These days, there is an overwhelming amount of information on how to stay in shape, depending on one's personal preferences, lifestyles, and health considerations, among other factors. Running and walking, perhaps the simplest forms of exercise, provide one of the most effective and beneficial workouts in what's commonly referred to as interval training.
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Running vs. Walking: Which is Best?
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living, 63% of Canadians are not active enough to achieve the health benefits they need from exercise. The recommended goal for physical activity is just one hour per day to maintain good health. For the average Canadian, the message is clear: Get out there and start moving!
The debate over whether running is better for one's health than walking, and vice versa, has its advocates on both sides. Some doctors, like Richard Neil (MEd, CDE) from "MedicineNet.com" state that as long as a person burns the same number of calories (that is, more calories than one consumes), then it doesn't matter whether one chooses to walk or run since both are equally beneficial.
On the other hand, recent research shows that running one mile burns about 30 per cent more calories than walking one mile. Other experts are more convinced, such as Tara Gidus, who breaks it down this way: running is more difficult than walking, which causes the muscles to engage more and exert greater effort as well as increases metabolism. Greater shock absorption caused by running has also been linked to burning more calories.
No matter which side is correct, it is well known that running improves cardiorespiratory fitness (the ability of the heart to pump stronger and more efficiently and the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently) by increasing the activity of the enzymes and hormones that stimulate the muscles and heart. Its many heath benefits include: weight loss, anti-aging, prevention of muscle and bone loss, prevention of stroke, lowering high cholesterol levels, improved immune system, and stress reduction.
Interval Training: One of the Most Effective Workouts
Since it's clear that running and walking are both good for one's health, it only makes sense to combine them in one's normal exercise routine. Interval training (IT) is simply, "short bursts of movement alternated with slower activity," says Marlene Habib, a certified trainer in "Ten things to know about interval and other fitness training," from CBC.ca. She cites a McMaster University study that suggests IT boots muscular endurance, leading to more calorie burning, and helps stave off boredom due to the variety of movement.
There are many ways one could structure IT, depending on one's ultimate fitness goals. For example, here's one:
Amby Burfoot, a former marathon runner, notes that interval training is the "still-unsurpassed method for achieving maximum results" used by world-class runners in her article "The Run/Walk Plan" from "RunnersWorld.com". They run hard for 1 to 5 minutes, then walk or jog slowly until they're ready to run hard again.
Some Tips for Interval Training
Whether just starting to run or a more experienced runner, interval training provides a good balance of variety to an everyday workout, adding to one's "training arsenal," according to Habib. She outlines a few helpful tips for incorporating IT into fitness training, including the following.
Since running and walking both provide great health and fitness benefits, why not incorporate both into workouts? Interval training has been proven to be effective for burning fat and weight loss and promoting strength and endurance.