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All over the world, excess weight seems to be a problem with the majority of people. The reason behind the extra pounds could be myriad: overeating, unhealthy diet and lifestyle, lack of exercise, medical conditions, and others. But when it comes to shedding the extra inches, everyone wants something quick and easy. Being overweight has both physical and psychological effects. It affects appetite, confidence, productivity, and concentration. Excess weight looks unappealing, the primary reason why people want to stay lean. But there are various other reasons to lose weight too, including a fitter body, better health, more vitality, and overall well being.

The sad truth is that putting on weight is way easier and quicker than losing it. Just a week of binge eating will give you 10 extra pounds, and you will spend the next six months trying to get rid of it. Being overweight and out of shape is such a chronic problem that various fitness centers, health clubs, and personal trainers are making of it. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a gym membership will get rid of your extra inches, unless you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. And when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are small everyday things that can help you stay in shape.

We know that household chores and climbing the stairs help in burning calories, but did you know that an hour of walking, jogging or running is equal to the same time in the gym? If you are looking to tone up and build muscles, you might still have to go to the gym, but if your primary goal is to lose weight and stay in shape, then simple aerobic exercises like walking, jogging and running will suffice. Like all aerobic and cardiovascular exercises, walking, jogging and running strengthen the heart and lungs, besides helping in weight loss.

What is aerobic exercise?

The vast number of exercises that people engage in for fitness and health can be divided into two broad categories – aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic exercises are also called cardiovascular exercises because they pump more oxygenated blood into the system, thereby strengthening the heart and lungs. Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, makes you breathless because of the high intensity workout, like long distance sprinting, weight lifting, and high intensity interval training. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises combine to make a complete workout plan. While aerobic exercises will help you lose weight, stay in shape, and achieve overall flexibility anaerobic exercises will build muscles and strength and tone the body.

The most common forms of cardiovascular exercises include walking jogging and running. In the gym the treadmill if the most popular equipment for cardio exercises. Dancing swimming and skiing are also included among cardio exercises. Even if the gym is out of bounds for you, and you cannot swim or dance, you still have plenty of aerobic exercises to achieve weight loss. In the simplest form walking is also the most helpful aerobic exercise. Jogging and running are higher intensity then walking but achieve the same results in a shorter time.

How walking, jogging and running work

Breathing is the most elementary and also the most important of all bodily functions. The average adult breathes around seven to eight liters of air per minute. Once the lungs are filled with oxygen it travels to the bloodstream from where it reaches the heart. The four chambers of the heart fill with and pump blood. For carrying out this function the heart needs a constant supply of fresh oxygen. The oxygen provided by the lungs to the bloodstream is used up by the heart in pumping blood and supplying it to all other organs in the body.

What aerobic exercises do for our bodies is make our breathing rate more efficient so that we inhale more oxygen with each breath. The lungs also get stronger because it has an increased capacity to fill with oxygen. This in turn means the heart gets a better supply of fresh oxygen, which helps it pump better and faster, providing more blood to all the other organs in a shorter time.

There are various forms of aerobic exercises like using the treadmill, swimming, and dancing, but most of them are not suitable for the vast majority of overweight or obese people or those with medical conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis. This is why simple exercises like walking and jogging are recommended for all although running is considered a proper form of exercise for losing weight walking and jogging are often underestimated in fact most people don’t believe that weight loss is possible by simply walking and jogging however science proves that walking jogging and running all have the same benefits and effects. In order to know how walking jogging and running help us lose weight you need to know how the body burns calories and sheds excess pounds.

Calories are actually fat and carbohydrates. Both of these act like fuel for the body. When fats and carbohydrates become more than what the body needs, it results in excess weight gain. Fat has 9 calories per gram while carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. fats therefore have a higher contribution to weight gain. It is also harder to lose fat than carbohydrates because fat is denser and needs more oxygen to burn. With regular walking, jogging or running, our bodies get better at using up oxygen and burning fat. The heart pumps more blood efficiently, the muscles get more oxygen, and your overall strength and flexibility improve.

Walking vs. jogging vs. running

There is one basic difference between walking jogging and running and that is intensity. Walking is of a lower intensity than jogging, while running is of higher intensity than jogging. Each is the natural progression of the other. Walking progresses to jogging, and jogging progresses to running. In fact walking, jogging and running all use the same muscles of the body in various intensities. The proper way to measure the difference between the three is the amount of energy they burn.

What are exactly walking, jogging and running? Jogging and running are variations of walking, which is the simplest and most primitive way to transport ourselves from one place to another, using our own muscles and energy. Walking is also easier to differentiate from jogging and running. Walking is what you see everyone doing on the streets or whenever they need to move from one place to another. Running and jogging are more easily recognized forms of exercise, so when you go to a park and see someone jogging or running you immediately recognize that the person is exercising. But walking is so normal and common that when you see a person walking their pet on the street it doesn’t necessarily go down as exercise. However, experts suggest that walking your dog is not only good for your pet but also good for you. It is also been found that whenever people get a pet there exercise levels automatically rise.

While you don’t have to get a pet in order to get some exercise you can definitely include walking, jogging or running in your daily schedule. Even though walking is low intensity it is still a form of aerobic exercise. People assume that walking is inefficient when they don’t see any weight loss. This is because the normal walking that people usually do every day is much lower in intensity than what is required for losing weight. This is what power walking is all about. Do not mistake power walking for jogging. Power walking is simply a faster way to walk which is different from the walking that we normally do. Even though walking is lower intensity, it can be effective in maintaining good health and vitality.

The efficiency of walking, jogging and running again comes down to how the body uses oxygen. For every liter of oxygen that we breathe, we burn around five calories. The harder we work the muscles, the greater is their oxygen demand and the higher amount of oxygen we need. This is how the variations among walking, jogging and running are measured. The greater the fitness level of a person, the less oxygen they need to perform intense exercises. For example, an athlete’s jogging speed is equal to the average person’s running speed. This is because of better aerobic conditioning and higher level of endurance in professional athletes.

The easiest way for the average person to tell jogging from running is the ability to hold a conversation. It is possible to talk and breathe normally while jogging, because the oxygen load on the lungs is not high. This is why it is considered lower intensity compared to running. Light walking or strolling consumes the least energy, but as the speed of walking increases, the energy expenditure also increases. The breathing gets heavier, until we get to a point when the energy expenditure crosses the threshold to turn walking into jogging. For example, a person walking at a speed of 20 kilometer per hour has a higher oxygen requirement than someone running at the same speed. Therefore, the moment the energy cost threshold exceeds, the body changes gears from walking to jogging to running. When the speed of exercise decreases, the amount of energy that is needed also comes down.

To amp up your walks and pump up the calorie burn, ankle and wrist weights are often used. While a light walk or jog is good for maintaining fitness and agility, it isn’t enough for weight loss. Walking at a fast pace with weights is more effective at weight loss compared to jogging at a slow speed. Regardless of the type of exercise, the greater the intensity, the more calories burned.

Health benefits of walking, jogging, and running

Because all three are cardiovascular exercises, the benefits of walking, running and jogging are also similar. It is possible to get the same benefits of running from walking but it will only take a longer time. For instance, you will burn 20 calories per minute running while burning only 10 calories walking per minute. So, to get the same benefits of running from walking you will need to put in double the effort and double the time this will take longer but the benefits will be the same over time. This is true for those who cannot engage in vigorous activities like jogging and running and prefer to stick to something simpler like walking.

However, if your sole focus is weight loss remember that light walking or strolling is not going to do much no matter how long you spend doing it. For burning more calories you need to put in more energy, and the energy you consume will not be higher unless the intensity of the exercise increases. Therefore even if you are only walking, to get better results aim to walk a higher number of steps per minute. For example if you usually walk 100 steps in 1 minute, consider walking 200 steps to consume more energy.

The greater your weight, the more calories you burn. This is because you have excess energy to burn. When you are around your right weight, you burn fewer calories because there is not a lot of excess weight to lose. A lot of people assume that walking and running the same distance will burn the same number of calories. This is a mistaken idea because distance has no relationship with the amount of calories burned. What matters is the energy expenditure. Any high intensity exercise like jogging or running burns more calories per minute. Jogging and running are also more time efficient than walking. If you want to lose weight but don’t have enough time in a day for exercise, getting 30 minutes of jogging or running every day is a great place to start.

Aside from weight loss, there are several more benefits of walking, jogging and running. They are:

Improved Heart and Lung Health

The two most important organs involved in walking, jogging and running are the heart and the lungs. While the heart pumps blood, the lungs supply it with oxygen. This oxygen is required by all the organs in the body, including the brain. Experts recommend that the best way to improve cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness is to engage in aerobic exercises. The fitness of the heart and the lungs is greatly enhanced by improving body’s capacity to use available oxygen. This increase in capacity is achieved by improving the heart’s capability to pump blood to the organs and the muscles. Better heart health is measured by a slower resting heart rate and also during exercise.

This is why when you keep doing a certain exercise for a long time, it gets easier over time. The same applies to walking, jogging, and running. If you struggle to walk at a fast pace now, if you keep doing it regularly, you will find it has become easier in three months. You will also realize that you are able to walk, jog, or run at a higher pace for a longer duration. Even when not exercising, you will notice a boost in your everyday stamina.

Better Sleep

By this time, it should be clear that the health of the heart and the lungs impacts every other bodily function. When the heart and lungs are strong, there is a marked improvement in every other function of the body. Walking, jogging or running improves heart and lungs health, thereby enhancing the quality of sleep and keeping sleep related disorders at bay. It has been found in various studies that those who walk, jog, or run for 30 minutes a day regularly, sleep much better at night compared to those who don’t exercise. The psychological functioning is also found to be better in those who walk, jog, or run as part of their daily routine. The reason why these aerobic exercises improve sleep is because of their impact on the circadian rhythm. When the circadian rhythm works fine, it promotes daytime alertness and makes you sleepy at night. Regular walking, jogging, or runnings have also found to improve sleep disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.

Calorie Burn

Walking is the simplest of all exercises and something we do all the time. For staying fit and active and burn some calories every day, you don’t even need to jog or run. Simply taking a 30 minute walk every day can burn up to 100 calories. If you want to burn more calories, try jogging or running at a speed of five 5 miles for an hour. At this rate, a person with a weight of 160 pounds will burn more than 500 calories in an hour. You don’t need to get that expensive gym membership and get intimidated by the various machines. Simply walking is a great way to burn calories and work up a sweat.

Diabetes Prevention

Lifestyle changes are a defining factor in diabetes prevention, and exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are diabetic or want to prevent diabetes, adding 15 to 20 minutes of fast-paced walking, jogging or running to your everyday routine is the simplest change you can make to your lifestyle. Aerobic exercises improve insulin resistance, helping the body convert glucose into energy. Even including these exercises to your life for as little as three months can bring about a marked improvement.

Osteoporosis Prevention

If you already have osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle, your movements and ability to exercise may be hindered. If you wan to prevent yourself from getting this condition, you should start aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, and running. Both aerobic exercises and strength training improve bone density, especially if done from the formative years. In grownups, walking, running, and jogging have been found to slow the rate of decreasing bone density.

Cognitive Illness Prevention

Everyone dreads age related cognitive illnesses dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But the good news is, including walking, jogging, or running to your daily routine can do wonders. It has been found that regular aerobic exercises promote mental agility, concentration, and productivity. Regardless of age, regular walking, jogging, and running can improve memory and cognitive function and keep the person mentally alert and focused.

Depression Prevention

It goes without saying that exercise is an instant mood booster. Starting your day with a few minutes of jogging or running will instantly lift your mood and give a fresh start to the day. If you have more severe forms of depression, aerobics aren’t a substitute for medications or therapy, but if you suffer from minor mood swings frequently, taking up walking, jogging, or running is one of the best ways to boost mood and keep depression away.

Increased Lifespan

Exercise benefits a person’s lifespan in various ways. It keeps the person fit and agile, keeps memory and concentration intact, keeps hormones and blood pressure under control, keeps heart, lungs, and other organs functioning normally, and also keeps various illnesses at bay. In such a scenario, how can a person not live a long and healthy life? Getting at least 30 minutes of walking or jogging on a daily basis adds years to your life. If you get an hour or more of exercise daily, you also become better resistant to certain forms of cancer.

The right way to exercise for weight loss

When it comes to weight loss there are various exercises that one can take up. But when someone is overweight it is hard to start with vigorous exercises. For overweight people it is tough and exhausting to do any kind of vigorous activities including walking at a fast pace. This is the reason why most overweight people tend to be lazy. It’s because they get exhausted doing any kind of physical activity.

Walking is one of the simplest exercises for anyone to begin with. Even if you have bad knees or any other medical condition that prevents you from vigorous exercises you can safely engage in 30 minutes of walking every day without any risk. Even healthcare professionals recommend 30 to 60 minutes of brisk walking every day to all individuals regardless of their fitness levels. This is because walking is harmless and does not create excess strain on your system.

But irrespective of whether you want to start walking, or progress to jogging and running, you must do it the right way. Do not forget that walking is still an exercise and needs to be done properly to get the most out of it. The following pointers explain the basic preparations and precautions to take when starting with walking jogging and running for the first time.

Get The Right Shoes

The first and most common mistake that beginners make is to wear improper shoes. Whether you want to walk, jog or run, there is no alternative to getting the proper pair of shoes you cannot use the word out pair of sneakers lying in the bottom of your closet for years. You cannot wear your Crocs or flip flops or any other ill fitting shoes for walking or running. Improper shoes are the biggest reason behind injuries sustained during exercise. if you do not wear the right shoes when walking or running you are more than likely to end up with sore feet, blisters, and joint pain. You don’t have to spend $2,000 on that designer Nike pair. Just proper well fitted running shoes will suffice.

Start With Basic Walking

When you start exercising for the first time, it is recommended that you start with walking, because it is less stressful than running but also has the ability to make muscles and joints stronger. This makes walking not only a great warm-up but also a great way to get quality exercise at the same time.

Don’t Run on Consecutive Days

Your bones, joints, and muscles should be given time to recover from the sudden stress of exercise. For the first several weeks of the program, limit running to only a few days of the week. For the days in between, stick to walking, cycling, or swimming.

Don’t Increase Volume Too Quickly

To lose weight quickly and efficiently, you need to run more. But if you keep increasing the speed and volume of jogging or running too quickly, you are likely to tire out or get injured. Therefore, keep increasing your running or jogging speed to 10 percent every week.

Aside from walking, jogging or running regularly, a proper diet should also be followed for weight loss. High quality food like vegetables and fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, unprocessed meat, diary, and healthy seeds, nuts, and oils should be part of the daily diet, and low quality calorific food like fries, refine grains and processed food should be eliminated. Remember that the weight you put on over several years cannot be undone in a day, so give walking, jogging or running some time in order to see results. Sticking to the routine and maintaining the right diet pays off in the long run.