It really does not matter, health-wise, whether you pick jogging or brisk walking as your exercise of choice.
It is how often and for how long you do the exercise that count in the long run, said exercise experts here.
True, pounding the pavement and treadmill burn off more calories than walking with quick steps and give faster results for those who want to look good.
But if you are looking at cutting down the risk of diseases such as colon and breast cancer, heart problems, diabetes or depression and anxiety, either would do equally well.
Ms Cheng Bijun, a senior physiotherapist from the Sports Medicine Centre at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said: “Whether a person jogs or does brisk walking is not important. The important thing is his exercise volume - how frequently he exercises and at what intensity and duration.”
To feel fitter and healthier, a person needs to jog or brisk walk at low to moderate intensity for about 20 to 30 minutes three to five times a week, she says.
The greater his exercise volume, the more the health benefits, hence, a person who exercises 30 minutes five times a week will gain more health benefits compared to one who exercises 30 minutes three times a week.
At low to moderate intensity, a person’s breathing or heart rate goes up to about 60 to 80 percent of his maximum heart rate, but he can still carry on a conversation in short phrases with lots of breathing pauses in between, said Ms Cheng.
The maximum heart rate of a healthy adult is estimated to be 220 minutes minus his age.
Studies have shown that exercising in bouts is as effective as exercising continuously at the same intensity, said Ms Cheng.
This means that someone who exercises at low intensity for 15 minutes four times a day will achieve the same health benefits as someone who exercises at the same intensity for 60 minutes once a day.
Although jogging and brisk walking share similar health benefits, jogging burns more calories as more energy is needed to lift the body off the ground.
Dr Darren Leong, the resident sports medicine physician at Changi General Hospital, said: “In brisk walking, one foot is always in contact with the ground but in jogging, there are brief moments when both feet are off the ground.”
Hence, jogging may be more helpful for those who want to lose weight as they need to lose more calories than they eat.
But this is only if they do not suffer from any injuries or degeneration of the lower limb or back joints, said Ms Cheng.
She added: “As many overweight people do suffer from some degree of knee or ankle pain, brisk walking may be better than jogging for them due to the lower impact on their knees and ankles.”
During a jog, the impact to the knee is about four times that of the person’s body weight.
In contrast, when walking on level ground, the impact to the knee is only about 2.6 times that of the body weight.
Brisk walking may also be better for people who have not exercised in a long time.
Ms Cheng said: “It allows the body to slowly adapt to the demands of exercise and reduce the risk of injury.”
Once a person’s body adapts to the exercise and his fitness improves, he cant hen gradually increase the intensity of the exercise, she said.
But whether a person jogs or brisk walks, it is important that he enjoys what he does.
Dr Leong said: “People are more likely to continue what they do if they enjoy them.”
- Lea Wee