Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Better to Run or to Walk? It Depends ; Jogging Aids Weight Loss, but a Long Stroll Benefits the Heart, Studies Show

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Better to Run or to Walk? It Depends ; Jogging Aids Weight Loss, but a Long Stroll Benefits the Heart, Studies Show

Article excerpt

New studies that pit running against walking found that if your goal is to lose weight, running wins. But in other measures of health, walking can be at least as valuable as running - and in some cases more so.

Walking and running are the most popular physical activities for adults. But whether one is preferable to the other in terms of improving health has long been debated. Now a variety of new studies that pitted running directly against walking are providing some answers.

Their conclusion? It depends almost completely on what you are hoping to accomplish.

If, for instance, you are looking to control your weight, running wins. In a study published last month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and unambiguously titled "Greater Weight Loss From Running Than Walking," researchers combed data from 15,237 walkers and 32,215 runners enrolled in the National Runners and Walkers Health Study -- a large U.S. survey being conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

Participants were asked about their weight, waist circumference, diets and typical weekly walking or running mileage, both when they joined the study and then again up to six years later.

The runners almost uniformly were thinner than the walkers when each joined the study, and they stayed that way throughout. Over the years, the runners maintained their body mass and waistlines far better than the walkers.

The difference was particularly notable among participants over age 55. Runners in this age group were not running a lot and generally were barely expending more calories per week during exercise than older walkers. But their body mass indexes and waist circumferences remained significantly lower than those of age- matched walkers.

Why running should better aid weight management than walking is not altogether clear. It might seem obvious that running, being more strenuous than walking, burns more calories per hour. And that is true. But in the Berkeley study and others, when energy expenditure was approximately matched -- when walkers head out for hours of rambling and burn the same number of calories over the course of a week as runners -- the runners seem able to control their weight better over the long term.

One reason may be running's effect on appetite, as another intriguing, if small, report suggests. In the study, published last year in the Journal of Obesity, nine experienced female runners and 10 committed female walkers reported to the exercise physiology lab at the University of Wyoming on two separate occasions. On one day, 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. They also drew blood from their volunteers to check for levels of certain hormones related to appetite. …

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