Whether you love the adrenaline rush after a good run or you’re more of an early morning or evening walk type, they will both get you moving and out in the fresh air.

Cardiovascular exercise is a plus in any form — but what do the experts have to say about the differences of walking and running? Is it best to walk, run, or both?

Jodi McCone, club manager at Jetts Club Scarborough, says running and walking are similar in terms of biomechanics but very different in other areas.

“These areas of difference include impact, efficiency, kilojoule expenditure, recovery periods needed and your nutrition requirements to accompany the exercise, ” she says.

“The impact forces during walking are also relatively lower compared with running.”

Sarah Jamieson, head coach at Perth Running Club, says both running and walking are weight-bearing exercises, among other similarities. “The benefits are the same for both walking and running — weight loss, increased muscle strength, boost of energy and improving sleep — just to name a few, ” she says.

Ms McCone says walking is a great option to build into more high-intensity exercise. “Walking is great for those who are getting back into fitness or starting an exercise program as a base to build on and lead into running, ” she says. “When starting out, it’s best to begin with walking and gradually increase the intensity to a jog and then a run.”

Ben Green, coaching manager at Front Runner Sports, says while training for the HBF Run for a Reason, it’s essential to have a plan that includes how much running and walking you will do.

“Both walking and running are weight-bearing activities, how well you’re conditioned to each activity is imperative to understanding how much you can handle, ” he says.

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Talking Gait

“Biomechanically speaking, walking is refined by a double-stance phase, where a portion of the gait cycle is spent with both feet in contact with the ground, ” Ben Green says.

“Running is defined by a swing phase, where a portion of the gait cycle is spent with both feet in the air.”

Jodi McCone says the walking body acts like a pendulum, swinging along step by step over stiff legs with locked knees. “Muscles use the body’s metabolic energy created by the conversion of carbohydrates and fat for walking, ” she says.

“With running, the action involves rebounding along on compliant legs and unlocked knees — and instead of using all the body’s energy, the leg and foot have a built-in return energy system for a significant amount of energy. This relies on the Achilles and other tendons to recycle impact energy.”


© The West Australian