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Some days I jog on the treadmill for 25 min at 5.5 miles/hour, other days I walk for 45 min at 4 miles/hour. I know any exercise is good, but generally speaking, how much walking does someone have to do to equal one of their jog sessions?
-Linda, Sooke British Colombia
You’re absolutely right. General thought among health institutions in recent years has been to suggest that activity, any activity, will help combat obesity or diseases associated with unhealthy weight such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). They go on to say that “physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories”.
My interpretation of this is that people are so resistant to physical activity that institutions have more success by pleading with us to simply “move”, rather than telling us what they recommend we do at a more specific level.
Despite the AHA saying that they strive simply for “movement”, they would likely agree that not all movements are the same. Different exertions have different effects on your body, and on long enough timelines, alter your health in different ways. In the most extreme example, strength training like Arnold Schwarzenegger will produce a very different result than marathon training like Meb Keflezighi.
In your specific case, low-exertion walking will never perfectly “add up” to equal moderate intensity jogging. You could eventually find that you’ve burned a similar amount of calories, but the larger results of each kind of activity are more unique.
Benefits of Walking:
Benefits of Jogging:
- Potentially Higher Levels of Fat Loss
- Greater Energy Expenditure over the Same Period of Time
- Greater Improvement in Maximal Oxygen Uptake (VO2 Maximum)
- Greater Appetite Suppression
Benefits Found in Both
Reduced Risk of:
If you maintain a style of activity over a greater period of time you’re likely to see a more pronounced benefit (for example, most academic studies on the effect of a single style of exercise will never run shorter than 8-10 weeks). To put it simply, though, you have to do what makes you happy and what you are more likely to sustain. If you believe you will be more successful by alternating your style of exercise, more power to you! You’re only benefiting yourself by moving, regardless of whether that means walking, jogging, or alternating between the two.