Differences Between Walking and Jogging

Brisk walking and jogging are both aerobic exercises that strengthen your cardiovascular system, burn spare calories and lead to better physical endurance. Walking is a low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise, while jogging is a high-impact, vigorous-intensity exercise. Jogging does burn more calories per minute, but you don't need to pick up the pace to get similar benefits from your walking program.

Couple walking in forest (Image: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images)

Low and High Impact

Aerobic activity is generally classified as low- or high-impact. During a low-impact activity such as walking, one foot remains on the ground at all times to support your weight. During a high-impact activity, such as jogging, both feet leave the ground. High-impact activities put more pressure on your joints when your feet hit the ground. Other low-impact activities include playing tennis, doing step aerobics and rollerskating. High-impact activities may encompass exercises such as jumping jacks, jumping rope and aerobic dance classes.

Levels of Intensity

Walking is an example of a moderately intense aerobic activity, while jogging falls under the category of vigorous aerobic exercise. Moderately intense exercise increases your rate of respiration and heart rate slightly but noticeably, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Vigorous activity is more exhausting. Whenever you walk, you should break a sweat, but you shouldn't be working so hard that you can't carry on a conversation. While jogging, your heart rate speeds up even more; breathing is even more rapid. You should still be able to hold a conversation in short sentences at a time. Other types of moderately intense activity include bicycling at between 10 and 12 miles per hour, heavy cleaning, mowing the lawn and playing doubles tennis. Vigorous activities also include bicycling between 14 and 16 mph, playing singles tennis and lifting heavy loads.

First Steps

When choosing between walking and jogging, it may be a matter of personal preference. The American Council on Exercise, or ACE, recommends that, if you're exercising for weight loss, you start with a walking program first, simply because this activity is less physically stressful. The minimum amount of physical activity you should have is also determined based on intensity. Harvard School of Public Health compares brisk walking for 60 to 75 minutes a day to jogging for 35 to 40 minutes for weight loss -- both activities burn an average of 400 calories a day. Remember to add twice-weekly muscle-strengthening sessions to preserve and build your lean muscle mass.

What It Takes

Harvard Medical School points out that the intensity of the exercise you choose does matter. Walking can be extremely beneficial to overall health and weight loss, but not if you amble around leisurely for 15 minutes. Your pace has to be quick and energetic to get your heart rate up -- and in this case, moderately intense aerobic activity may be all you need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, walking on a level surface at a pace between 3 and 4.5 miles per hour qualifies as a moderately intense aerobic activity. Jogging and running at a 5 mph pace or more are defined as vigorous aerobic activities.

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