Gema García Marcos

Updated Monday, January 29, 2024-10:50

Run or walk? It depends. Although, apparently, this answer might seem like it is opting for an 'open ending', like those films that leave us halfway between irritation and intrigue because they reach 'the end' without closing the plot, if one reads the opinions of Those who know about this,

that 'it depends' makes sense


Experts such as the Galician cardiologist Francisco R. García Fernández who, for more information, was responsible for years of giving the

previous talk to the runners participating in the Madrid Marathon

. "Running does not cure anything, although, on many occasions, it makes people feel better, because good physical condition is very rewarding. The

prescription of 'exercising' must be adapted to each personal situation, age and individual characteristics

. Walking, Instead, it is a universal 'order' that everyone understands. Walking quickly or jogging is the second step that we generally recommend."

To know more


How many minutes of exercise should we do daily to compensate for the hours we spend sitting?


How many minutes of exercise should we do daily to compensate for the hours we spend sitting?

García Fernández points out that "knowing

which of the two activities provides more benefits in the long run

for health is a

great scientific debate

for decades but that no one has managed to resolve in a clear and generally applicable way. For professional athletes, and during their active life, we have very reliable parameters to be able to measure adaptive changes, but these data, obviously, cannot be applied in the same way to be able to judge and treat people in a general population well.

Therefore, his recommendation to those who come to his consultation is that "

everyone who can exercise

. This should be

adapted to each individual and should be increased progressively

in each case. When a good level of personal comfort is achieved , you can move on to another phase: increase the pace of walking followed by trotting. Since no one is monitored at these times, the increase in speed or intensity should be

gradual and never strenuous


In this sense, he adds that "patients are increasingly more cautious and want to know everything about their abilities. Once each case has been individualized, I limit myself to a general order. First, that they


; then, when they feel comfortable, that they Walk more and

a little faster

. And, when you find yourself in an acceptable general tone and without symptoms of fatigue or pain, walk at a good pace for half an hour and, after that,

increase your pace until you break out in a sweat

. Don't I know another method. By ruling out organic anomalies and assessing the functional ones, this recommendation never hurts and

allows each person to measure their capabilities and better understand their limits

. As you can see, it's all very lyrical, but I don't run a gym and see patients with between 10 and 100 years and I have to keep them all healthy.

Professor of Sports Sciences at the European University, Vicente Javier Clemente Suárez also points out that 'it depends' as open as it is realistic: "

Running offers intensive benefits in terms of cardiovascular conditioning and calorie burning

, but it also imposes more stress on the joints and the musculoskeletal system.

Walking is gentler, suitable for all fitness levels and ages

, and still offers cardiovascular and mobility benefits. So opt for one or the other (if you have to choose between one of them) "It depends on each person's circumstances." In any case, he emphasizes, it is worth remembering that our hunter-gatherer ancestors combined walking (for long trips and tracking prey) with moments of running (to hunt or flee from predators). "This suggests that a combination of both activities is optimal for our physiology."

Clemente Suárez lists the

specific benefits of the race and also its cons

. "It significantly improves cardiovascular health, lung capacity and bone density. It is effective for weight loss and stress management. On the other side of the scale we find a higher risk of impact injuries, such as tendonitis, "stress fractures, or knee and back problems. It is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions (such as serious heart problems)."

And also about


: "Lower risk of injury, accessible to all ages and fitness levels, improves circulation, mental health and can be done anywhere. It is less efficient for rapid weight loss and does not provide the same level of intense cardiovascular training as running."


should you not run

? "If you have an injury that may be aggravated by impact, such as knee or back problems. During an acute illness, especially if it affects the respiratory system or balance. If you have a medical condition that contraindicates high-impact exercise "Or in extreme weather conditions without adequate preparation."

And when is walking not enough? "When fitness


require higher caloric expenditure and more intense cardiovascular training. If you are training for a specific event that requires running (such as a marathon). When looking to significantly improve endurance or leg strength."

For Agustín Rubio, CEO of Tigers Running Club, it is unquestionable that "any form of movement performed correctly, both in quantity and intensity, will always be positive for health. What's more, there are minimums that we must necessarily comply with, which are those that the WHO itself recommends

between 150 and 300 minutes of aerobic activity of moderate intensity

. These minimums, from my point of view, should even be seen as an act of personal hygiene and physical exercise is the way to 'cleanse ourselves inside both physically and mentally.

Rubio points out that, to delve deeper into the comparison between walking and running, "we can analyze all the effects that each of these activities generate in our body and we would find scientific evidence that shows that

running generates more benefits than walking. Benefits at the metabolic level, cardiovascular, functional, endocrine, mental, nervous

... And it is also shown that these adaptations and improvements are achieved with less practice time and in a shorter period of time."

However, he emphasizes, when transmitting this it is important to do so responsibly and avoid generalizing. "Each person's reality may be different and so may their needs.

The risk of injury when running is much higher than when walking

, if done incorrectly or excessively.

Therefore, it is essential to put yourself in the hands of qualified professionals. and experienced

to know what is most beneficial for each person based on the study of their initial physical condition, their sports and clinical history. And it is also very important in order to design the roadmap to progress and improve in a healthy way." .

In the specific case of

cancer patients

, Soraya Casla, doctor in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, creator of the 'Exercise and Cancer' project and author of 'In the face of cancer, move' (Vergara, 2024) is committed to going further beyond the walk. "The benefit sought in people diagnosed with cancer with oncological exercise is aimed at improving physical capacity and strength. In that sense, walking can help maintain a general state of health, but it has been seen that it is not sufficient to improve cardiovascular capacity, strength, functionality, or nerve regeneration. Therefore, it is necessary to have specific protocols, combining cardiovascular exercise, strength exercise, neural exercise and stretching, and individualized according to the level and needs of each person.

Making an initial assessment, knowing the clinical and sports history or adapting the exercises to the limitations that patients may have

after some treatments are fundamental issues when generating effective programs that improve the health and quality of life of patients



So what are we left with, running or walking? It


. From our physical condition, from our objectives, but, above all, from the individualized recommendations of specialists in the matter. Health is not played!