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May 30, 2022. There’s lightness. And then there’s … lightness. There’s the lightness of good health and peace of mind. And there’s the lightness that’s, well, the opposite of heaviness. The one that’s about your healthy weight.

Today’s Way is about all these things. And about how you get them from exercise. Let’s review some of the science to shed some light on the relative benefits of walking, jogging and running. Today: because it’s the fifth Monday of the month and Saturday was Senior Health & Fitness Day.

Regular jogging shows dramatic increase in life expectancy
That’s the title of this report from the ongoing, long-term Copenhagen City Heart Study. How dramatic? Six years of extra life. 6.2 more for men who jog; 5.6 for women who jog. Compared to men and women who don’t jog. How regular? Between 1 and 2.5 hours per week.

How fast? Slower, actually. The participants who reported their pace to be “slow” or “moderate” show the greatest increase in longevity. And what, exactly, is the optimal speed to achieve the lightness of long life? The lead researcher, Dr. Peter Schnohr, says, “Mortality is lower in people reporting moderate jogging, than in non-joggers or those undertaking extreme levels of exercise … You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless”. Take a deep one.

Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction
That’s the less dramatic title of the report in “Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology”, a very heavy-sounding journal. The conclusion: “Equivalent energy expenditures by moderate (walking) and vigorous (running) exercise produced similar risk reductions for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and possibly CHD [coronary heart disease].” But walking resulted in greater reductions than running. Let’s see: longevity, reduced risk for hypertension and disease. Chalk up one more for Slower. Makes you feel like taking a long walk or jog.

Greater Weight Loss From Running than Walking
Especially if you’re over 55. Another snappy title. This one’s from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. They’re voting for faster when it comes to the weight loss variety of lightness. “Although ΔBMI was significantly associated with both ΔMET-hours per day run and walked, the ΔBMI was significantly greater for Δrunning than Δwalking.” If they’re abbreviating too fast for you, they mean to say that energy expenditure from walking and running – compared with no exercise – result in lower weight as measured by Body Mass Index. But running will make you lighter, faster.

Running and Gender Inequality
I made that one up. The actual title of this research reported in the Journal of Obesity: Influence of running and walking on hormonal regulators of appetite in women. The research measured blood levels – before and after running and walking – of substances your body produces to suppress and stimulate appetite. And to signal satiation and hunger. From the article: “… exercise without intentional food restriction and/or behavior modification does not effectively promote weight loss, particularly in women. This may be because exercise stimulates a compensatory (relative to the energy expenditure of the activity) or noncompensatory drive to eat that is either biologically—(i.e., altered appetite regulating hormones) or psychologically—(i.e., feeling one deserves dessert after exercising) driven. These studies, however, are not consistent with short-term experimental studies conducted mostly in men which have found reductions in appetite and relative food intake following moderately intense-to-vigorous exercise.” Ladies, it appears you want to chow down more than gentlemen after moderate and intensive exercise.

As for running vs. walking, the report continues: “We elected to evaluate the effect of walking and running on appetite and gut hormone responses because both weight-bearing activities are recommended for weight loss and weight loss maintenance … Our overall observation that walking did not elicit the same negative energy balance or increase in the satiety hormones as did running, yet promoted a slightly higher postexercise fat and protein intake, suggests that walking may create some challenges for long-term weight loss unless dietary restriction is employed. [Running suppressed appetite more than walking; runners burned more than they ate. Walkers ate more than they burned.] While our results appear to contradict those … who observed significantly lower relative energy intakes in men after a 60-min “brisk” walk at a self-selected pace … the apparently discrepant results may help explain why exercise is less effective in promoting weight loss in women compared to men

The lightness lessons: watch what you eat after you walk. And note what happened to the “control group”, the ones who didn’t walk or run for 60 minutes. After 60 minutes of sitting and reading, they ate more than the walkers and the runners. So don’t just sit there.

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