Running provides a vigorous aerobic workout. It can encompass everything from jogging to sprinting. Kickboxing provides a cardiovascular workout that incorporates calisthenics, martial arts training, self-defense moves and skills training. Both exercises are beneficial for overall health and fitness. Deciding which workout best suits your needs, fitness level and desire for exercise involves considerations ranging from your long-term goals to the weather conditions.
Running provides an intense workout for the body. The main muscles that it works are the quadriceps femoris; calf muscles -- the gastrocnemius and the soleus; hamstring muscles -- the semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris; hip flexors; and gluteal muscles -- the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The harder you run, the more your efforts work -- and strengthen -- your heart, according to "Women's Health" magazine.
Kickboxing gives you with a full-body workout. It works your arm muscles, such as the large deltoid muscle and the brachioradialis muscle. It strengthens your leg muscles, such as the hip muscles -- the anterior dorsal hip muscles, posterior dorsal hip muscles and obturator internus; the thigh muscles -- including the biceps femoris and quadriceps femoris; and the intrinsic muscles of the foot. This exercise also works your core muscles, including the internal and external obliques, gluteus maximus, rectus abdominis, erector spinae and the latissimus dorsi.
Kickboxing is also an intense cardiovascular exercise. It's a rare workout that can build muscle at the same time it provides a continuous aerobic workout. This makes it a great fat-burning workout.
Aging and Endorphins
Running may slow the aging process. According to research from the Stanford University School of Medicine, older runners have a more active life for a longer span of time, and they also have fewer disabilities. Running also helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Both kickboxing and running release endorphins, which are the brain's own naturally occurring opiates. These endorphins can improve your mood, confidence level and sense of well-being.
You can practice kickboxing in all seasons without worrying about inclement weather. With kickboxing, though, you often have to schedule time in at the gym or at a class. Runners can simply take off for a run whenever they feel like it as long as the weather is nice. During the winter months, some runners adapt by using a treadmill, while others go out in all sorts of conditions as long as they have a safety plan in place. It's easier for kickboxing athletes to maintain their training schedule year-round.
Solitude vs. Group
The ultimate success of any long-term fitness plan is tied to how well you enjoy doing it. If exercise is a chore, your chances of sticking with it for months at a time dwindle. Running is ideal if you want a solitary sport. Although you may choose to have a running partner, it becomes a challenge to talk while running at a fast pace for long periods of time. Those who get motivated by groups will likely enjoy kickboxing because it's often done in a class atmosphere or at least by working closely with a trainer.
Running and kickboxing burn about the same number of calories -- but kickboxing has a slight edge. According to research published by the Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound person running at 5 mph burns 240 calories in a half-hour. A person of the same size burns 300 calories kickboxing in the same amount of time. A 185-pound person burns 444 calories kickboxing for 30 minutes, while a 185-pound runner burns 355 calories in 30 minutes.
- American Council on Exercise: ACE Research Team Counts Calories, Confirms Benefits of Cardio Kickboxing
- Stanford School of Medicine: Running Slows the Aging Clock
- Women's Heath: 6 Reasons to Start Running
- The New York Times: Yes, Running Can Make You High
- Harvard Medical School Health Publications: Calories Burned
- Vanderbilt University: The Reasons for Running
- AFPA: The Benefits of Kickboxing
- U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Vigorous Exercise May Help Prevent Vision Loss
Robin Raven was first published in 1998. She has contributed to newspapers, magazines and online publications, including "The Malibu Times," "Act'ionLine" for Friends of Animals, USA Today Travel Tips and the official Melissa Gilbert website. Raven specializes in travel, health, beauty, culture, vegan nutrition, joyful living, arts and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing.