Your Pace or Mine?

Coronavirus lockdown measures have led to a hike in the number of people putting on their running shoes and going for a jog. It is great to see so many people adopting healthy habits but I can’t help but feel ashamed for not joining them.

I have never really been a huge running fanatic apart from a year or two at university when I would run 5k two or three times a week (who WAS I?!) Nowadays, if a Zombie apocalypse were to break out, I am hoping it’s the slow kind because I cannot run to save my life. Literally.

One would assume that running is the supreme fitness and weight-loss method. Well you may be right. But you also might be wrong. There have been numerous studies in the long-running (get it?!) investigation into crowning the better mode of exercise but to no avail. Why? Because the benefits of each are heavily dependent on the end-goal.

The main sell of walking is that it’s doable for everyone regardless of fitness level. We walk on a daily basis to the shops, or in this climate, from our beds to the sofa. Jokes aside, it is the most easily accessible form of exercise. Regular walking is proven to reduce resting heat rate levels and increase overall health. Whilst running is also good for reducing heart rate, running in excess can put unnecessary strain on the heart’s muscles and cause long term scarring.

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Despite being a great form of exercise, running unfortunately leaves people prone to more injury. A slight misstep or bad running form can lead to injuries such as shin splints, runners knee and tendonitis. Whilst running, our joints and tendons are put under significant impact, sometimes up to 2.5 times our bodyweight. In comparison, walking is much kinder on our joints with impact being only 1.2 times our bodyweight. In short, less impact = less chance of injury. Needless to say, it’s always important to warm up and stretch after any exercise in order to reduce chances of injury.

Now let’s be honest, the words “fun” and “run” should not belong in the same sentence. Whilst running (and other exercise) does release endorphins, I can’t ever say I have been able to enjoy the outdoors whilst running. I’m usually battling through sweat and trying not to cry. There’s little chance for runners to really enjoy their surroundings, trying to hit a certain speed/time. A brisk walk on the other hand, gives you a chance to really look at your surroundings and enjoy the environment. It makes exercise more of a recreational activity than a mission towards a time or distance.

Of course, a minor benefit of walking is that you can do it in pretty much any attire you want. Have you ever seen anyone running in jeans or a dress? Of course not. Due to lower intensity and less range of movement, walking attire can be whatever you want.

Walking in fancy dress in encouraged…

Now this is by no means a post dismissing running. There are great health benefits and may people prefer and enjoy running to walking. Health wise, running is much more efficient. However, it’s not for everyone. Which is fine.

The underlying message? Right now it’s important to stay as active as possible . So whether you’re a walker or a runner (or a skipper, jumper or slider), keep at it! Don’t feel that walking isn’t good enough. Don’t feel that not running for a certain amount of time or distance is not good enough. We’re all different so keep active in whatever way you like (as long as it’s 2m away from everyone else)!

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