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What's Healthier in Your 50s: Walking or Jogging? An MD Weighs In

An expert shares the pros and cons of these popular types of cardio.

When you reach your 50s, it's essential to exercise regularly to stay healthy, in shape, and independent as you age. There are so many ways to nourish a healthy body, and when it comes to fitness, many individuals choose to crank up the tunes and hit the pavement for some solid cardio. After all, it's so convenient to fit into your everyday lifestyle, and it doesn't involve an investment in equipment. But what's healthier in your 50s: walking or jogging? We spoke with Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, the Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro, a certified nutrition coach, certified personal trainer, and a member of our Medical Expert Board, to give us some answers.

Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss The Best Fitness Habits That Increase Your Muscular Endurance After 50.

Walking and jogging are both very popular forms of exercise.

man walking getting exercise outdoors near tropical beach

Both forms of exercise are so very popular. In fact, according to Statista, over 115 million individuals in the United States walk for exercise, and more than 60 million put on their sneakers and go for a jog or run.

Walking and jogging are cardio workouts you can do alone, with someone, or even with a group or club. Whether you work from home or are in the office, it's pretty convenient to carve out time to do either each day. If you have a treadmill, the weather won't ruin your routine. So you have no excuses to bring on all the goodness of some healthy, consistent exercise.

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Walking and jogging elevate your heart, increase blood flow, and make you stronger.

So, what's healthier in your 50s: walking or jogging? First off, whether you prefer walking or jogging, both workouts will provide some solid exercise in your 50s. Dr. Bohl explains, "They both elevate your heart rate and increase your blood flow, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health. They also both work out the muscles and strengthen the bones."

What it boils down to is whichever type of exercise works for you and you'll actually do consistently is truly the best one.

Jogging provides a more vigorous workout than walking for the same investment of time, but walking is better for joint pain.

happy mature woman in woods demonstrating the plogging habits that slow aging

When actually comparing the two, jogging will increase your heart rate and blood flow more than walking, and you can torch higher calories jogging than you will when walking for an equal amount of time, making jogging more productive. But walking is extremely beneficial, too, as Dr. Bohl points out, "It's a lower impact activity, which can be good for those with joint pain. It may also be associated with lower rates of injury."

You can also wear pretty much anything to go walking, so it's super convenient. In addition, walking can be really social if you walk and talk with a friend, which is a total added bonus. It's a bit more challenging to jog and gab with someone.

Walking and jogging both present risks.

Either form of cardio you choose to do is safe, but both present the risk of falling or sustaining an injury. As with any type of workout, overdoing it, doing it incorrectly, or using the wrong equipment (such as improper running shoes), can also cause inflammatory issues such as plantar fasciitis or shin splints.

Dr. Bohl warns, "Jogging can also be harder on the body than running—particularly if you have joint pain—because it's a higher-impact activity. And it's always important to exercise within your means. If you aren't used to either activity or you have a chronic condition that decreases your ability to do either, make sure you stay within your limits and don't overexert yourself."

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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