Walking, jogging and running were the three main methods of getting around for our caveman ancestors as they traversed the world.
In fact, it’s been speculated recently that our ability to cover long distances on foot is one of the main reasons we survived and thrived as a species hundreds of thousands of years ago.
As our species developed in ancient Africa, our ancestors’ ability to run down game gave them a reliable source of food and encouraged co-operation among groups of hunters.
Humans were unique in their ability to sweat and to tolerate long-term exercise. While they couldn’t begin to match an antelope’s speed, they could follow and force their prey to keep moving until exhaustion, at which point the animal was defenseless.
This process is known as “persistence hunting” and is still practiced by certain African and indigenous Northern tribes today.
For modern exercisers, the question isn’t whether we should exercise, but how much and at what intensity.
Walking is a light aerobic activity that provides a surprising array of fitness benefits, particularly for older or less fit individuals. Walking is a safe activity which can:
- Manage your weight
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Improve your mood
- Reduce the risk of developing Type II diabetes
Walking is an excellent exercise choice for individuals who are less likely to tolerate high intensity exercise. There is little risk of injury while walking and it is a pleasant, enjoyable form of exercise for most people, which makes them more likely to stay with a walking program over the long term.
Jogging is a higher intensity form of exercise than walking, which provides somewhat increased fitness benefits as a result. In addition to providing the same health benefits as walking, jogging also:
- Speeds up metabolism, helping you burn fat and calories even between workouts
- Strengthens muscles
- Increases bone density in weight bearing areas such as legs and feet
- Burns more calories per unit of time than walking
The downside of jogging as compared to walking is the increased impact forces at play with each step which tends to make joggers more prone to injury than walkers. Some people also find jogging to be too strenuous and less enjoyable than walking which may limit their ability to maintain a consistent exercise program.
Running is simply a faster form of jogging. In fact, the definition of jogging as opposed to running is somewhat subjective depending on the individual. One person’s jog might be another person’s run.
Running offers the same health benefits as jogging and walking, but due to the increased intensity, it also:
- Strengthens the heart
- Burns more calories per unit of time
- Contributes to stronger quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles
The disadvantages of running are an increased risk of injury, greater possibility of overtraining due to the intensity of the workout and a lesser likelihood of staying consistent with your training program.
The choice of whether to include walking, jogging or running in your fitness program is a matter of personal choice. The faster you go, the greater the potential rewards, but also the greater risk of injury and burnout. Ultimately, you should do what you enjoy most and will be able to maintain over the long term.
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