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A fast-walking woman in her 70s nearly grabbed the overweight man as he jogged on the indoor track at the Premier Health and Fitness Center in Tallahassee. The man managed to stay ahead and completed 13 laps for the first time. Thirteen laps on the inside lane made it a mile.

The fast-walking woman was an inspiration to the man.

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While he wished nothing but the best for the woman and her gym colleagues in their quest for self-improvement, he was admittedly also thrilled to see another fitness member plodding along the track – an observation met with skepticism by the woman usually favorable to man.

MAN: There was a guy on the track today who was even bigger than me.

WOMAN: Of course.

MAN: No, really…

WOMAN: Of course.

Given the man’s added weight and the potential for old orthopedic issues (ankle sprains, heel spurs, etc.), even with the perfectly flat track surface of the air-conditioned fitness center, he wondered if – like the older, fast woman – it would be better to walk than run.

What form of exercise suited him best?

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If weight loss were the primary goal, running would certainly burn many more calories per minute than walking.

The human preference for jogging also coincided with recommendations from the University of Wyoming’s Exercise Physiology Laboratory. A study at the school, which was published in the Journal of Obesity (yes, that’s a real journal), included nine experienced runners and 10 committed walkers among the participants.

The researchers found that the runners had significantly higher blood levels of peptide YY – a hormone known to suppress appetite. The walkers’ blood levels did not reflect an increase in peptide YY levels.

The study suggested that running would lead to faster weight loss than walking.

In another study titled “Greater weight loss from running than walking” and published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers, combining survey data from 15,237 walkers and 32 215 runners registered in the national study on the health of runners and walkers, came up with the same conclusion: for people seeking to control their weight, running far outweighs walking.

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But walking – especially brisk walking – has some advantages over running.

In a study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (Journal of the American Heart Association), runners and walkers were found to be at lower risk for high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol profiles, diabetes and heart disease. cardiac than their sedentary peers.

However, with the same energy expenditure, the researchers found that walkers reduced their risk of heart disease by 9.3%, compared to 4.5% for runners.

With low-impact walking, there is generally less risk of injury than with running – although walking is probably even more risky than the low-impact cardiovascular exercise preferred by a man’s wife.

A big fan of swimming, she recommended that he, like her, spend less time on the track and more time in the pool at the fitness center. She encouraged him to swim a few lengths in the large pool – and to stop overeating at night.

The man got defensive about this last recommendation.

MAN: I’m serious about cutting back on late night snacks.

WOMAN: Of course.

MAN: No, really…

WOMAN: Really??

Had he participated in the study at the Exercise Physiology Lab in Wyoming, researchers would have had to compile pizza crusts and chicken wing bones in addition to drawing blood for hormone levels. YY peptide.

Mark Ryan

Mark Ryan, RN, and his wife, Anabel Perez, are members of Premier Health and Fitness Center in Tallahassee.

More reading

Obesity Journal:

The Atlantic: “Study: Walking can be as good as running” – The Atlantic

The Guardian: “Brisk walking is healthier than running – scientists” –

Women’s Health: “How many calories can I burn walking or running?” –

Healthy Living: “Why is walking the most popular form of exercise?” »

Consumer Reports: The Benefits of Running vs. Walking

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