Principal study author Paul T. Williams of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkeley, Calif., and colleagues analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners' Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers' Health Study.
The study found over the six-year study period the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and possibly coronary heart disease.
"Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities," Williams said in a statement.
However, unlike previous studies, the researchers assessed walking and running expenditure by distance, not by time.
"The more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits," Williams said. "If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable."
The findings were reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.