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Walking Versus Running to Reduce Risk of Chronic Diseases

Apr 12, 2013

Which is better at lowering risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes?… 

A new published study shows that brisk walking has similar health benefits to running. This study compared 33,060 runners in the National Runners’ Health Study to 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers’ Health Study.

The two studies for running and walking were conducted over 6 years. A comparison of the studies found that the energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running had similar reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and coronary heart disease (CHD). The walking and running expenditure was evaluated by distance, unlike previous studies that looked at time. The study participants recorded their activity via questionnaires.

The researchers compared walking versus running and reported the effects on the risk for a first-time diagnosis of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, and CHD. In the comparison, the results showed the following:

  • Walking reduced the risk of first-time hypertension by 7.2% and running by 4.2%.
  • Walking reduced the risk of first-time cholesterolemia by 7% and running by 4.3%.
  • Walking reduced the risk of first-time diabetes by 12.3% and running by 12.1%.
  • Walking reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 9.3% and running by 4.5%

These results can show patients that walking has equal, if not better, health benefits than running. Walking could be a great exercise for people that have trouble with running. Dr. Paul T. Williams, researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says, "People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise, but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health."

Paul T. Williams and Paul D. Thompson. Walking Versus Running for Hypertension, Cholesterol, and Diabetes Mellitus Risk Reduction. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, April 4 2013 DOI: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300878