Running burns calories to help you lose weight, but walking can be kinder on your joints than running. If you stick to brisk walking on a flat treadmill or outdoor terrain, you may not get as much of a calorie burn as you need to make changes on the scale - especially if you have limited time to exercise. Seeking out steep hills or upping the incline on the treadmill can help make your walking workout more challenging so you can lose weight.
When you run, you create a force equal to eight times your body weight - for a 150-pound person this equals about 1,200 pounds of impact each time your foot strikes the ground. Conditioned people may not have a problem with this force, but if you are new to exercise, are overweight or have joint problems, it can cause damage to your body. Nancy Lane, director of the UC Davis Center for Healthy Aging who specializes in rheumatology and diseases related to aging, told National Public Radio that people more than 20 pounds overweight are best off walking because the extra weight can stress the joints during running. When you lose weight, if you want to add in running you can, as long as your doctor has cleared you for vigorous exercise.
Creating a calorie deficit helps you lose weight. When you eat 3,500 calories fewer than you burn, you lose 1 pound. Reducing the amount of food you eat and choosing less calorie-dense foods contribute to this deficit, but you can only cut calories so far without risking nutritional deficiencies. Adding exercise helps you burn more calories so the deficit increases. Walking on an incline is one form of exercise accessible to most people.
If you can burn off 500 calories more than you eat every day, you'll lose 1 pound in a week. Walking on a flat surface at a pace of 3.5 mph for one hour burns approximately 267 calories for a 155-pound person. Make your walk happen at the same pace on an incline and in the same amount of time, and you can burn 422 calories. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn because it takes extra energy to move a larger engine.
If you are an outdoor walker, choose the hilliest route you can find to maximize your calorie burn. Treadmill walkers should become familiar with the incline button. Most commercial treadmills rise to a 15 percent grade, which is quite steep. You may find it challenging to maintain a 3.5 mph pace on this incline, so go as fast as you can. If a 15 percent grade is too high and causes discomfort or pain in your hamstrings or shins, go as steep as you can. To make the exercise count, you should feel breathy and your heart should beat faster. Aim to walk at this brisk pace for at least 50 minutes most days of the week to experience significant weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine notes that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can result in weight loss if done in excess of 250 minutes per week.