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Why Run If You Can Walk?

by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | September 13th, 2020

Why Run If You Can Walk?

I remember reading a friend’s T-shirt – ‘Why run if you can walk’ and thinking to myself, there is some truth to that statement. When you walk briskly, you can get all the health benefits without the overuse injuries. Runners have a much higher risk for exercise-related injury than walkers.

This past weekend I completed my first virtual 10-K walking race. It was not my best time, but I am happy I finished. I still got the same high that I had last year and that high was real. Walking encourages your brain to release endorphins – a neurochemical that boosts your mental health, decreases your sensitivity to stress and pain, and can even make you feel euphoric.

According to the American Heart Association a regular walking program can:

  • Keep you fit
  • Improve your cholesterol profile
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase your energy and stamina
  • Prevent weight gain

Walking is an aerobic exercise because it gets your heart rate up, but it is also a weight bearing exercise. While walking you carry your weight which can help with muscle and bone strength decreasing your risk of osteoporosis. You can walk alone to help relieve stress and that is good for mental health.  You can choose to walk with friends which can be a bonding experience. You may choose to walk with your spouse – a way to exercise together. It can be a family event when you include the children.

Some tips to get started:

Invest in a good walking shoe. Walking shoes are running shoes and it would be best to go to a specialty store that will spend time looking at your feet to get the best shoe for you. When it comes to walking shoes, we want function first and style next. You might want a Nike, but Brooks might be better for you. A walking shoe is an investment of about $ 75 – $160 but it will be worth the price because you will have fewer problems with your feet.

Not all neighborhoods are equal – For some safety is an issue.  If you do not have a safe trail in your neighborhood, you might choose to walk on a school track. You might choose to walk in the mall. Look for opportunities at your job site.

Avoid walking in the dark –If you have no choice, carry a flashlight and wear light colors so that people will see you.

Keep yourself well hydrated with water – I always carry a water bottle.

Start slowly. If you want to walk the 10ks or the half/full marathons, you must train for the races. Google walking clubs in your area to see if you can join a club that can help you prepare. If you do not train, you can get injured.

The great thing about walking, you can do it any age and for a lifetime. I hope that you will get to enjoy walking to the point you get a high. 

For more information on walking, check out Walking 101 at the American Heart Association website.

2 Responses to “Why Run If You Can Walk?”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I loved this article, I do run, and sometimes my knees will begin to hurt so I have to walk. But I do feel good when I walk also. The runners high is an amazing feeling, but getting out and just “going for a walk” is such a feeling by itself.

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The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

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