Have you taken up brisk walking as part of your New Year fitness campaign? Did you think that walking would be less tiring than jogging? Or perhaps you simply thought that walking would be easier on your body, but still an effective way to lose weight. Now an American study could make you change your mind.
Researchers from North Carolina State University compared the muscles used for jogging with those used for brisk walking – and they found that a slow jog is actually less tiring than a fast walk.
But how can that be? Brisk walking doesn’t seem to make us as out of breath as jogging.
Well, it seems that a muscle in the calf is used in a more efficient way when we run, allowing energy to be released… which, in turn, stops us becoming tired as quickly.
The researchers carried out ultrasound scans to find out how muscles reacted when volunteers were running and walking. A spokesperson for the study said: “Muscles work too inefficiently to speed walk, so the body turns to running in order to increase efficiency and comfort, and to conserve energy.
“Other than Olympic race walkers, people generally find it more comfortable to run than walk when they start moving at around two metres per second, which is about 4.5 miles per hour.”
Further explanation reveals that the muscle in the calf can’t catch up to the speed of the gait as we walk faster and faster…but when we shift the gait and transition from a walk to a run the muscle becomes almost static and doesn’t seem to change its behaviour very much as we run faster and faster.
This finding is also good news for people who excuse themselves from exercise claiming that that they do not have enough time. (This is the biggest excuse for not keeping fit, by the way!) Jogging is faster than walking and this means you can squeeze in a quick jog – and save on body energy. Result!