You decided it’s time to get healthier and get fitter or your main goal is to lose weight. Someone tells you running is the best weight-loss workout and you start incorporating runs in your weekly schedule. A few months down the line, you already feel fantastic both physically and mentally, and your clothes fit better. Then you step on the scales and to your horror discover that not only you didn’t lose weight but you have actually put weight on. What the heck?
This is a common complaint for the folks who believed running or any other strenuous exercise would result in immediate weight loss regardless of other factors like nutrition. Or if you ask your fitness pals around they would tell you that’s because muscle weighs more than fat. Wrong!
A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat but muscle is a lot denser than fat and takes less space in your body, hence why you appear slimmer even though the scale disagrees.
In my case, when the scale went higher I was ecstatic because for years it wouldn’t bulge. Plus, it was a testament that what I was doing was working and I was getting stronger physically. And being physically stronger is very important for your health as you get older. A year down the line, however, my weight was back to where I started from but my appearance had changed. I looked so much fitter and my clothes fit so much better. I now have muscle definition in my upper arms, my calves and my abs: places where I had no hope I’d ever have muscle definition.
So what’s the case with running and weight loss? Let’s look at some facts here and compare between running and walking for weight loss.
Running as an exercise activity burns a lot of energy. It’s one of the top workouts for calorie-loss. The longer you run or the faster you run, the more energy you waste. Problem is to restore this energy, you need to consume carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source of energy. When training for a marathon, you’re told the best food to eat the night before your run is pizza. Now, an abundance of carbohydrates isn’t usually recommended for weight loss.
Dieting or minimizing one crucial food group such as carbohydrates is not recommended for regular runners. This will result in poor performance, lower endurance and physical fatigue.
Walking, on the other hand, has different energy expenditure. To walk the same miles as a runner, you would take more time to do so. The energy expenditure in walking or running is all about the speed. To burn the same calories like a runner, you have to walk at the same speed as a runner runs which is highly unlikely. Hence, the lack of immediate need of replenishing your system with an abundance of carbs.
Keep in mind that any diet requires some carbohydrates to function properly. Preferably, good carbs like oats, whole-meal products, brown rice and the likes.
And that’s the thing about weight loss. You can do all the distances in the world you can imagine, if your nutrition isn’t great, you won’t see much change in your appearance. I mentioned earlier it’s recommended for runners to eat pizza before a major run. I don’t mean the local pizza joint. You can easily make your own dough using whole-wheat flour only and fresh tomatoes – for your own pizza sauce.
There are little nutrition changes you can start making today for achieving big results. And it’s not just about weight loss. Proper nutrition ultimately helps you perform better when running or walking and prevents so many health problems later on in life.
Thing about both running and walking is they’re both working out the whole body: your legs, abs and arms. With running, you define muscle tone a lot quicker than with walking. However, gaining muscle with running alone is highly unlikely, just as it is with walking. If gaining muscle is one of your goals, then you need to add some sort of muscle-building activity to your sports routine like yoga or weight-lifting. Running and walking are both cardio workouts.
Running and walking differ in how your muscles work. With running, your muscles work harder to support the knee joint when your foot touches the ground. Walking is a little gentler on your knees and joints. Both activities help strengthen your muscles; however, gaining muscle from doing either is unlikely. My weight gain from my muscle gain was all due to me combining running with Yoga Burn.
All things said, both running and walking when combined with proper nutrition will lead to weight loss by reducing fat in your body. As walking is less strenuous than running, it’s usually recommended to do daily – half an hour to maintain your current weight and an hour and a half of brisk walking when looking to lose weight. Unlike running when you’d need to take a recovery day and especially so if increasing your distances, so your muscles can recover.
YOU REST, YOU RUST
Back in the day when I went for my first half marathon, there was a much older lady who started the marathon walking at a fast pace and managed to finish way before I did. She was in her 80s and I was in my 30s. The audience all cheered for her; I’m guessing she’s a regular marathoner. I looked at her and all I felt was admiration. Not only was she way fitter than me, a much younger person than her, her posture was way better, too! Plus, she was a testament in two things:
- You’re never too old to run a marathon
- Regular exercise keeps you physically young forever – age is just a number really
And that’s the thing about regular exercise: whichever one you choose, it’s bound to keep you healthier, younger, fitter and way more energized than not working out. If you are starting a cardio activity and you haven’t exercised for years or ever, then begin by walking daily and increase your speed and distance weekly. Taking up running after some time of brisk walking is a piece of cake.
Whichever one you go for, make sure you move every day. As the old saying: you rest, you rust!