Whether you are a fan of treadmill workouts or love nothing more than exercising outdoors, walking and jogging can both be fantastic, accessible forms of exercise. With little more than a good pair of running shoes, you can walk or jog your way to better fitness, health, and well-being.
Although walking and jogging share many similarities—such as both being forms of self-propelled, aerobic exercise—there are also plenty of differences.
Which is a better workout, walking or jogging? Is walking or jogging better for weight loss? What muscles do you work walking vs jogging?
In this article, we have put together a walking vs jogging comparison, aiming to illuminate the similarities and differences between walking and jogging to help you determine which is a better workout for you.
We will cover:
- Which Is a Better Workout, Walking Or Jogging?
- Walking vs Jogging: Muscles Worked
- Walking vs Jogging: Calories Burned
- Walking vs Jogging: Weight Loss
- Walking vs Jogging: Injury Risk
Let’s dive in!
Which Is a Better Workout, Walking Or Jogging?
Walking and jogging are both considered forms of aerobic exercise, so there’s a lot of overlap in the health and fitness benefits of each.
Both walking and jogging strengthen the heart and lungs, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, boost aerobic capacity or VO2 max, decrease blood pressure, improve blood sugar regulation, strengthen the muscles in the legs, reduce stress, boost mood, and support a healthy weight.
However, although there is plenty of overlap in the benefits of jogging and walking when comparing the difficulty of jogging vs walking as a workout, jogging is typically a more challenging and thus “better” workout.
By the very nature of being a higher-impact form of exercise and the fact that the paces associated with jogging vs walking are faster, jogging is a more cardiovascularly-, metabolically-, and muscularly-demanding activity than walking.In other words, in most cases, you will burn more calories and get a better cardio workout, jogging vs walking.
With that said, it is potentially possible to get a better workout walking vs jogging if you walk at a very brisk pace and up a steep incline and jog very slowly on level ground.
There’s no official speed that differentiates jogging vs running.
Rather, most people use the terms jogging and running fairly interchangeably, with a general tendency to use the term “jogging” to denote slow running.
On the other hand, the delineation between walking and jogging is clearer. The actual gait patterns between the two forms of exercise are different even if the moving speeds are not.
With walking, there is always one foot that remains in contact with the ground. When one foot is in the swing phase (up in the air), the other foot is in the stance phase, supporting your body weight.
For this reason, walking is a low-impact activity because you are never landing on your foot from an airborne position; rather, you are lifting and placing your foot back down to advance forward.
In contrast, when you jog—even when jogging slower than you might walk—there is a “flight” phase or “float” phase to the jogging gait cycle.
There is a brief period of time when both legs are in the swing phase, and no feet are on the ground.
Therefore, you do have to land on your feet from an airborne position, which is why jogging is a high-impact activity.
You can visually observe and physically feel the gait differences between walking vs jogging because they are distinct activities; in other words, the difference between jogging vs walking comes down to more than just average moving speeds.
Although you typically travel faster, jogging vs walking, it’s possible to walk faster than you jog.
For example, someone might walk at a brisk pace of 4.3 mph, whereas plenty of slow joggers might barely be moving at 4.0 mph (15 min/mile).
However, the overlap in usual walking vs jogging speeds is relatively minimal; most people jog faster than they walk.
Ultimately, when determining if walking is a better workout than jogging or if jogging is a better workout than running, it boils down to which activity you can perform more vigorously; furthermore, the two factors that determine the intensity or how “vigorous” your jogging or walking workout is are the speed and incline.
The faster you move, and the steeper, the more intense your workout will be.
Walking vs Jogging: Muscles Worked
Walking and jogging are both predominantly lower-body exercises with similar movement patterns, so there is a lot of overlap in the muscles used in jogging vs walking.
Both walking and jogging use the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexor muscles in the lower body.
With either form of exercise, the steeper the incline that you ascend, the greater the reliance on the posterior chain muscles, such as the hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
Walking and jogging also work the muscles in the core, such as the abdominal muscles and the low-back extensor muscles, as well as the muscles of the upper body, such as the shoulders and arms.
In general, compared to walking, jogging utilizes all the muscles to a more appreciable degree because it is a high-impact activity.
This means that the muscles have to generate more force to propel or launch the body off the ground between strides and then absorb the impact of landing from an airborne position.
Therefore, not only are the joint impact stresses higher during jogging versus walking, but the muscular forces and workload are as well.
Walking vs Jogging: Calories Burned
As with all forms of physical activity, one of the benefits of walking and jogging is that they burn calories.
The number of calories you burn during any type of workout depends not only on the type of exercise you are performing but also on the intensity and duration of your workout, along with your body size and composition, among other less-significant factors.
In general, because jogging tends to be a more vigorous form of exercise compared to walking, you burn more calories by jogging vs walking.
For example, Harvard Health Publishing reports that 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace of 3.5 miles per hour (17 minutes per mile) burns about 107 calories for a 125-pound person, 133 calories for a 155-pound person, and 159 calories for a 185-pound person.
On the other hand, jogging for 30 minutes burns 240 calories for a 125-pound person, 288 calories for a 155-pound person, and 336 calories for a 185-pound person, and jogging at 6 mph (10-minute miles) burns about 295 calories for a 125-pound person, 360 calories for a 155-pound person, and 420 calories for a 185-pound person.
Walking vs Jogging: Weight Loss
Walking and jogging can both be successful avenues for weight loss, provided they occur in the context of a calorie-controlled diet, such that you are using exercise to help you generate a caloric deficit necessary for weight loss.
To lose one pound of body fat, you need to create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories. Either walking or jogging or a combination of both can be part of a sensible weight loss plan.
Typically, people have more success with weight loss through jogging because it is a more efficient means of burning calories.
However, keep in mind that walking can also be an excellent way to lose weight.
Ultimately, whichever form of exercise will enable you to burn more calories and stick with your diet will be the most successful route toward losing fat.
If you can walk more vigorously, frequently, or for longer than you would jog, you will have more success with losing weight by walking vs jogging.
On the other hand, if you are an avid runner and can jog several days per week for longer runs, you will probably lose more weight by jogging vs walking.
The key to deciding whether jogging or walking is better for burning fat is to determine which type of exercise you can perform more consistently and vigorously and for longer workouts.
Walking vs Jogging: Injury Risk
The final major differentiation between walking vs jogging is the relative risk of injuries between the activities.
As explained, walking is a low-impact exercise, whereas jogging is a high-impact exercise. Therefore, anyone who suffers from joint pain or arthritis will probably find walking to be more comfortable and approachable.
On the other hand, jogging is a more effective route towards increasing bone density due to the higher impact stresses. This also increases the relative risk of stress fractures and joint pain.
Deciding whether walking or jogging is a better workout for you is all about weighing the pros and cons of each and determining which activity you enjoy more and which fits better into your overall fitness plan.
Looking to walk or jog your first 5k? We have the starter plans just for you: