Is it better to run for half an hour or walk fast for 60 minutes? The eternal question of all those who want to put on their sneakers and make the time they dedicate to physical exercise profitable. The experts’ answer to this question varies depending on who asks it. “Both are very good forms of cardiovascular exercise and neither is necessarily better than the other, since this will basically depend on the physical condition and state of health of each person,” clarifies Sara Tabares, graduate in Sports Sciences and director of the center. Performa personal training center (Valencia).
Walking is a “simple, accessible and effective” exercise that also has the great advantage that it can be practiced at any age by adapting the intensity of the walk, while to enter the world of running you need a certain physical condition.
«If we want to have a feeling of enjoyment and for running not to be torture, we must have good prior neuromuscular conditioning. The idea is not to run to be in shape, but rather you have to be in shape to be able to run,” summarizes Sara Tabares, author of the book ‘They train +40’ (Ed. Tutor). Going from the couch to doing five kilometers from one day to the next is not a good idea. “Exercise has to be progressive and maintained over time,” advises the Valencian trainer.
Both walking and running have multiple benefits. They help us maintain a healthy weight, increase resistance, stimulate the immune system, help prevent and control chronic diseases, strengthen the heart… «One study even showed that with just half an hour of moderate intensity exercise three times a week week the symptoms of anxiety and minor depression are reduced,” Tabares recalls.
Injuries, the key
From the point of view of cardiovascular health, «the greatest benefits for our heart do not depend so much on whether we walk or run as on whether we stay active. The difference in health benefits between a person who does not move and a person who walks is much greater than between a person who walks and a person who runs. That is, the most important thing is to get off the couch and move because it is clear that what kills us is a sedentary lifestyle. Now, if we have physical conditions that allow us to run, objectively it will be better to do some races than to walk… as long as we do not go overboard with the intensity of the training,” says Dr. José Abellán, cardiologist at the Murcian Health Service. and author of the book ‘What the heart expects from you’ (Ed. Grijalbo).
«The greatest benefits for our heart do not depend so much on whether we walk or run as on whether we stay active»
Whether you walk or run, the most important thing is consistency. «Choose the modality that is really more sustainable over time, but really. “It is better to go for a walk for a few minutes three times a week than to beat yourself up by running from time to time,” experts agree.
Where do I begin?
If you are a sedentary person who barely moves and want to start exercising, start by walking. «First at a normal pace and little by little increase the intensity of the walk to also increase the heart and respiratory rate. For example, walk three minutes at your own pace and speed up the next three minutes a little more,” says the director of Performa.
When the effort you make while walking is intense enough that you can still talk but not sing, we are already talking about moderate cardiovascular activity. And the latest studies indicate that the greatest benefits for the heart are obtained precisely when you start walking faster. In any case, physical activity professionals advise “not to become obsessed with quantifying steps per minute, times. The fundamental thing is to increase the intensity of the walk little by little.
If the goal is to run, you can also start by alternating brisk walking with running. For example, one minute of jogging with three minutes of walking, which is repeated three to five times. The next step would be to start running without walking intervals. “To run safely and avoid injuries you must be in shape,” insists Sara Tabares. If you can’t or don’t like running but want to increase the intensity of the exercise, look for walking routes with hills and pick up the pace on the climbs. “And if all this cardiovascular activity is combined with strength exercises, the result would be optimal,” says Dr. Abellán.
The big difference between running or walking is injuries (on this point the data is conclusive): «Walkers have between 1 and 5% chance of getting injured, while in the case of runners the percentage is “It is between 20 and 70%.”