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Benefits of walking: How walking can help runners

Updated on January 13, 2012
A brisk walk can be used by runners in a variety of ways
A brisk walk can be used by runners in a variety of ways

In terms of fat-burning capabilities and maintaining fitness, running is superior to walking.

Indeed, those who enjoy running are far more active and fit than mere pedestrians. In light of this, can walking be beneficial to runners?

The simple answer is 'yes.' Walking benefits runners far beyond merely rehabilitating the injured and infirm among them.

It is a low-intensity physical activity that can be incorporated into an exercise program – or at least as part of a warm-up program.

Today, walking as exercise entails much more than strolling in the nearby park. That describes one type of walking – lifestyle walking. The other types of walking include:

  • Fitness walking,
  • High-energy (power) walking
  • Walks-and-runs
  • Race-walks.

With so many variations to an activity that we take for granted, walking is a good supplemental activity for runners to utilize.

Rehabilitation and recovery

Running is a high-impact activity that places strain on the body. Every so often, runners may break down or simply require a rest period from such intense activity. Apart from that, runners may simply need to restart a training program after being laid low by an injury not related to running.

Walking provides an avenue for rehabilitation by allowing some activity to be undertaken without placing stress on a vulnerable body. In addition, lifestyle walking can be used on rest days to maintain physical activity without over-training.

Interval training

The modern paradigm for running activity is interval training. This activity requires persons to undertake activity of moderate-to-high-intensity followed by a specified period of rest before the high-intensity activity is resumed. Walking/ jogging are usually utilized for rest and recovery, since they are appropriate low-intensity activities.

FIFA’s fitness test for soccer referees actually includes a short period of walking in intervals. An example of using walking in interval training would be to run 100 m in 15 seconds followed by brisk walking for 30 seconds.

The types of walks best utilized in interval training are high-energy walks, since they allow for recovery without causing a drastic drop in heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.

The Interval Training Manual: 520+ Interval Running Workouts for All Sports And Abilities
The Interval Training Manual: 520+ Interval Running Workouts for All Sports And Abilities

A comprehensive collection of sport-specific interval runs that can help coaches of any sport take advantage of the innumerable benefits of sound interval training. Includes all target and recovery time calculations, along with a progressive plan and weekly training options.


Lower impact on the body

Using a bit of walking in an exercise program helps to prevent strain on bones and joints caused by a lot of running.

While the high-impact of running strengthens the bones and joints over time, too much of it can be damaging.

To mitigate this impact, runners may use power-walking or even race-walking to reduce the overall impact on their bodies.


In power walking and race-walking (with emphasis on the latter), there is much more emphasis placed on technique.

Running also has a technique, despite it also being a movement most persons have performed at one point or another. Unfortunately, many runners either do not pay attention to running form or sacrifice it when fatigue sets in.

The reduced demands of walking make it easier for you to develop better coordination and improve the efficiency of body movement by focusing attention on proper technique.

Incorporation of walking helps you to tailor a program for your goals

As a low-intensity activity, using walking makes it easier to customize your exercise program depending on your goals. Whether you are a beginning runner or a seasoned athlete, utilizing this as a form of low-intensity exercise allows you to design a more robust, realistic and complete workout plan.


Walking and running complement each other. Those who prefer to walk should not be afraid to incorporate higher-intensity activity in their routine. Likewise, runners should not think that it’s beneath them to walk as part of their training.

Proper running form


Submit a Comment

  • SpiffyD profile image

    SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the comment Day. I think the benefits of a decent outdoor walk are not fully appreciated. Glad that you enjoyed it.

  • DayLeeWriter profile image

    Debra Cornelius 5 years ago from Georgia

    I love to get out for a great walk, though admit that some days it is a struggle to get out the door! Once I get moving I really enjoy the mental and spiritual benefits as well as the physical! Great hub thanks for sharing!!!!!

  • SpiffyD profile image

    SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the comment and feedback freelance. I learned about interval training through referee training. The great thing is that interval training doesn't always have to be high-intensity. For beginners, walking and jogging at predetermined intervals (as opposed to jogging whenever you feel like) is a great to start.

  • freelanceauthor profile image

    freelanceauthor 5 years ago

    I just learned about the interval training from this hub. Thanks and voted up

  • kehussy profile image

    kehussy 6 years ago from Houston, Texas, USA

    I knew that running has a positive impact on the body but I am surprised to know that it affects us in more ways than one. Thanks for sharing!