Incline Fast Walk VS Running: Pros & Cons

Stuck deciding between going for an incline walk and running? That’s not surprising to hear, considering their differences seem nominal to many.

Both incline walking and running has their advantages and disadvantages. So, knowing the pros and cons will impact your health for certain. Depending on your situation or unique fitness goal, making the right choice between incline walking and running may make all the difference… who knows, maybe you’ll even dabble in both?

While incline walking is popular, some say running is even more so. That is why I’m here to break it down for you… sans bias. All I ask is that you take your time, open your mind, and get ready to choose what will suit your body best.

A Definition of Incline Fast Walking and Running

Everyone knows the feeling of walking up a steep hill. Incline fast walking consists of fast, uphill walking, often for the purpose of getting fit and healthy. Most incline walking is done using a treadmill’s incline feature. Incline mode raises the top half of the treadmill so that you’re walking at an incline.

The incline system on your treadmill might be motorized, much as you would see with an elliptical machine. You can also buy an incline trainer, make the adjustment manually, and best of all, have control of the gradient and decline. You’re not walking on an uneven road; however, you’re able to determine how steep the treadmill is below your feet. That’s how you’re guaranteed to get the best workout… the kind of workout seen only with incline walking.

With running, both feet are off the ground at the same time. Running is a rapid movement that can vary in speed, much like the difference between jogging around the park versus sprinting away from danger. According to Healthline, the average non-competitive runner can run a mile in 9-10 minutes. But most runners reach peak speeds between the ages of 18 and 30.

Another important fact is that running is a kind of anaerobic exercise. You’ll be using quick bursts of energy and as much effort as possible, all over a sustained period intended to produce results. Running can also be aerobic, more like cardio, depending on how you train. As recently as 2017, 55.9 million Americans were reportedly involved in running.

The Pros and Cons of Incline Fast Walking

Being informed about any type of exercise you’re contemplating starting is extremely important… to help you avoid injury, but also empower you to stick with it! It’s just as important as choosing the best walking shoes for rainy weather. You need to be prepared!

The Pros of Incline Fast Walking

  • Incline walking improves your quad muscles, hamstrings, and glutes.

Incline walking is high-intensity and consists of sustained effort without stopping. While incline fast-walking, you feel the tension in your legs as you’re climbing uphill, your quad muscles getting stronger, the result of the exercise leading to improved jump height and balance. You can also expect greater stability and consistency in how your legs perform. It’s this stability and consistency that’s seen in flexible, strong hamstrings.

Incline walking works both your hamstrings and calves, down to the gluteus maximus, one of the strongest muscles in the body. But the additional muscular strength needed for incline walking can also help with squats and lunges. Overall, strengthening your muscles is a big advantage of incline walking, so consider setting up your treadmill if you’re interested.

  • Incline walking increases stamina.

Stamina keeps you enduring stress and discomfort. The discomfort comes when you need to make it through a workout, especially since most of the time you’re working your muscles so hard. Add to that, the ability to get through exercise despite discomfort will make you into a fitter, healthier person overall. The truth is that you need stamina for finishing a marathon. Or, even for finishing a session on your treadmill.

Incline walking improves stamina. This will keep you better conditioned to do more in your workouts. Even if those workouts are too hot to endure without 15 strategies to survive in hot weather. At least you know you can start getting more walking done.

  • Incline walking burns more calories.

Of course, few fitness goals are more common than losing weight. Since incline walking is a more intense workout than you might think, the additional exertion that’s needed translates to more calories burned overall. Add to that, burning calories through incline walking has the added benefit of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, it’s a winning situation and mainly, for two important reasons. You burn calories and you lose weight, both successes you can easily benefit from.

The Cons of Incline Fast Walking

  • Your muscles are likely to get sore.

You know that achy, tender feeling washing over your body the next morning? The soreness comes from pushing your muscles beyond their limits. The gradual climb plays a toll on your lower muscles, but you’re guaranteed to feel the effects everywhere, especially if you keep going with incline walking. Maybe if you think about it, the soreness isn’t worth it. Not in the long run, if it’s affecting your productivity.  

  • Incline walking can cause shin splints

You mostly think of shin splints when you think of hours spent hitting the pavement running. But with incline walking, think of how your body moves slightly forward. Just thinking about it makes you feel the splitting pain. Of course, this pain gets worse when left untreated, as shin splints can cause a stress fracture, since the bone breaks once it can’t handle the load pressed against it. Repeated shin splints can be painful. They can also stop you from making progress to stay healthy. Shin splints are a problem you want to avoid if you plan on doing incline walking, especially for a prolonged length of time.  

  • Incline walking can cause lower back pain

One of the disadvantages of incline walking is the throbbing, aching, or shooting pain you might get in your lower back. The pain can come from the jarring that occurs throughout your body as your feet hit the pavement during an incline session. Also, you bend forward slightly as you walk uphill or push forward on a treadmill, so the repeated motion becomes awkward as you’re walking uphill at high speeds. So, it makes sense that you’d feel pain in your back. After all, it’s where many people who exercise by walking feel pain.

The Pros and Cons of Running

Running takes a tremendous amount of effort and commitment. You need to be invested physically and mentally in this exercise. It’s also important to stretch before every run and pay attention to your body’s cues that something may be off, especially if you’re away from home. Something that may seem harmless, such as pain in your ears or shins, can really throw you off your game if you’re not careful.  

The Pros of Running

  • Running increases lung capacity.

Lung capacity has everything to do with how much oxygen your body consumes at once. The more oxygen you have in your bloodstream, the better your heart will function, so running gives your lungs the kind of workout you’ve always wanted. Best of all, you’ll notice the benefits. In fact, from the moment you get into the habit of running, you’ll notice yourself having an easier time breathing. Overall, breathing will become easier with the more mileage you cover, even though running is meant to leave you feeling breathless. In the end, breathing freely and deeply are the keys to recovering from running at a faster rate.

  • Running improves bone density.

You wouldn’t want your bones to be less dense. But running improves bone density for your benefit. Your bones are exposed to more frequent and intense exercise. Running stimulates the bones enough that you feel strong enough to finish while completing your morning jog. Running also decreases your chances of developing osteoporosis. So, why not enjoy life with healthy, strong bones?

  • Running keeps you healthy in old age.

There’s good news if you’re planning on running into old age. People who practice jogging are reportedly less likely than everyone else to suffer heart attacks or strokes. A life without heart disease is a life with fewer worries and improved health. Add to that, improved bone density comes to mind, as running will give you a way to keep your bones healthy, strong, and less fragile overall. These are the kind of results you’re looking for if you’re a runner.  

The Cons of Running

  • Running causes damage to weight-bearing joints

If there’s any disadvantage to running, it’s the wearing down of your joints. That’s why endurance runners know they have to pace themselves carefully. If not, they’ll risk doing damage to joints in the legs.

The joints that hold you up when you stand include the ankles, knees, and hips. So, if you think of the speed at which your body is moving, weight-bearing joints are likely to degrade. Especially with consistently high-intensity exercise.

  • Running causes shin splints and hamstring injuries

Remember how bad shin splints sounded with incline walking? Running is an even more forceful activity, and when done for hours at a time, can lead to shin splints—especially, if you’re running on the pavement. To prevent shin splints, it’s important to consider the terrain, clothing, and shoes you’re wearing while running.

Now, for hamstring injuries, the muscles usually get stretched too far. Or, sometimes, they become suddenly overloaded. These injuries are hard to deal with when trying to get around on a typical day. Even more challenging when you need consistency.

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons

You’ve heard about the health benefits, the risks, the pros and cons of an incline walk vs running. Now, let’s look at the infographic below for a more detailed look at the advantages and disadvantages of incline walking over walking.

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How to Decide Between Incline Fast Walking and Running

Your fitness goals and unique health situation determine how you’ll choose between incline walking and running. Varying results may lead to changes in routine. Choosing the wrong workout on the wrong day could lead to fewer calories burned and less evident weight loss.

But if your fitness goals aren’t clear and concise, the exercise may not achieve its intended effect. So, when you’re choosing between the two exercises, consider some important points.

Choose incline fast walking if:

  • You have preexisting health conditions
  • You need a convenient way to get more exercise
  • You want intense exercise without the extra risks

Choose running if:

  • You’re at risk for osteoporosis
  • You prefer exercise that gets you out in nature
  • Healthy lungs and strong legs are two of your fitness goals

Final Thoughts on Incline Fast Walking vs. Running

Incline walking vs running… the difference is in the small details. You’ll need to assess a few things before committing to one or the other. These include:

  • Your fitness goals
  • Your overall health goals
  • Any physical health limitations
  • Time to invest
  • Access to equipment

Are you ready to get the kind of body you’ve always wanted? To crush those health goals? Then keep educating yourself on all the types of exercises you can do to get the results you want.  Get started by reading our article on Running on a Treadmill VS Stairmaster: Which is Better?.

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