Exercise: We all know that it's a vital part of healthy living, but we're not all doing it enough!

The fact is that although some of us swear by having a run at the gym, others of us can never quite enjoy ourselves doing this.

People who would prefer to head out for a walk rather than a run could well welcome recent research into these two activities, though.

It found that having a brisk walk could bring down the chances of having high cholesterol and high blood pressure and getting diabetes to a comparable extent that going for a run could.

That's according to the American Heart Association, the organisation behind the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology in which the study was published.

“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,” explained the lead author of the study, Paul T. Williams, Ph.D. from the Life Science Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, USA.

In the research, some 15,045 walkers and 33,060 runners were analysed. The walkers were taken from the National Walkers' Health Study, the runners from the National Runners' Health Study. They told researchers about their activity through questionnaires.

It was discovered the same energy made use of in walking at moderate intensity and running at vigorous intensity lead to decreases in diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol risk that were similar for both these two types of exercise across the six years covered by the research.

“The more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits," Dr Williams added.

When the same level of energy was used by runners and by walkers, these groups shared comparable health benefits, he explained.

One thing that set this study apart again previous research was the fact that it looked at how far runners and walkers traveled, not how long they did these activities for.

Dr Williams explained that walking could perhaps be a type of activity that was more sustainable than running where some people were concerned.

He added though that people who run rather than walk do double the amount of exercise as walkers.

"This is probably because they can do twice as much in an hour,” he suggested.

“People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise, but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health,” he said.

When the amount of energy expired was compared to different conditions participants said they had been diagnosed with, it was discovered that walking decreased the risk of getting hypertension for the first time by 7.2 per cent and running decreased it by 4.2 per cent.

Walking decreased getting diabetes for the first time 12.3 per cent and running 12.1 per cent.

And walking decreased having high cholesterol for the first time by seven per cent, running by 4.3 per cent.

What are you waiting for? Walking is a healthy and fun activity that in these days of cars and office jobs, many of really ought to be doing more of.