Professors at the University of Brescia in Italy studied this very question, and published their findings in the European Journal of Physics. They found that running is best, but sometimes walking is too. Confused? So were we, so we went down to Georgia Tech to get more details on this very question.
Physics professor Flavio Fenton explains, “How wet will I get? Should I walk or should I run? It’s actually a complicated answer, but it depends on how the rain is falling. If the rain is falling on top of you, or at an angle towards you, it is better to run, and run as fast as you can. But when the rain is coming at you from the back, you have to run, but not as fast as you can.”
However, if the rain is pouring, and coming down very hard, the study finds you are better off walking. Why? For starters, the rainfall rate is simply too high to outrun it and stay even remotely dry. Second, the ground cannot absorb the water that quickly, so you end up splashing back a significant amount of water onto yourself as you run. Hence, you should walk.
So in the end, what is the best solution? Fenton says, “So actually the best thing to do is if the rain is coming at you, or above you, or behind you, the best thing to do is carry an umbrella.”
Georgia Tech will be having public outreach programs all fall for the public to attend to learn more about topics like this and more. For more details, and to sign up, please firstname.lastname@example.org.