What Are the Benefits of Jogging vs. Walking for Muscle?

Both walking and running have multiple health benefits.
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Much has been said about the benefits of walking vs. jogging. Both are touted as great aerobic exercises that can help you lose weight, sleep better, make you happier, give you more energy, decrease your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lessen your risk for a host of ailments, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Both are praised for their accessibility -- just lace up your sneakers and, in most cases, simply walk out your front door. To the surprise of some, walking has proven to be of greater health benefit than running in some areas. Running, for instance, can cause greater stress to your immune system. But what if your goal is to build muscle -- is it better to walk or run?


The edge here goes to jogging, but not in all forms. Watch the Olympics and check out the sprinters, in the 100, 200 and 400 meters — those athletes generally have pretty impressive, well-defined quad muscless. To help with their explosive starts, sprinters incorporate weight training into their workout. Weight training emphasizes the cycle of breaking down a muscle only to have it heal and come back bigger and stronger. Sprinters also don’t run long distances, which shrinks muscle fibers in an effort to make them more efficient metabolically.

Calf Muscles

Distance runners may not have bigger calf muscles, but theirs are typically more well defined. Distance runners tend to take shorter strides than sprinters, which has the effect of transferring the work down the leg — to the calf muscles. And the longer distances you run keeps the quads from gaining too much bulk. An argument could be made for walking in the form of backpacking; spend much time around ardent thru-hikers and you’ll notice some impressive calf muscles. But remember that their form of walking includes carrying a pack of usually between 30 and 50 pounds, throwing in an element of weight training.


For the most important muscle in this equation, both activities are good, with walking garnering perhaps a slight edge. A study published in the May 2013 issue of "Journal of Ateriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology" using data from the National Runners and Walkers Health Studies found that runners exhibited a reduced risk of 4.5 percent for developing heart disease compared to sedentary types. Walkers, however, exercising for the same amount of time exhibited a reduced risk of more than 9 percent.


A similar physiology that applies to your quads also applies to your backside. The longer and harder your work the three muscle groups back there — the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius — the smaller they’re likely to get. Genetics aside, you rarely see someone with a sizable derriere competing in a marathon. It’s not unusual, on the other hand, to see a good-size bottom on even the most dedicated walkers on the local greenway or track. If your aim is to reduce the size of your buttocks and increase tone, running is a better bet.

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