Claim that Proper Walking is More Effective to Lose Weight than Running

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Here’s How Much You Must Walk To Lose Weight, It’s Far More Effective Than Running

An article suggesting that certain styles of walking can be far more effective than running when it comes to losing weight.[1]


There are many claims that walking, either alone or combined with dietary changes, can lead to a great amount of weight loss when following certain styles. But let's take a look at what science says. A meta-analysis study in the journal of Annals of Family Medicine concluded that a modest amount of weight loss can be achieved with pedometer-based walking programs, however, one of the limitations of this study is the lack of control design, which may lead to overestimated or underestimated results. It's simply possible that the participants who joined the walking program changed their diet and exercise habits - participants may have been motivated to reduce their caloric intake on their own. Only a controlled study with a meticulous record of dietary intake for all participants will ensure that such weight loss was not due to changes in diet.[2]

A little attention has been given to the important question of how exercise intensity might affect weight loss for similar energy deficits[3], despite the plausible reasons for greater weight loss from vigorous (such as running) rather than moderate exercise (such as walking). Specifically, increases in post-exercise metabolic rate and post-exercise appetite suppression are great for vigorous exercise, and the effects are non-trivial.[4][5][6][7]

According to a recent review, there are many different kinds of step counters designed to be worn on various sites on the body; with all of these devices having their own strengths and limitations.[8]

A study in 2011 was designed to investigate whether pedometer error is influenced by body mass index (BMI) and/or speed of walking. The researchers found no pedometer is really accurate for people who walk slowly, and there were inaccuracies of all tested pedometers for various types of persons. This is a very important factor that previous studies may have missed.[9]

The number of calories being burned while walking will depend on a person's weight and speed.[10] The benefits of physical activity depend on three elements: the intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise. In the case of walking and running, the calories burned depend far more on the distance covered and body weight than the pace. Taking these facts into consideration, the recommended amount of walking to lose weight can be a misinformation as it may not apply to all types of people.[11]

The claim made in the article that walking alone and no diet is needed in order to lose weight is misleading. Studies suggest that proper diet still plays an important role with any exercise programs for weight loss.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) held a scientific conference in an attempt to address the role of exercise as well as the importance of diet in the treatment and prevention of obesity. Two of the very important statements were: 1. The addition of exercise to a diet with restricted caloric intake promotes fat loss while maintaining fat-free mass. 2. Physical activity, without restrictions in calorie intake, affects fat loss minimally if at all.[12]

A study by Hagan, Wong and Whittam was conducted to compare the amount of weight lost through diet only to the amount of weight lost through an exercise program. The obese women and men in the diet only group reduced their daily caloric intake by 945, and 1705 kilocalories, respectively. The exercise only group experienced limited to no change in their body fat, thus, these results clearly illustrate the importance of dietary changes in weight loss.[13]

The ASUKI Step Study in 2011 investigated the effects of a 6-month pedometer-based worksite walking intervention on adults with a wide range of body mass index (BMI) values, and compared the changes with outcomes of similar studies. Contrary to what those researchers thought, only minimal changes were observed in the body composition measurements. Also, others factors may have influenced the results thus limiting those findings.[14]


  1. Here’s How Much You Must Walk To Lose Weight, It’s Far More Effective Than Running
  2. Richardson CR, Newton TL, Abraham JJ, Sen A, Jimbo M, Swartz AM. A Meta-Analysis of Pedometer-Based Walking Interventions and Weight Loss. Annals of Family Medicine. 2008;6(1):69-77.
  8. Bassett DR J1, Toth LP, LaMunion SR, Crouter SE. Step Counting: A Review of Measurement Considerations and Health-Related Applications. Sports Med. 2017 Jul;47(7):1303-1315.
  9. Tyo BM, Fitzhugh EC, Bassett DR Jr, John D, Feito Y, Thompson DL. Effects of body mass index and step rate on pedometer error in a free-living environment. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Feb;43(2):350-6.
  10. Fun Facts about Walking
  11. Walking: Your steps to health. Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. 2009
  12. Grundy SM, Blackburn G, Higgins M, Lauer R, Perri MG, Ryan D. Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of obesity and its comorbidities. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p S502
  13. Hagan RD, Upton SJ, Wong L, Whittam J. The effects of aerobic conditioning and/or caloric restriction in overweight men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1986 Feb;18(1):87-94.

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