Walking vs Running for Weight Loss: Which is More Effective?


Are you looking to shed some pounds but can’t decide between walking or running to achieve your weight loss goals? Both exercises boast various benefits, from burning calories to improving overall health.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the effectiveness of walking and running for weight loss by comparing calorie burn, joint impact, advantages and disadvantages of each activity, and factors to consider when choosing which exercise is best for you.

So lace up those sneakers and let’s dive into the world of walking vs.

Key Takeaways

  • Running burns more calories per minute compared to walking, making it a more efficient way to lose weight in a shorter amount of time.
  • Walking is a low-impact exercise that places less stress on joints and muscles compared to running, reducing the risk of injury – making it an ideal choice for beginners or those with pre-existing injuries or joint issues.
  • Incorporating both walking and running through run/walk intervals or cross-training can provide optimal results while keeping you motivated toward improved health and fitness.
  • Regardless of whether you choose walking or running, consistency is crucial in achieving long-term weight loss goals, which should be combined with balanced nutrition habits to ensure sustainable results.

Understanding Walking And Running For Weight Loss

Walking and running are both effective forms of exercise for weight loss, with differences in calorie burning and impact on joints and muscles.

Calorie Burning Differences

Understanding the calorie-burning differences between walking and running is essential when trying to choose the best exercise for weight loss. Here’s a comparison of the calorie burn for both activities:

ActivityCalories Burned per Minute (approx.)

As you can see, running burns significantly more calories per minute compared to walking, which can result in faster weight loss for beginners who have the physical ability to run. However, it’s important to remember that establishing a consistent exercise routine and incorporating balanced nutrition into your lifestyle plays a crucial role in achieving sustainable weight loss.

Impact On Joints And Muscles

One significant factor to consider when choosing between walking and running for weight loss is the impact these activities have on joints and muscles. Running, being a high-impact exercise, can place more stress on the knees, hips, and ankles compared to walking.

On the other hand, walking provides a gentler approach for those concerned about joint health or recovering from an injury. As a low-impact exercise, it doesn’t put excessive strain on your body while still offering numerous health benefits like strengthening muscles and improving cardiovascular fitness.

In conclusion, understanding one’s personal fitness level as well as any pre-existing conditions is crucial in deciding which form of exercise suits better for achieving individual weight loss goals.

Walking vs Running for Weight Loss
Photo By Andres Ayrton

Benefits Of Walking For Weight Loss

Walking has numerous benefits for weight loss, including lower risk of injury, accessibility, and ease for beginners, and the ability to be made more challenging with inclines and weighted vests.

Lower Risk Of Injury

One significant advantage of choosing walking over running for weight loss, especially for beginner runners, is the lower risk of injury. Walking is a low-impact exercise that places less stress on your joints and muscles compared to the high-impact nature of running.

For instance, consider two friends joining a weight loss program together. One decides to start jogging right away while the other opts for brisk walks. The jogging friend may initially burn more calories due to higher intensity; however, they might experience shin splints or knee pain after some time, forcing them to take a break from exercising.

On the other hand, the walking friend experiences no such setbacks and can maintain consistency in their workouts.

Accessibility And Ease For Beginners

Walking is a fantastic exercise option for beginners due to its ease and accessibility. All you need are comfortable shoes and an open area to walk around in! It’s also low-impact, meaning there‚Äôs less stress on joints and muscles compared to running.

This makes it ideal for those starting out with little or no exercise experience, overweight individuals, or those recovering from injury who may not be ready for more intense activities yet.

Plus, walking can be made challenging by altering the terrain (hills or inclines) or adding weights (weighted vests), making it adaptable as fitness levels improve.

Can Be Made More Challenging With Inclines And Weighted Vests

Walking can be a great way to ease into an exercise routine for weight loss, and the good news is that it doesn’t have to be boring or unchallenging. Adding inclines to your daily walk can increase the intensity of the workout by engaging different muscles in your legs and core while also enhancing cardiovascular endurance.

Walking on hills or inclined treadmills increases oxygen consumption, which burns more calories and strengthens your heart health over time.

If you’re just starting with walking as a form of exercise for weight loss, start with gentle terrains like flat trails or paved roads before gradually adding hill climbs once you’ve built up some stamina.

Once you’re comfortable with incline walking, consider investing in a good quality weighted vest – one that distributes the weight evenly across your shoulders – to take things up another notch.

However, remember always pace yourself when out walking; this will help avoid any injury from trying too much too soon.

Keywords: Walking program, Incline walking, Weighted vest.

Walking vs Running for Weight Loss
Photo By Ryan De Hamer

Benefits Of Running For Weight Loss

Running not only burns calories faster than walking but also increases cardiovascular fitness and can lead to a higher afterburn effect, making it an effective form of exercise for weight loss.

Faster Calorie Burning

Running burns calories faster than walking, making it a more efficient way to lose weight in a shorter amount of time. According to the National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Study, running burns twice as many calories per mile as walking, which can lead to significant weight loss results.

Additionally, running also has a higher afterburn effect where you continue to burn calories even after your workout is finished. However, it’s important to note that starting with high-intensity workouts like running may not be sustainable for all beginners and can increase the risk of injury or overexertion.

Increased Cardiovascular Fitness

When it comes to weight loss, the benefits of exercise go beyond just shedding pounds. Running can also increase your cardiovascular fitness, which is your body’s ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream to working muscles during exercise.

This means that over time, running can improve your heart health by strengthening your heart and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. According to a study published in the American Heart Association journal “Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology,” both low- and high-intensity exercise training has been shown to be effective at improving cardiovascular function in overweight individuals with hypertension or high cholesterol levels.

Higher Afterburn Effect

After a workout, your body continues to burn calories while at rest. This is known as the afterburn effect and it can last for several hours. Running has been shown to have a higher afterburn effect compared to walking.

The length of the afterburn effect also depends on the intensity and duration of your workout. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can produce a greater afterburn effect compared to low-intensity exercises like walking or steady-state running.

It’s worth noting that the afterburn effect alone should not be used as the sole basis for choosing between walking or running for weight loss.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between Walking And Running

When deciding between walking and running for weight loss, it’s essential to consider personal fitness levels, injury history and joint health, time availability, and lifestyle.

Personal Fitness Levels

Before beginning your weight loss journey with walking or running, it’s essential to consider your personal fitness levels. This includes factors such as overall health, stamina, and prior exercise experience.

Beginners should start slow and gradually increase their speed and distance over time. If you have any previous injuries or underlying conditions that affect your mobility, low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling may be a better option.

Did you know that making exercise a habit is crucial for achieving long-term weight loss goals? A study by the International Journal of Obesity found that individuals who made lifestyle changes through consistent exercising saw significant improvements in their body composition compared to those who relied on dieting alone.

Injury History And Joint Health

It’s important to consider your injury history and joint health when deciding whether to walk or run for weight loss. Running can be more high-impact, which may increase the risk of injuries like plantar fasciitis or muscle strains.

If you have a history of such injuries, it’s best to start with walking and gradually build up your endurance before trying running. Walking is also beneficial for those with joint issues since it puts less stress on the knees and other joints.

Time Availability And Lifestyle

It’s important to consider your time availability and lifestyle when choosing between walking and running for weight loss. If you have a busy schedule, it may be more realistic to start with a walking program that can easily fit into your day.

On the other hand, if you have more free time or enjoy high-intensity exercise, running may be a better fit for you.

Remember, making exercise habits sustainable is key for long-term weight loss success.

Incorporating Both Walking And Running For Optimal Weight Loss

Combining both walking and running can be an effective way to achieve weight loss goals while minimizing the risk of injury- read on to learn more.

Run/walk Intervals

Incorporating run/walk intervals can be an effective way to boost weight loss results. It’s a great way for beginner runners to start building stamina and endurance gradually. Here are some tips on how to incorporate run/walk intervals into your routine:

  • Start with shorter running segments, such as 30 seconds or 1 minute, followed by longer walking segments.
  • Gradually increase the length of the running segments while decreasing the length of the walking segments.
  • Aim for consistency in your intervals. For example, you could do a 2: 1 ratio of running to walking (e.g., running for 2 minutes and walking for 1 minute) and stick with it until you feel comfortable increasing the ratio.
  • Use an app or timer to keep track of your intervals and help you maintain a steady pace.
  • Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard too soon. It’s okay to take breaks or adjust your intervals if needed.

By incorporating run/walk intervals into your routine, you can improve both your cardiovascular fitness and weight loss results. Plus, it can make running more enjoyable and less daunting for beginners!

Walking vs Running for Weight Loss
Photo By Tara Glaser

Balancing High-impact And Low-impact Exercise

It is important to balance high-impact and low-impact exercises when incorporating both walking and running for optimal weight loss. High-impact exercises such as running are great for burning calories quickly but can put a lot of stress on the joints and increase the risk of injury over time.

To strike a balance between these two types of exercise, beginner runners can try incorporating cross-training activities such as swimming or cycling into their routine to reduce the impact on their joints while still getting an intense workout.

They can also gradually increase the intensity of their workouts by adding hills or speed intervals during runs or power walking with a weighted vest during walks. Additionally, strength training workouts that focus on glutes and hip health can help reduce strain on knees during high-intensity exercise sessions.


In conclusion, whether you prefer walking or running, both activities can lead to weight loss and improved overall health. While running may burn more calories per minute, walking carries less risk of injury and is more accessible for beginners.

The best exercise for weight loss ultimately depends on personal fitness levels, injury history, time availability, and lifestyle. Incorporating a combination of walking and running through run/walk intervals or cross-training can provide optimal results.

Consistency is key to reaching weight loss goals and maintaining them with balanced nutrition habits.


Q: Is walking or running better for weight loss?

A: Both walking and running are great forms of cardio exercise that can help you burn calories and lose weight. However, running is generally considered more effective for weight loss because it burns more calories in a shorter amount of time.

Q: What are the benefits of cardio exercise?

A: Cardio exercise, such as running and walking, is great for maintaining a healthy weight, improving heart health, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, and burning belly fat.

Q: Is walking as effective as running for weight loss?

A: Walking can be effective for weight loss, especially if you walk for a longer period of time at a higher intensity level. However, running generally burns more calories and is considered more effective for weight loss.

Q: Does body weight affect calorie burn during running and walking?

A: Yes, body weight can affect the number of calories you burn during running and walking. Generally, the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn during exercise.

Q: Can both running and walking help me maintain a healthy weight?

A: Yes, both running and walking can help you maintain a healthy weight when combined with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle habits.

Q: How many calories can I burn during running and walking?

A: The number of calories you burn during running and walking depends on several factors, including your body weight, the intensity of your exercise, and the amount of time you spend running or walking. On average, a 150-pound person can burn around 100 calories per mile walked and around 130 calories per mile run.

Q: Is speed walking more challenging than regular walking?

A: Yes, speed walking can be more challenging than regular walking because it requires you to walk at a faster pace and engage more muscles in your legs and core.

Q: Can I burn belly fat by running and walking?

A: Yes, running and walking can help you burn belly fat when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle. However, it’s important to note that spot-reducing belly fat is not possible and weight loss will occur throughout your whole body, not just in one area.

Q: Does increasing the incline while running and walking help burn more calories?

A: Yes, increasing the incline while running and walking can help you burn more calories because it makes the exercise more challenging and engages more muscles in your legs and core.

Q: What are some differences between walking and running as a form of exercise?

A: Walking is a low-impact exercise that is easier on the joints and can be done for longer periods of time. Running is a high-impact exercise that can be more challenging on the joints, but generally burns more calories and is more effective for weight loss.

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