Brisk walking and jogging: Benefits, disadvantages and research

Brisk walking and jogging are both categorized as aerobic exercises. However, these two low-impact physical activities have a few differences to note. Aerobic exercise involves working for large muscle groups in a continuous, rhythmic movement. 

As brisk walking and jogging are both healthy activity options and good workouts, the choice of which one to add to your exercise routine comes down to your personal preference and fitness goals.

What describes brisk walking?

Firstly, brisk walking refers to a fast walking strategy performed to increase body activity levels or a way to ease oneself into a more active lifestyle. It is basically just walking at a fast pace in an energetic and brisk manner.

Contrary to other forms of exercise, brisk walking promotes a minimal risk of injury and is considered a low-cost activity. 

An ideal brisk walking should cover a speed of at least 3 to 4 miles per hour. To elaborate further, brisk walking does not refer to a casual stroll or slow-paced walk. 

For you to recognize if you are brisk walking, you should try to sing while walking; if you can’t because of breathing difficulties, then you are doing it correctly; brisk walking allows you to talk but not sing. 

Brisk walking can create pressure in your heart and lungs, which allows you to develop and improve your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. 

Generally, when you take a brisk walk several times a week, you may gain a wide range of health benefits, including a drop in blood pressure and a lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes [1]. 

Speed of brisk walking

One research study defines the minimum speed for moderate-intensity brisk walking as about 100 steps per minute for adults under age 60, which is around three miles per hour or 4.8 kilometers per hour [2].

A person at a high fitness level may not be in a moderate-intensity exercise zone but at a pace of four miles an hour,  a 15-minute mile, or even faster to get into the zone, which is equivalent to about 6.4 kilometers per hour. 

The table below shows the average walking speeds categorized by different age groups and sex. Also, the average walking speed declines as age increases. 

Generally, the average walking speed for adults is around 3 miles or 4.8 kilometers per hour. Then, the expected walking speed starts to slow down when adults age.

AgeMiles (Kilometers) Per Hour for FemalesMiles (Kilometers) Per Hour For Males
20-293.0 (4.83)3.04 (4.89)
30-393.0 (4.83)3.2 (5.15)
40-493.11 (5.01)3.2 (5.15)
50-592.93 (4.72)3.2 (5.15)
60-692.77 (4.46)3.0 (4.83)
70-792.53 (4.07)2.82 (4.54)
80-892.1 (3.38)2.17 (3.49)

How do you explain jogging?

Jogging is another form of exercise that involves running at a slow and rhythmic speed, which is technically less than running but higher than walking. Unlike running, jogging uses less energy, so there is less stress as well.

Furthermore, jogging is considered one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise and is quite popular as an invaluable form of maintaining overall health [3]. 

However, jogging or running also does have a certain amount of risk, similar to many different types of cardiovascular workouts. Hence, you should know your own body limits.

This cardiovascular exercise can build and increase endurance as a way to prepare for other types of sporting activities. It is like a warm-up exercise. 

Jogging is widely practiced all over the fitness world and sports; in fact, almost all types of professional athletes perform jogging to warm up their muscles and build cardio strength. 

In some cases, some athletes prefer to jog as a competition in and of itself, like a triathlon or marathon. 

There are running or jogging competitions, mainly differentiated by the running surface, such as track competitions, cross-country competitions, and road competitions. 

The most popular of all competitions is the marathon, an extreme test of endurance where joggers run more than 26 miles or 25 kilometers.

Meanwhile, races on tracks and cross-country running can be of varying lengths, commonly depending on age or skill level. Cross-country running is running over an uneven surface, like grass or hard-packed dirt.

how do you explain jogging

Which is better, brisk walking or jogging?

Many studies have shown that regular brisk walking and jogging may help with obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer. 

Some of the major health benefits of brisk walking and jogging are the following:

1. Get fit by burning more calories

Regular brisk walking or jogging or running can play a role in getting you fit by burning more calories. 

When you exercise, you burn calories from your excess weight. The good news is that calorie burning continues even after you stop exercising.

Studies have shown that brisk walking or jogging can boost “afterburn,” which is the number of calories you burn after exercise. 

Hence, all you need to do is a brisk walk or run moderately to enjoy the benefits long after you stop exercising [4]. 

2. Improves mood and makes you happier

When you exercise regularly, you have probably heard or experienced the “runner’s high”, which is a good feeling that all runners may experience after doing physical activity. 

The runner’s high is often caused by the release of feel-good hormones called endocannabinoids.

As a result, regular exercise contributes to protecting you from depression and helping you cope with anxiety and stress. 

In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the researchers found that having only 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks can boost sleep quality, mood, and concentration [5]. 

3. Boosts vitamin D levels

Running or brisk walking outdoors are excellent physical activities to boost your body’s vitamin D levels.

In fact, despite vitamin D’s natural source, which is the sun, there are still many people deficient in it, especially those from countries with no sun 24/7. In the U.S., there is about 41.6 percent of the population who are deficient in vitamin D. 

Being deficient in vitamin D may result in cardiovascular disease, bone pain, muscle weakness and a certain kind of cancer. Jogging and brisk walking outdoors is one way to combat this.

4. Keeps eyes healthy

A 2013 research reported that those who briskly walked or jogged an average of five miles on a daily basis had a 41 percent decreased risk of developing cataracts and age-related vision loss or even blindness. 

In another earlier study, a researcher came up with the same conclusion based on a large, long-term National Runners Health Study. 

The researcher found that the more you walked or ran, the less likely you have to be diagnosed with cataracts from the study’s six-year follow-up period. 

The study reported that cataract risk lowered significantly among male runners with increased mileage.

In the follow-up research, the researcher broadened the participant pool to include women runners, as well as regular walkers of both sexes. The risk reduction found is equal between men and women [6].

5. Reduces the risk of cancer 

You can lower your risk of cancer by simply brisk walking and jogging. While brisk walking and jogging cannot cure cancer, these two physical activities contribute to helping you prevent cancer. 

Many studies also suggest that running can help improve the quality of life while you are undergoing chemotherapy.

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6. Promotes longevity: added more years of life

Just by exercising for only a minimum amount of time – 30 minutes, five times a week – you will probably live longer. 

Many studies conducted show that people may benefit from simply brisk walking or jogging, particularly people suffering from any cardiovascular disease or cancer.

In a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers found that runners and brisk walkers tend to live longer compared to those who do not perform the exercises on a daily basis.  

Backing the first research, another study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology discovered that running or brisk walking for even five to ten minutes every day can substantially lower the risk of death from all diseases, especially cardiovascular disease.

7. Helps stay active in the elderly

Remaining active during old age is a good thing, and brisk walking and jogging may help improve mobility and other health parameters in older adults. 

According to a research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, older adults who had a habit of brisk walking or jogging in their youth were more mobile and independent during their old age.

8. Helps fight the common cold

With only a quick, 30-minute workout, you can surely stimulate and promote a stronger immune system. Having a strong immune system means you can prevent yourself from catching a cold. 

Moreover, running and brisk walking for around 30 to 45 minutes daily can enhance a person’s immunity and help them fight off most diseases and illnesses [7].

9. Improves sleep in post-menopausal women 

Improving sleep is another health benefit you can get from brisk walking and jogging, particularly in post-menopausal women. 

Numerous post-menopausal women experience hot flushes and sweat at night. Performing a brisk walk or jog may help post-menopausal women fall asleep more easily.

Health research: Brisk walking vs. jogging 

One research study confirms that brisk walking lowers the risk of developing heart disease more effectively compared to running. 

The study further explained that when the energy expenditure of both activities is balanced out, brisk walking is much more effective. 

By comparing the data from two studies involving exactly 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers, the researchers found out that having the same amount of energy used, walkers experienced greater health benefits compared to runners. 

The participants included those aged 18 to 80 and were observed over a six-year timeline. Results found:

  • Heart disease – according to the findings, running can lower the risk of heart disease by 4.5 percent, while brisk walking is much higher, which is 9.3 percent of reduced risk. 
  • Heart disease risk factors – in terms of calories removed, brisk walking is also found to have a stronger impact on heart disease risk factors. 
  • Blood pressure – the risk of first-time high blood pressure was lowered by 4.2 percent by running and 7.2 percent by brisk walking.
  • High cholesterol – for the first-time high cholesterol, the risk was lowered by 4.3 percent by running and 7 percent by brisk walking.
  • Diabetes – the risk of first-time diabetes was also lowered by approximately 12 percent by both walking and running.

According to Dr. Paul Williams, the study leader from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, walking and running gives an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running as they both involve similar muscle groups and activities performed at different intensities. 

She further explained that the more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the more health benefits they could gain.

Having the same amount of energy expended between the two groups can result in comparable health benefits. 

As the majority of the population always looks for an excuse not to exercise, like due to a busy schedule, now they have a straightforward option to run or to walk and invest in their future health, Williams added.

The research is reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology [8].

What are the disadvantages of brisk walking?

Although brisk walking and jogging are promising physical activities, they both have some disadvantages to health as well. For brisk walking, these include the following: 

Neglects calorie burn

If you are aiming to lose significant body fat in a short period of time through brisk walking, you better think twice. 

Running or jogging at a low to moderate pace, which is five miles per hour, may only burn nearly twice as many calories in an hour for a 135-pound woman compared to walking at a low to moderate pace, three miles per hour, for a similar amount of time, 518 calories versus 267 calories respectively.

Consequently, running or jogging is an excellent form of exercise for weight loss. The physical activity can burn a significant amount of calories that may help you continue to burn more calories long after a workout. 

Plus, running or jogging may help suppress appetite and target harmful belly fat [9]. What’s more is that running or jogging has many other health benefits, and it is simple to begin with. 

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Reduces cardiovascular fitness

You can get more aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health and protection from vigorous-intensity exercise compared to moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking, according to a research review published in The American Journal of Cardiology. 

The comparison of epidemiologic studies and clinical trials was conducted over two years. Also, the review also found some improvements in diastolic blood pressure and glucose control relative to exercise intensity.

Neglects the upper body

Brisk waking may only target the muscles of the lower body, with the potential exception of engagement to the core musculature [10]. 

For a more well-rounded training program, you should consider circuit training which recruits all of the muscles of the body and increases lean muscle mass. As a result, you burn more calories even when you are sitting. 

Reduces after-burn effect

An increased calorie burn following exercise is related to elevated post-exercise oxygen consumption, EPOC. 

In a 2005 research study published by the European Journal of Applied Physiology, the researchers compared EPOC levels following circuit training and treadmill exercise of equivalent intensity. 

In the end, they found that circuit training produced greater energy costs during the early phases of EPOC. Therefore, a circuit training program of the same intensity as brisk walking burns more calories overall.

Have negative effects on appetite

As you know, various kinds of exercise affect appetite in different ways. 

The researchers at the University of Wyoming conducted a study that compared the self-selected meals consumed following running and brisk walking exercises. 

The findings indicated runners consumed 500 fewer calories compared to the control group at rest, whereas walkers consumed only 150 fewer calories than the resting group. 

Despite that brisk walking can provide some reduction in the appetite, more intense exercises can greater modulate appetite hormones for decreased consumption. The research results were published by the Journal of Obesity. 

Too strenuous

Brick walking offers insufficient exercise for certain people; however, it might be too strenuous for others. 

People who have been living a sedentary lifestyle for a long time or are obese are often encouraged to start exercising by walking and then brisk walking.

Others who have existing injuries, particularly to their knees, feet, or ankles, should consider water aerobics

A 2006 research study from the University of Utah compared walking on land to water walking and found that both walking on land and in the water have equally significant reductions in body weight, body fat percentage, and girth. 

The findings were published by the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 

Are there any disadvantages of jogging?

It’s no wonder that jogging remains a popular choice among fitness enthusiasts. However, in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, it’s essential to consider both sides of the coin. Are there any potential drawbacks to this seemingly perfect exercise?

Can damage weight-bearing joints

According to the report of the American College of Sports Medicine, jogging or running can damage weight-bearing joints and it is one of the most serious disadvantages associated with this physical activity. 

Health experts have explained that the amount of force placed on joints during a job or run is four times greater than that which occurs at rest,  which makes it particularly dangerous for people who have existing joint damage. 

People who are overweight, obese, or who have joint alignment issues, may also be at high risk for damage to weight-bearing joints when running or jogging.

Using specialized treadmills that can lower joint impact and incorporating other kinds of non-impact exercises, may be beneficial when it comes to decreasing the risk of joint damage.

Increases risk of heart attack

Having an exercise routine, like running or jogging, can reduce your risk of a heart attack by as much as 45 percent, provided by the New York Times Health Guides [11]. 

While the claim above is true for most healthy adults, some health researchers reported that people who are new to exercise or have been diagnosed with heart disease in the past may increase their chances of a heart attack by jogging. 

While running, there is a high demand for the heart to supply blood, and when the heart cannot keep up with the demand because of hardened or clogged arteries, a heart attack may occur. 

You must consult first a trained cardiologist to ensure your safety before starting a new running regimen, especially for those with heart problems. 

Excessive sun exposure

Many runners prefer to perform physical activity outdoors, thus resulting in greater sun exposure.

Runners may be at high risk for certain types of skin cancer, not just because of greater amounts of sun exposure but also due to drops in their immune system function. 

Wearing a set of protective clothing and appropriate types of sunblock are useful in preventing the serious disadvantages of running. 

People who run in moderation have a lower risk of a drop in their immune system function and subsequent skin cancer risk.

Health research: brisk walking versus jogging
Photograph: Iakobchuk/Envato

Have potential for breast sagging

Here’s for ladies out there: jogging or running may contribute to breast sagging. 

Generally, women in sports or fitness wear sports bras while running to prevent the pain related to breast bouncing. While the discomfort may discourage some women from running, the pain is not the only drawback. 

In fact, it is suggested that running can cause irreversible breast sagging in women. Wearing a supportive sports bra can usually be enough to prevent this damage. Therefore, it is a must for all women runners.

Recommendations 

In achieving moderate-intensity exercise

In terms of the speed of achieving moderate-intensity exercise, it is actually different for every individual. Hence, you should focus on your exertion instead, which can be measured by the heart rate and breathing rate.

When you are walking at a brisk pace, you may notice that your breathing is harder than usual. Given that, you should still be able to speak in complete sentences. You can simply identify if you are walking at a moderate-intensity pace by checking your heart rate.

According to the American Heart Association, the moderate-intensity zone can be identified as 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate; however, this varies by age [12]. 

Moreover, the most accurate way to measure exertion is by taking a heart rate reading and checking a target heart rate chart.

Gone are the days that you have to take your pulse by hand since you can now use various tools to find your heart rate during exercise, such as through an app, pulse monitor, fitness tracker, smartwatch, or chest strap heart rate monitor. 

Fitness trackers and heart rate monitors can show you your target heart rate zone automatically, which can ultimately guide you in maintaining a level of exertion to keep you in that zone.

Additionally, you can track your exertion without any equipment using the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.

You can evaluate yourself on a scale of 6, meaning no exertion at all; sitting quietly, to 20, which is the maximum exertion, as in a hard sprint. 

Know the benefits

The kind of physical activity you should perform does not need to be complicated. You can simply take a daily brisk walk or jog every morning, and then you can be active. 

Regular brisk walking or jogging can help you:

  • Stay in shape, have a healthy weight, and lose body fat. 
  • Help strengthen the bones and muscles. 
  • Promote muscle endurance. 
  • Increase energy levels. 
  • Enhance balance and coordination. 
  • Strengthen your immune system. 
  • Reduce stress and tension.
  • Boost cardiovascular fitness.  
  • Improve mood, cognition, memory, and sleep.
  • Prevent or manage different medical conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes

Remember that the faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the health benefits.

For instance, you may start out as an average walker, and then eventually work your way up to walking faster. 

You can then walk a mile in a shorter amount of time than an average walker, similar to power walkers. 

Progress can be a great way to have an aerobic activity, which improves your heart health and increases your endurance while also burning calories.

Trying alternate periods of brisk walking with leisurely walking is also a great idea. Brisk walking with leisure is a type of interval training that has numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness and more burned calories compared to regular walking. 

Also, interval training can be simply completed anywhere in less time than regular walking [13]. 

Consider your technique

You should also consider your technique in brisk walking or jogging. Turning a simple normal walk into a fitness stride demands a good posture and purposeful movements. 

You should follow the suggestions below to achieve a good posture when walking: 

  • Put your head up. You must be looking forward, not at the ground.
  • Have your neck, shoulders, and back relaxed and not stiffly upright.
  • You should also swing your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. Also, a little pumping with your arms is okay. 
  • Then, you must have your stomach muscles slightly tightened and your back straight, basically not arched forward or backward.
  • Walk smoothly and roll your foot from heel to toe.

Remember, it is okay to start slowly, especially if you are starting to have an active lifestyle.

Conclusion

Brisk walking and jogging offer numerous health benefits. To make the most of these activities safely, remember to warm up, wear proper footwear, and set achievable goals.

Ultimately, the decision to incorporate brisk walking and jogging into your routine should align with your goals and physical condition. With the right approach, they can be a valuable part of your health and wellness journey.

FAQs

Which is better, brisk walking or jogging?

Neither brisk walking nor jogging is inherently better; it depends on your fitness level and goals. Brisk walking is gentler on the joints, while jogging burns more calories.

Does walking or jogging help lose weight?

Both walking and jogging can contribute to weight loss when combined with a balanced diet, as they help burn calories and boost metabolism.

Can you mix jogging and walking?

Yes, you can mix jogging and walking in a single workout, known as interval training. This can add variety and intensity to your exercise routine.

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[1] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management?dkrd=/health-information/weight-management/walking-step-right-direction 
[2] https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/12/776 
[3] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/running-and-jogging-health-benefits 
[4] https://www.shape.com/fitness/tips/science-behind-afterburn-effect 
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23174473/ 
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3757559/ 
[7] https://www.superjocknjill.com/blog/benefits-of-walking 
[8] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/apr/05/brisk-walk-healthier-running-scientists 
[9] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/running-for-weight-loss 
[10] https://www.physio-pedia.com/Walking_-_Muscles_Used 
[11] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/20/health/20brod.html 
[12] https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates 
[13] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261

Photograph: bernardbodo/Envato
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