Keep on running or take a hike?

London 10k running by London EyeWith the London Marathon this weekend, many of us will be staring wistfully at our trainers and even be inspired enough to think about brushing off the winter dust and venturing out for a bit of a jog. If you are running in the marathon then congratulations alone for having enough get-up-and-go to do the training and take part.

If you have dodgy joints, are eating & exercising for two or running is just not your thing though, do not despair  Everyone knows that exercise is good for you and it is often assumed that the more vigorous the exercise, the greater the health rewards reaped. For those of us however who are more content to take a ramble rather than reach for our running shoes, there is good news! A new study whose results were published in American Heart Association’s ‘Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology’ Journal on 4th April 2013 has shown that using the same amount of energy walking as running results in similar health benefits.

The study, which took place over the course of a little more than six years observed the effects of running and walking on the 33060 runners and 15945 walkers between the age of 18 and 80 taking part in the research. The results clearly showed that even though the intensity of running as exercise is higher than walking, as long as both runners and walkers used the same amount of energy, they would both see a reduction in the risk of first time heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

In fact, when compared directly on energy expenditure, walking provided to be marginally better at reducing health risks. Whilst running reduced the risk of high blood pressure by 4.2%, walking helped by 7.2%. Likewise, running reduced cholesterol risks by 4.3%, walking by 7%. Coronary Heart Disease risk in runners reduced by 4.5% whilst walkers risk reduced by 9.3%. Diabetes risk for both runners and walkers was comparable at 12.1% and 12.3% respectively.  Unsurprisingly, the study also confirmed that the more of either exercise participants undertook, the greater the reduction of risk of getting the different diseases they experienced.

So the message is clear, choose your exercise of choice and get going! Whether it’s a moderately vigorous walk or a brisk run, both will improve your physical health and help guard against the onset of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. What’s more, there are also plenty of mental benefits to getting out for a bit of exercise too. If you are looking to swap your run for a hike though, just remember to make your walking route longer than your running route if you want to reap the same benefits!

Are you a walker or a runner? Which do you prefer and why? Leave a comment and let us know! 

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