|Run, Don’t Walk? Walking Is Good for You. Running Is Better.|
Cindy Kuzma - The New York Times
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November 16, 2023
Walking is among the world’s most popular forms of exercise, and far and away the most favored in the United States. And for good reason: It’s simple, accessible and effective. Taking regular walks lowers the risk of many health problems including anxiety, depression, diabetes and some cancers.
However, once your body becomes accustomed to walking, you might want to pick up the pace, said Alyssa Olenick, an exercise physiologist and postdoctoral research fellow in the energy metabolism lab at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
If you can nudge even part of your walk into a run, it offers many of the same physical and mental benefits in far less time. But just how much better is running? And how can you turn your walk into a run?
Why Walking Is Good for You
When considering the health benefits of an activity like walking or running, there are two connected factors to keep in mind. One is the workout’s effect on your fitness — that is, how it improves the efficiency of your heart and lungs. The second is the ultimate positive outcome: Does it help you live a longer life?
The gold standard for assessing fitness is VO2 max, a measure of how much oxygen your body uses when you’re exercising vigorously. It’s also a strong predictor of life span, said Dr. Allison Zielinski, a sports cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.
Even doing a small amount of activity — like taking slow steps throughout the day — somewhat improves VO2 max compared with staying completely sedentary, according to a 2021 study of 2,000 middle-aged men and women. But bigger benefits come when you begin walking faster, which raises your heart and breathing rates.
If you’re working hard enough that you can still talk but not sing, you’ve crossed from light to moderate physical activity. Studies suggest that moderate activity strengthens your heart and creates new mitochondria, which produce fuel for your muscles, said Dr. Olenick.
Read the rest at The New York Times
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