Is Walking Or Running Better For Fat Loss?

By Rachael Attard, Updated Jun 14, 2022
is running or walking better for fat loss?

Let’s get straight to the point – which is better for fat loss?

If you were to run for 30 minutes, you would burn more calories than you would power walking for 30 minutes. But for walking and running are both important for optimum fat loss. Here’s why.

The answer is: BOTH!

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RUNNING IS REALLY GREAT BECAUSE:

1) It burns lots of calories
2) It increases your cardiovascular fitness which also increases your anaerobic threshold. This means that you can exercise longer and at a higher intensity in the “fat burning” zone and as a result, burn more fat.

POWER WALKING IS GREAT BECAUSE:

1) It burns FAT. Because it is a lower intensity exercise, your body uses glucose and fat to produce energy. Your body uses other energy sources (such as glycogen and creatine phosphate) to produce energy during higher intensity exercise.
2) It is less intense on your body and your joints so you can do this exercise for longer periods of time and more frequently.

how to stick to a workout program cardio walk

One of my previous blog posts goes into detail about why low to moderate intensity cardio is actually very important for fat loss. Read more about it here.

Everyone is different and depending on your body type, certain types of cardio may benefit you differently. I have a free Body Type Quiz that you can solve to find out your body type.

I also have free workout and nutrition guidelines for each of the three main body types. In the guidelines I highlight the types of cardio you should be doing and how often. You can read up on the free guidelines here:

3 STEPS TO LEAN LEAGS PROGRAM

These types of workouts are also the basis for my 3 Steps To Lean Legs Program, which contain workout and nutrition programs for each body type. Read more about my 3 Steps To Lean Legs Program here.

Tags: cardio, fat loss, running, walking
Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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37 comments on “Is Walking Or Running Better For Fat Loss?”

    Katie says:

    Hi! I love this article, it is very helpful and I now learned I need to do more moderate exercises and not very high level exercises if I want to get skinnier. I am 5’2 and like 110 lbs. The fronts of my thighs are very big compared to the rest of my body and I think it is cause it is muscle. What should I do to basically loose muscle to get it to slim down?? Thank you for your help!

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Katie, the only way you can really lose muscle is time unfortunately. And losing muscle is quite difficult so will take a bit of time. I would just try to avoid any exercise that use your quads to give them a break. You can still do other resistance exercises though – here are some ideas! Good luck xx

    Sarah says:

    Hi! Do you recommend doing the morning power walking at an incline? or a flat surface?

      Rachael Attard says:

      Definitely flat surface xx

    Lura says:

    Hi!

    Your blog is really helpful! So unfortunately, I have a damaged knee and had knee surgery on my left knee about 7 months ago ago. Running is out of the question, and I am doing a lot of exercises to just regain the strength I lost while being injured and then on bed rest. So I can’t do squats or lunges either, which is always recommended for thinner legs. My legs (thighs mainly) are really, and disproportionately fat. All of the fat in my body is concentrated from knee to waist, mainly in the upper thigh creating the dreaded pear shape. My weight is fine, I gained weight while on rest but am now on a healthy diet and have dropped 6 kilos in 3 months. Right now my workout consists of – moderately intense cardio – 20 minutes (elliptical or cycling), about 20 minutes of exercises focused on legs such as leg raises etc with weights etc. I’m also doing some exercises for my upper body (bench press, shoulder press, crunches etc). I really want to lose fat on my legs though. Can you suggest anything else? Its just that the weak knee rules out leg press, squats and lunges.

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi hun, if you want to lean out your legs then squats, leg press and lunges should be avoided. Can you do any walking? This is the most effective for leaning out your legs, so do lots of it if you can! I hope you can get back on track soon. Good luck! xx

    Rachel says:

    Hi Rachael, I’m currently doing 1 x HIIT Circuit session, 2 x Reformer Pilates and would like to incorporate Power Walking and Running. Can you please recommend how many walking and running sessions I should do for maximum weight loss? Also time and length for a beginner runner? E.g walk for 5 mins jog for 2 mins
    Thanks so much in advance :) Your blog is so helpful!

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Rachel, happy to help! I would suggest running 2-3 times per week. You only need to run for 15-20 minutes. I would start with a 5 minute warm up, 15-20 min run, and then around 20 minute walk to cool down. If you can’t run for a full 15-20 minutes, I would just try to jog for as long as you can, then stop and walk for a minute, then keep repeating. Eventually you’ll get there! Also with the walking, I would try to do as much as you can. I generally try to walk every day, but if you can’t fit it in, then fitting in a quick walk after your HIIT or pilates sessions would help. Good luck! xx

    Vikialyaa says:

    Hi Rachael!
    I’ve been doing HIIT for 2 weeks now, but my thighs and calves got bigger!
    So this morning I tried running for 15 minutes and my calves started to get soar. Is it okay to keep on running or power walk even though my calves are hurt? Will it increase my calves size if I forced it? Lastly, can you give me a specific workout routine like which day should I run or HIIT for a week?

    Thanks a bunch bae :) xx

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi hun, I’m sorry to hear that! I try to just do a HIIT session once per week maximum to avoid this. It’s OK if your calves are hurting – running does use your calves. It could be just because you’re not used to running yet; if this is the case, your calves won’t feel like this every time. Or it could be your run technique. I would continue with the running for a two weeks and see if you are still feeling it in your calves. An example for a workout could be:

      Monday – run
      Tuesday – HIIT
      Wednesday – run
      Thursday – rest day (or lighter resistance training)
      Friday – run
      Saturday – lighter resistance training
      Sunday – rest day

    Flower says:

    Just wondering would skipping have the same results as walking/running or will my legs bulk up?

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi hun, no skipping won’t have the same results as walking / running sorry! xx

    A says:

    Hey Rachael! I work at a gym and we have elliptical machines there. Does that take the place of a power walk? My knee is slightly injured and a personal trainer recommended it as an alternate. What are your thoughts?

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi A. The elliptical is good but won’t lean out your legs as good as walking will. It is definitely less impact and if you cannot walk, you could use it as an alternative. But once you’ve recovered, I would switch back to walking xx

    Jayne says:

    Hi Rachael,

    I used to run a lot (too much, really!), was doing much more damage to my body than good. I managed to stop this (found that difficult though, i think i was addicted!) and cut back to just a power walk most days, in the morning for about 25 – 30 mins.
    I find I feel like I bulk up quickly, or I get quite muscly legs quickly when doing HIIT and also found this with running. I just felt bigger and heavier overall. I found the same thing when I started doing bikram yoga. I loved it, but it definitely made me feel larger.
    So I decided to cut back to just the walking again but I really don’t feel like I am shifting any weight. I don’t have a great deal to lose, but at least 5kgs that seem to have crept on in the past few months. Should I try running again every couple of days? Would I see results if I continued walking but just increased the duration? I feel ok not having much muscle. I certainly prefer that my clothes nearly fit better without much muscle (not sure if this is because I seem to gain muscle and then clothes feel tight due to a different shape?)
    Thanks,
    Jayne

      Andrew Brown says:

      Hi Jayne, Rachael here. Sorry to hear that you are having these issues. I’m sure you already know, but having a bit of muscle will help you lose the 5kgs and quicker. But if you really don’t want to gain any muscle, then my advice would be to make sure you’re doing some form of high intensity exercise 4 times per week: this can include running, skipping, cycling, boxing, or HIIT if you would like to try it. And on the other days, try power walking and increase your duration. Good luck! xx

    Barb says:

    Hi Rachel! I have a mini trampoline for rebounding exercise. I am 5ft 90lbs…pretty small and skinny but with a pear shape, definitely! Does it help balance out my my shape? Im so happy i found your website! xoxo

      Andrew Brown says:

      Hi Barb, Rachael here. The best type of exercises for you to balance out your shape would be a combination of cardio (running/ walking is best) and weights (both HIIT weights and heavier weights). I don’t think trampolining would help much sorry :( xx

    Cristina says:

    Hi Rachael! so maybe this is a silly question, but does cycling in a spinning bike (low intensity) have the same effect as power walking?
    Thanks!

      Andrew Brown says:

      Hi Cristina, Rachael here. Unfortunately not really. Cycling at a low intensity doesn’t do a whole lot. You’d be MUCH better off walking x

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