Is running really a better form of exercise than walking, given that running can lead to more injuries?
At Vox, I sit near health reporter Sarah Kliff, who trains for half-marathons and triathlons with a casualness most people reserve for grocery shopping. But Sarah’s also suffered with plantar fasciitis and a stress fracture. At times, she’s hobbled around in running shoes for months because everything else hurt too much, and even sported a big blue brace on her left leg to help cushion the tiny cracks in the bones of her foot brought on from too much wear and tear.
In many ways, Sarah is a perfect case study in how to think about the benefits and risks of running versus walking. Running has greater health benefits than walking (Sarah is super fit), but it also carries a much bigger risk of injury (see Sarah’s foot brace).
So which effect dominates? To find out, I first searched for “randomized control trials” and “systematic reviews” on running, walking, and exercise at PubMed health (a free search engine for health research) and in Google Scholar. I wanted to see what the highest-quality evidence — trials and reviews are the gold standard — said about the relative risks and benefits of these two forms of exercise.