Rucking vs. Running: Which is Better?

Rucking and running are two popular forms of exercise that involve cardiovascular activity. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences between the two activities that can impact your fitness goals and overall health.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between rucking and running, including the benefits and drawbacks of each activity. By the end, you should have a better understanding of which activity might be best suited for your fitness goals and lifestyle.

What is Rucking?

Rucking is a form of exercise that involves walking or hiking with a weighted backpack, also known as a rucksack. This activity has its roots in the military, where soldiers often carry heavy loads on their backs as part of their training.

In recent years, rucking has gained popularity as a civilian fitness activity. The weight of the backpack can vary depending on the individual’s fitness level and goals, but generally ranges from 10-50 pounds.

Benefits of Rucking

  1. Strength Training: Rucking can be a great form of strength training, as it engages the muscles in your back, shoulders, and legs. By carrying a heavy load, you’ll be working these muscles harder than you would during a typical walk or hike, which can help to build strength and endurance over time.
  2. Low Impact: Rucking is a low-impact activity, which means it’s less stressful on your joints than running. This makes it a great option for people with joint pain or injuries, as well as those who are new to exercise.
  3. Mental Health Benefits: Rucking can also have mental health benefits. The act of walking with a weighted backpack can be meditative and can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, rucking can be a social activity, as it’s often done in groups, which can help to boost mood and feelings of connection.

Drawbacks of Rucking

  1. Time: Rucking can be a time-consuming activity, as it requires a longer period of time to cover the same distance as running.
  2. Limited Cardiovascular Benefits: While rucking can provide cardiovascular benefits, it may not be as effective as running in terms of improving cardiovascular fitness.

What is Running?

Running is a form of cardiovascular exercise that involves moving at a faster pace than walking. It can be done indoors or outdoors, and doesn’t require any special equipment other than a good pair of running shoes.

Benefits of Running

  1. Cardiovascular Health: Running is a highly effective form of cardiovascular exercise, as it elevates your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. Over time, regular running can improve your cardiovascular fitness, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Convenience: Running is a convenient form of exercise, as it can be done almost anywhere and at any time. You don’t need any special equipment or a gym membership to go for a run, which makes it a great option for people who want to fit exercise into their busy schedules.
  3. Mental Health Benefits: Running has been shown to have numerous mental health benefits, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, boosting mood and self-esteem, and improving cognitive function.

Drawbacks of Running

  1. High Impact: Running is a high-impact activity, which means it can be hard on your joints. This can increase your risk of injury, especially if you’re not using proper form or if you’re running on hard surfaces.
  2. Overuse Injuries: Running is also associated with overuse injuries, such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis. These injuries can be painful and can take time to heal, which can be frustrating for runners who want to stay active.

Rucking vs. Running: Which is Better?

The answer to this question depends on your individual fitness goals and preferences. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between rucking and running:

  1. Fitness Goals: If your primary fitness goal is to build strength and endurance, rucking may be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn more calories, running may be a better choice.
  2. Time Constraints: If you have limited time to exercise, running may be a more efficient choice. Running can cover more ground in a shorter amount of time, which can be helpful if you’re trying to fit exercise into a busy schedule.
  3. Joint Health: If you have joint pain or injuries, rucking may be a better option as it’s a low-impact activity. However, if you’re careful to use proper form and invest in good running shoes, running can be a safe and effective form of exercise for people with healthy joints.
  4. Mental Health: Both rucking and running can have mental health benefits, but they may affect people differently. Some people find the meditative nature of rucking to be calming, while others find the endorphin rush of running to be energizing.
  5. Social Connection: Rucking is often done in groups, which can be a great way to connect with others and build a sense of community. Running can also be a social activity, but it’s typically done solo.


In summary, rucking and running are both great forms of exercise that can improve your physical and mental health in different ways. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences that can impact which activity is best suited for your goals and lifestyle. Ultimately, the best form of exercise is one that you enjoy and can stick to over the long term.