Running is great for a lot of reasons; it’s a full body workout, a great cardiovascular exercise, it’s easy to do, doesn’t require much equipment and can actually be fun if you pace yourself. Here are the facts about running to lose weight, tone your body, and improve your overall health. One thing running will not do is help you lose weight fast. It takes patience and time, but once you lose the weight, you’ll be able to keep it off and maintain your healthy lifestyle.
Running for Weight Loss
It is true that running burns a lot of calories; a 140 pond person running for 40 minutes at 6mph is able to burn about 340 calories. Many people think running faster is better because it burns more calories, but the truth is any kind of running will help you lose or maintain weight and slower running actually burns more fat as opposed to just burning calories. As with any exercise program, the key to losing weight while running is to be consistent. Make time to run 3-4 times a week and try to participate in strength training program or an aerobic activity in between runs. You didn’t gain that extra weight overnight and you won’t be able to lose it overnight either.
Other Benefits of Running
Besides helping you lose those extra pounds, running is great for toning your entire body. Some runners experience weight gain or hit a plateau of their weight loss because running builds your muscles, and muscle weighs more than fat. So even if you find your weight going up a few pounds or if you find yourself stuck at a certain weight, you may want to examine your body fat percentage. Often runners who think they aren’t losing weight come to realize that they are losing fat and that their entire body is toning up.
Running + Good Nutrition = More Weight Loss
Running alone will not give you the body you’ve always wanted. You have to combine it with healthy eating choices, especially if you are running long distances. When you pair a regular running schedule with good eating habits you are raising your chances for weight loss success and you will see results much quicker. Runners sometimes over eat, thinking “I will run this off later.” But the truth is when you overeat you are working against your weight loss progress. Try eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Eat several times a day and eat smaller portions. Food is a runner’s fuel and it is important to give your body what it needs. Highly processed foods do not provide your body with the quality nutrients it needs. Make small changes each week and before you know it you will be eating healthily without even thinking about it.
For long distance runs, try power bars and gels to help get you through the run. It’s even more important to give your body the fuel it needs and craves if you are going to be running for more than an hour at a time.
Incorporate Interval Training
You can improve your endurance and speed while boosting your metabolism and burning more calories by incorporating interval training. Speeding up your metabolism will also help you continue to burn calories after your run, helping you lose more weight with running.
Here’s an example of an interval schedule:
Run at a comfortable pace for five minutes to warm up.
Speed up for four minutes running at about 80% of your maximum speed.
Run four minutes at a slower pace but try not to go slower than your warm up.
Repeat this two or three time, walking if you need to during slower intervals.
Just keep moving. After a few weeks of training on an interval schedule, you will find your pace naturally quickening and you will be able to run longer distances without feeling fatigued. Another form of interval training incorporates short but fast bursts sporadically throughout the run. Some people like the unstructured surprise element of this type of interval training. Whichever works best for you is fine, just keep it up.
Keep it Interesting
Sometimes running the same path day after day can get boring. Try using online resources to map out new trails or just start running in a direction you don’t normally go. If you choose to just start running make sure you have a phone with you in case you get lost. There are many websites like run.com that keep track of the trails available in your area. There are varying lengths and terrains so you’re sure to find something you like, and if you don’t you can create your own.