Running is great — unless it’s not. Despite the attention our culture gives to running as a fantastic exercise, it’s not the best workout for everyone.
The good news? You can slow down your pace for a walking workout that might be even better than running. NASM-certified personal trainer and runner Samara Hantman explains the following ways that walking can beat running in a footrace any day.
1. Low impact
Let’s face it — running can be hard on the body because it’s high impact. Walking, on the other hand, is about as low impact as exercise can be, so it’s a good option for beginners or anyone who needs a little TLC for their joints. “It’s a great way to get calorie burn, but it’s gentle on the body,” Hantman explains.
2. Easy to incorporate into your day
Part of the problem with a running routine is figuring out where it fits in your schedule, particularly if you’re busy with work or kids. Hantman says, however, that walking is something that anyone can do for 10 minutes at a time, even between workplace meetings.
3. Not painful
The wheezing and impact of running is a recipe for discomfort. If you’re in pain while walking, though, you’re doing it wrong. Knowing that a walking workout is a space for body recovery rather than torture is enough to make it onto the schedules of even those who hate to exercise, Hantman says.
4. Strengthens core and joints
“If you have joint pain or problems, particularly in your lower body and core, running can leave lasting negative effects on your joints and bones,” Hantman explains. Walking, however, strengthens and tones through the muscles and joints of the lower body and core without risk of damage.
5. Low risk of injury
Speaking of damage, walking is wonderfully low risk. “The probability of developing injuries from walking is very slim — although there is always a risk, as with any exercise,” she says. Running? Not so much. Between shin splints, muscle tears, joint damage and back pain, running can turn into a pretty serious injury.
6. Unlikely to burnout
Have you ever done a workout that was so miserable, you dreaded it enough to quit? Running is like that for many people. Hantman says, however, that walking is one of those few exercises that is unlikely to make you burnout from exercise altogether.
7. Nothing is more natural
The act of walking is one of the most natural things the human body can do. Working out the body in its natural state — as opposed to some of the jolting motions of running — can turn into a pleasant activity that can make you feel more at home in your body.
8. You can take it anywhere
“As long as you remember to walk with purpose, walking is one of those cool workouts that you can literally take anywhere,” she says. Take it on a trip, take it to work or take it to your kids’ school — it doesn’t matter. You’d look a little weird running in place in the carpool lane at your kids’ school, though.
9. Walking isn’t exclusive
You can’t run with just anyone. Running requires a partner with the same fitness and interest level. Walking buddies, however, can be a grandma or a 3-year-old. Hantman concludes that walking is wonderful because it’s not exclusive, and you can participate in a workout no matter who you’re hanging out with.