Slow Jogging vs Fast Walking: The Beginners ABC

Slow Jogging vs Fast Walking

Slow jogging vs fast walking. What are the differences? And which one is better? Or are they both a massive waste of time (spoiler alert, they are NOT)?

Today, I’ll show you what differs the two – and I’ll also show you which should be chosen when.

Excited? I am!

Let’s get to it!

Slow Jogging vs Fast Walking: How Are They Different?

At first glance, slow jogging and fast walking – also known as power walking, seem incredibly similar. Aside from the small differences in technique, the movement speed is identical, and the results should be comparable.

But is that the case?

Well, not really. You see, while both activities are similar in calorie cost and heart rate, they differ from a biomechanical standpoint. The differences between the two activities manifest in the muscles you activate, how much pressure you place on your joints, and how you fundamentally move through space.

Even at a slow pace, jogging activates muscles differently than regular walking does and places different types of pressure on our joints.

According to research, jogging (even slowly) is associated with a much more significant ground reaction force (the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it) when compared to walking or even fast running (1).

For example:

If you weigh 80 kilograms and stand still, you would exert 80 kilos worth of force to the ground, and the ground would respond with the same reaction force.

According to the same study, the ground reaction force of walking was about 1.2 times bodyweight. For an 80-kilo person, that would equate to a pressure of about 96 kilos. Fast walking probably leads to slightly higher ground reaction forces, but we don’t have data to support this. However, when slow jogging, that value can rise by as much as 50 percent – to around 120 kilograms.

As far as energy expenditure, things tend to shape up differently. In one study, researchers set out to examine the energetic cost of walking versus running (on a track and treadmill) (2). In the study, the participants either walked at a pace of about 5 km/h (3.1 mph) or ran at around 10 km/h (6.2 mph).

This is where it gets interesting:

On the day of the trial, subjects had to complete 1.6 km of running or walking. Researchers found that those running (both on track and treadmill) burned significantly more calories. Specifically, the male subjects who ran on the treadmill burned about 124 calories. Those who walked the distance burned around 88 calories. 

Intuitively, these results make sense because the subjects did the same amount of work but in half the time and with a much higher training density.

These results aren’t applicable in the case of fast walking vs slow jogging because the difference in velocity are much smaller (if any). As a result, whether one slow jog or fast walks at a speed of 7.5 km/h, it likely wouldn’t result in different calorie expenditure.

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Reference: What Does Cardio do For Your Body? The Beginner’s ABC to Cardio

When You Should Choose Jogging

Jogging is a fantastic way to get in shape, and many people love doing it. If you enjoy it, you should do it so long as it doesn’t negatively impact you.

For example, many people enjoy having a morning jog to start the day off on the right foot and feel energized for the rest of the day. One reason why that is has to do with the effects of endorphins – opioid hormones that help suppress pain. 

As we jog, the body produces more endorphins that help bring euphoria and elevated mood (3). If you’ve ever heard of (or experienced) the famous ‘runner’s high,’ this is precisely where it comes from.

Another reason why you may want to choose jogging is if you enjoy having structure. As we’ll discuss below, walking is something we can easily integrate into our lives. If you enjoy having some dedicated exercise time, you should free up some time for a relaxing jog.

When You Should Choose Fast Walking 

According to experts and research, we should go with fast walking if we are looking for a gentler and less impactful way of exercising (1, 4). Due to jogging’s higher ground reaction forces, we can experience more stress in our ankles, knees, and hips. This is perhaps mostly due to the up and down motion of jogging.

Think of it like this:

When a person walks (even briskly), they typically maintain an upright posture, and there is little up and down motion. Most of the energy is spent on moving forward.

Now, imagine someone jogging:

This type of motion is characterized by lots of bouncing, even at low speeds.

This is particularly important to keep in mind if you’re older or overweight. In both cases, walking would deliver similar benefits without the associated risks.

Another reason why you may want to choose walking is that it’s much easier to handle psychologically. It feels more comfortable, and we all do it every day. You don’t need special equipment or motivational music to amp you up. Because of that, we are more likely to stay motivated and be consistent with our workouts. 

And finally, walking (even at a faster pace) is something we can integrate into our daily lives without dedicating extra time to it. For example, instead of driving to the grocery store, take a brisk walk there. Having to carry groceries back home is even better as it offers a loading component to your walk training.

Final Words: Power Walking and Jogging for Better Health

Either you like brisk walking, or if you are into running – you will reap the wonderful health benefits that exercise and physical activity brings along. Both will increase your heart rate and help you lose weight, reduce the chance of heart disease, strengthen your immune system, and better your general fitness level! Walking will bring a low impact on your joints, while jogging burns more calories at the same amount of time.

The key is simple:

Find something YOU like. Either it’s the one or the other, do what is most enjoyable to you. Do you enjoy power walking at 5 mph? Perfect! Do you rather feel like jogging? Hey, that is perfect as well! They are both great options in reaching your fitness goals – either it’s getting rid of your excess belly fat (remember to decrease those calories as well!), or you want to take care of your health.

Combine the power walk or running with strength training to burn more calories. I try to finish off my strength training program with 15-30 minutes of low pace running at least three times a week. If I’m short on time, I usually turn up the heat – and do 10 minutes of sprinting instead. That is sprinting at a HIGH PACE! It hurts (and I like it)…

Do you want to check out other options than walking and jogging?

Come visit my super-popular cardio workout collection, LOADED with actionable tips, workout programs, and fitness stuff!

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Other Helpful Resources

References

  1. Relationship between vertical ground reaction force and speed during walking, slow jogging, and running. Clinical Biomechanics Volume 11, Issue 5, July 1996, Pages 253-259
  2. Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running: Comparison with Prediction Equations. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2004 – Volume 36 – Issue 12 – p 2128-2134 doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000147584.87788.0E
  3. Endorphins and exercise. Sports Med. Mar-Apr 1984;1(2):154-71. Doi: 10.2165/00007256-198401020-00004
  4. Physical activity-related injuries in walkers and runners in the aerobics center longitudinal study. Clin J Sport Med. 2000 Oct;10(4):259-63. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200010000-00006.