Healthy Living

To run or to walk: Which workout routine is more effective for you?

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If you prefer walkng, to achieve your weight loss goal, you’ll have to: 1, walk long distances, 2, walk faster, or 3, eat less but healthy. illustation by chrisogon atukwasize 

By Jacinta Odongo

Posted  Monday, February 17   2014 at  02:00
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Walking and running are the cheapest and most popular aerobic exercises for any person. Most of us embark on these fitness exercises with the aim of losing weight and improving our health. However, there are many things that we should consider before starting these workout routines.
Ritah Nafula, a business-lady who works out at Muyenga Fitness Club, believes that running is better than fast-pace walking.

“Both exercises are excellent but I prefer running because it is more vigorous and intense. Before I gave birth, I used to run every morning and I made it a daily habit such that I would feel anxious whenever I skip a day. After my delivery, my doctor advised me to go slow on vigorous exercise so I opted for fast-pace walking. I started with a 30-minutes’ walk every evening and my major aim was to lose the baby fat especially around my tummy, hips and thighs,” says Nafula.

If one has done regular exercise up until the end of her pregnancy and her baby’s birth went smoothly, most medical doctors always advise one to do some light exercise but in moderation.
“At first, I almost gave up since I never saw any change until one day I decided to hire a personal trainer to accompany me while jogging. I have never looked back since then although at first I felt so much pain around my back and my body muscles. Nowadays, I run alone and I sleep like a baby. Besides, I am happy with my body since all my muscles are toned up the way I always wanted,” she explains.
According to Norman Ninsiima, a gym instructor at Hotel International 2000, those who do not wish to run can obtain the same health and fitness benefits by walking but its impact is slow.

“It is all about running because the more you run, the more calories you burn but, on the other hand, walking is a good exercise for those who wish to start or those with health problems. Whenever we do these workouts, we must ensure that we sweat because it helps us to exercise the heart and stave-off sickness by opening the body pores which removes toxins and wastes. For the overweight, walking can be less stressful on the body but those who desire can slowly build up to running,” explains Ninsiima.
In order to benefit from a workout, it has to be one that you enjoy and will do on a daily basis or at least four times a week. If you prefer walking, you might have to walk a little faster and for longer distances or eat a little less to achieve your weight goal compared to running.
“Fast-pace walking has the same benefits as running but it can take time for it to be achieved thus most of the time people who engage in it give up easily. Unlike walking, running also helps to burn calories three times and for that case, it helps to control appetite since it regulates and suppresses our appetite hormones,” he adds.

Despite all the benefits associated with both exercises, people should also keep in mind that too much exercise can be dangerous for our health.
“For instance, going full-speed running might increase injury risk especially when running on top of a hill. Working out can be uncomfortable, especially when one begins, but it should never hurt. People should either increase or decrease their running pace depending on their age and health. If a child is below 15 years he or she should not be overstrained with exercise whether it is running or walking. The same applies to the elderly, that is people falling in the age group of 50 years and above since their body takes time to adapt to new changes,” says Dr Emmanuel Ewochu, an orthopaedist attached to Makerere University College of Health Sciences.

People should also know that good exercise goes with eating a balanced diet and drinking lots of water at least 40 minutes before the exercise and immediately after doing the work out to restore the used energy.

So how much is too much exercise?
Dr Emmanuel Ewochu, an orthopaedist, says exercise is good but if not well thought out or supervised, can result in injury even at the outset.
“Any active musculoskeletal part is prone to injury and normally this depends on type of activity ie, walking or running among others. Contact and high velocity sport gives more injury risk and therefore one needs to do it at least thrice in a week but not every day as some people do. Also, when one does frequent activity with less rest he or she is definitely prone to more injury, so rest is a key element in exercise,” says Ewochu.

Preparation or preconditioning that is regular training and warm up exercises are important when doing exercise as it helps to minimise injury. He advises people to consider growth intervals since rapidly growing skeleton usually gets characteristic injuries especially at the growth plates of the hip and the knee.

“I have attended to many cases of ill-prepared marathon enthusiasts two days following the run either complaining of thigh, leg or ankle pains but in sharp contrast, elite marathon runners feel no such effect due to their training programme. People should know that they can get stress fracture which is usually sustained if the bone gets cumulative injury that outstrips the healing process. This is a common injury in marching soldiers who get metatarsal stress fractures,” he explains.

To prevent the above injuries, it is better for one to feed on a balanced diet, keep well-hydrated, prepare and warm up before doing any exercises and also rest if one feels any pain. People should know their limits physically and health-wise, any persistent pain should be attended to by an orthopaedic surgeon but not just any doctor.

odongoj@ug.nationmedia.com