Running is definitely one of the best ways to lose weight but running alone does not produce optimum results. Combining a healthy balanced diet and with a moderate intensity workout can generate the best weight loss results both in the short term and in the long run.
Running and health benefits
Running is a form of aerobic exercise and we outlined the benefits of aerobic exercise in a previous post. As a quick reminder, running and aerobic exercises in general offer the following health benefits:
Better functioning of the heart
Reduces stress and improves mental health
Makes the immune system stronger against diseases
Is a natural energy booster
Advantages of running for weight loss
Running has a number of advantages when it comes to weight loss:
Burns a lot of calories – Running for 30 minutes burns around 280 calories for a person weighting 155lbs or 70Kg. The number may increase/decrease depending on the weight, duration and intensity of the exercise but in general this is what to expect. Compared to other 30 minute workouts running is among the most efficient forms of exercise for shedding pounds.
You only need a pair of trainers – Running does not require the purchase of any expensive equipment or enrolling into any subscription/gym program. In the majority of the cases you only need a good pair of running shoes, a training plan to follow and lots of willpower.
Flexibility – You can run outdoors or indoors (treadmill) any time you want. If you don’t have any injury or joint problems you can choose where and when to run without any special preparations or restrictions.
How to begin with running?
- Check with your doctor first. Running increases the heart beat rate so it’s better to make a health checkup and get your doctor’s approval before beginning running.
- Get a good pair of trainers – From experience having the proper shoes can make a difference when running. We are not going to explain how to choose running shoes here but it certainly helps to wear shoes suited for running.
- Stretching is a must- Never try to run without doing 5-10 minutes stretching.
- Next you need a good plan. This is necessary especially if you have not run for a number of years. You can assume that it may take you up to 2 months to get into proper shape and run for at least 30 continuous minutes. When I started running again (after almost 2 years) this is the plan I followed:
Week 1 and 2:
3 Sessions per week (25 minutes per session)– 5 minute stretching, 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes stretching
Week 3 and 4:
3 Sessions per week (35 minutes per session)– 5 minute stretching, 10 minutes walking, 10 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes stretching
Week 5 and 6:
3 Sessions per week (40 minutes per session)– 5 minute stretching, 5 minutes walking, 20 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes stretching
Week 7 and 8:
3 Sessions per week (50 minutes per session)– 5 minute stretching, 5 minutes walking, 30 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes stretching
Disadvantages of running for weight loss
There are also some disadvantages of running for the purpose of losing weight and these are highlighted below. Nevertheless the advantages and health benefits gained are more important and overcome any drawbacks.
Joint problems – Running may cause chronic joint problems that are difficult to overcome.
Some forms of exercise are more efficient – Some people claim that it is better to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for 20 minutes and burn the same number of calories as running for 60 minutes. In addition HIIT is better for fat loss since it increases calories burn after exercise.
Is running the best way to lose fat?
Aerobic exercises can help you lose weight from different parts of the body but for fat loss you need to combine both aerobic and anaerobic exercise to your schedule. Resistance training and weight lifting exercises are more efficient for burning fat and if you combine your efforts with a balanced diet you can get the results you want.