Jan 02, 2023


Running vs. Walking for Weight Loss

Running vs walking

"Is it better to run or walk if I want to lose weight?"

With a quick Google search, you'll find a lot of information supporting both forms of exercise regarding weight loss. 

But which one is best? A lot of research suggests that running is a more efficient way to burn calories. However, don't count walking out just yet. We put together this article to explore the benefits of both exercises and other factors that might play a part in losing weight. 

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Benefits of cardio exercise 

Walking and running are both forms of cardio exercise, also known as aerobic cardiovascular

Studies show that cardio exercise has several health benefits, including:

  • assists in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight 

  • helps manage blood sugar

  • strengthens the heart

  • increases good cholesterol (HDL)

  • boosts the immune system

  • helps prevent or manage chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease

  • lowers and manages stress

  • reduces anxiety and depression

  • improves mood and self-confidence 

Running vs. walking 

There are several obvious and not-so-obvious differences between running and walking. 

High impact vs. low impact

Running and jogging are considered high-impact exercises, as they both require both feet to come off the ground and have a high impact on the joints. 

Walking is a low-impact activity. Therefore, it doesn't exert excess strain on joints, making it a good exercise for anyone, especially those recovering from or susceptible to injury. 

Burning calories

As stated earlier, running burns calories faster. As a result, weight loss can happen more quickly. However, walking also has the same benefits. Experts suggest that adding a 30-minute walk to your daily routine may burn between 150-200 calories. 

Risk of injury

The risk of injury during exercise increases with intensity and duration. As a result, people who do high-impact exercise, like running, are more likely to get injured than those who do low-impact, like walking. 

Research shows that around half of recreational runners suffer from an injury each year. Overuse injuries, such as runner's knee, are the most common injuries runners experience. 

Factors involved in weight loss

Exercise, of any form, is just one piece of losing weight. Other factors affect each person's ability to drop pounds individually. 

Be sure to check out our post on reasons you're not losing weight for more information!


Science shows that our genetics contribute to the cause of becoming overweight/obese in several ways, such as:

  • influencing our appetite

  • satiety (feeling full)

  • metabolism

  • food cravings

  • body-fat distribution

  • emotional eating (using food as a coping mechanism) 

Sleep health

Research shows lack of sleep leads to metabolic dysregulation, an increase in oxidative stress, blood sugar (glucose) intolerance, and insulin resistance. Sleep deprivation also impacts our circadian rhythm, affecting weight loss effectiveness. 


What we eat plays a big part in our ability to lose weight. The chances of becoming overweight or developing obesity increase when our diet consists of overly processed, high in sugar, calories, and fatty foods and drinks. 


Several unhealthy lifestyle habits can contribute to weight gain and slow down weight loss, such as:

  • smoking

  • excessive alcohol drinking

  • lack of physical activity

  • sitting down too much

  • unmanaged stress 

  • poor sleep hygiene 

  • emotional eating 

Medical conditions and medications 

Certain medical conditions and medicines can contribute to weight gain and/or make shedding pounds challenging. 

You may want to consult with your healthcare provider about weight loss issues due to the following:

  • hypothyroidism 

  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • hormonal changes or disorders (i.e., Menopause or Cushing's disease)

  • cardiac or kidney disease

  • sleep issues (i.e., Sleep Apnea or Insomnia)

  • chronic inflammation conditions 

  • certain medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, beta-blockers, corticosteroids, antipsychotics, and medicines used to treat epilepsy and diabetes

Should I be running or walking if I want to lose weight?

Running and walking are both beneficial exercises when creating a weight loss plan. 

While running is more intense and raises the heart rate more than walking, it might be too much (at first) for someone who is out of shape, overweight, or older. Listen to your body, and start where your fitness level and health allow. 

Whether you walk or run, you should also make strength training part of your workout routine. Weight lifting can play a crucial role in weight loss, especially for women, as it burns calories, increases lean muscle mass, and helps speed up the metabolism. 

And remember, any physical activity is better than no physical activity when it comes to overall health and well-being. 

Always check with your doctor before starting a new fitness routine. 

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