Jogging and walking are both effective forms of exercise.
Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Walking and jogging are both excellent ways to keep fit and burn calories without the need for a gym membership. In 2016, more than 64 million Americans went running or jogging. The same year, approximately 107.9 million people walked for fitness. These activities make it easier to get your daily dose of exercise while building endurance and strength. Even though they have little impact on muscle growth, they help tone your body from head to toe and boost overall fitness. As you get leaner, your muscles will look more defined.
Jogging and walking both work your leg muscles. Walking is gentler on your joints, while jogging makes your muscles work harder. Combine the two with interval training to experience all the benefits.
Jog for Muscle Tone
Jogging is often associated with fat loss and improved cardiovascular fitness. However, its health benefits go beyond a lean body. This form of exercise increases bone density, relieves stress and can even add years to your life. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, jogging for one to two and a half hours per week may lower the risk of death. Furthermore, light and moderate joggers have the lowest mortality rates.
This training method engages nearly every muscle and may reduce body fat when combined with a balanced diet. It works your leg muscles, such as your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, as well as the hip flexors, abs and arms, leading to increased overall strength and endurance. Your heart muscle gets an intense workout too. This activity is unlikely to increase muscle size, but it may help improve muscle tone and strengthen your bones.
The main difference between walking and jogging is how the foot muscles work. When you're jogging, the ankle plantar flexors and knee extensors primarily propel you. Walking, by comparison, uses the knee and hip extensors along with the plantar flexors - the deep muscles in your lower leg.
Additionally, your knees might be locked during a walking gait, but not typically while jogging. This means that when you're running or jogging, your muscles work harder to support the knee joint when your foot touches the ground.
Is Walking Worth It?
Just like jogging, walking engages multiple muscles and keeps your bones strong. Think of it as a whole-body exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere. It's particularly beneficial for your lower leg muscles and your knee and thigh muscles. You're also using your core and arm muscles as well as the stabilizing muscles of the pelvis.
The faster you walk, the more calories you burn and the more your muscles work. Brisk walking, for instance, may improve your balance and coordination, build core strength and lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Plus, it aids in weight management and lifts your mood.
Compared to jogging and running, walking puts less stress on your joints. This makes it ideal for people of all ages, including those with knee or back pain. Over time, your muscles become more efficient at utilizing fat and oxygen for exercise, leading to improved physical performance.
In a study conducted by the University of Verona in Italy, elderly women who engaged in brisk walking sessions for one and a half hour per day experienced a major reduction in fat mass and waist circumferences within three months. Their muscle peak torque and power improved as well. These findings show that walking at a fast pace is a safe, effective way to build muscle strength, lose fat and boost your exercise performance at any age.
Choose for Yourself
Whether you want to lose a few pounds or tone your muscles, both walking and jogging will do the trick. Consider your fitness level and preferences in terms of exercise. Jogging carries a higher risk of injury and puts more stress on the body, but it burns more calories and forces your muscles to work harder. Walking is easier on your spine and joints - and safer overall.
Ideally, combine the two. Mix jogging and walking to get the most out of your training time and to ward off boredom. These activities complement each other and can improve your mental and physical well-being. Go jogging in the morning when you're fresh and energized, and finish the day with a long walk. If your goal is to build mass and strength, add resistance training to the mix.