Consumer Reports: Which is better, running or walking?

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Lace up your sneakers as Consumer Reports breaks down the different benefits from running versus walking.

When it comes to exercise, do you swear by working up a sweat with a good run, or do you prefer to take a vigorous walk?

Turns out both runners and walkers reap health benefits compared to couch potatoes, but is one really better than the other for fitness?

Lace up your sneakers as Consumer Reports breaks down the different benefits from running versus walking.

"The first 3 miles of every run is awful," said Nicle Friedman, a runner. "Once you get over that hump, it's the best feeling ever."

"When I walk is when I get serenity," said Joan Sepler, a walker.

It's always good to get any kind of exercise, but which one is actually the best?

"It's important that you choose an exercise that you can do regularly. The main difference is just that running burns calories faster than walking," said Lauren Friedman, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

For instance, running for half an hour burns about twice the calories as a half hour of walking. But if the walker covers the same distance, just over a longer time, she'll catch up calorie-wise.

What about other health benefits?

"Running and walking are both excellent for heart health. When you run, your heart does work harder than when you walk. But that doesn't actually mean that runners have better heart health than walkers," Friedman said.

If runners and walkers burn the same number of calories every day, both groups have a lower risk of heart disease than inactive people. In fact, one large study found the walkers might have a slight advantage over the runners. Walkers see another benefit.

"I don't have the injuries that my husband has as an avid runner," said Mary Huvane, a walker.

Experts say injuries from running are not inevitable. They are often caused by doing too much, too soon.

"It's best to ease into running, and then gradually increase the speed and the distance and the frequency of your runs," Friedman said.

Both types of exercise are also good for bone health. For instance, running or walking at least 30 minutes a day may help mitigate mild bone loss.

Ellen Brecher, a long-time runner and walker, had this advice.

"You can get to that finish line no matter how you do it, as long as you keep moving," Brecher said.

Contrary to what you may think, runners don't suffer from arthritis more than non-runners. In fact, their risk for arthritis is roughly 15 percent lower than for those who don't exercise at all.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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