughly 4.5 percent running an hour a day.  But to the advantage of walkers, walking for about 2 hours per day (equal energy to running) reduced their risk of heart disease by more than 9 percent. The American Heart Association compiled the following list of advantages to walking at a minimum of 30 minutes a day, which is beyond doable for most.
  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

Running

Running has always been considered the frontrunner (again no pun) in this debate.  Runners receive the same benefits as walkers but running also aids in weight control.  Running also has a strong effect on appetite, as another intriguing study suggests.  In this Journal of Obesity study, 9 experienced female runners and 10 committed female walkers reported to the exercise physiology lab at the University of Wyoming on two dates.  On day one, the groups ran or walked on a treadmill for an hour. On the second day, they all rested for an hour. Throughout each session, researchers monitored their total energy expenditure and drew blood to check for levels of certain hormones related to appetite.  After both sessions, the volunteers were set free in a room with a loaded buffet and told to eat at will.  The walkers turned out to be hungry, consuming about 50 calories more than they had burned during their hour-long treadmill stroll.  The runners, on the other hand, picked at their food, taking in almost 200 fewer calories than they had burned while running.  Now that’s what I call curbing your appetite. No one can say for certain which activity is the most efficient, but one thing is certain, walking and running are better for overall health than doing nothing at all.