Why running is great for weight loss

Running and weight loss – the facts

Running can be a great form of exercise for weight loss. Here we discuss how many calories you can burn when running, as well as the best forms of running for weight loss. We even explain why you may find that you are not losing weight, despite training hard.  

How good is running for weight loss?

Running can be a very effective way to lose weight. According to the NHS it burns more calories than most other mainstream exercises. So, how many calories does running burn? Well, calorie burn depends upon the effort exerted as well as an individual’s weight. However, a study undertaken at the Syracuse University found that when men ran 1600m on a treadmill, which equates roughly to one mile, they burnt 124 calories (519 kilojoules) whilst running. Women who ran the same distance burnt 105 calories (439 kilojoules) when they ran the same distance. As a rough guide therefore, you tend to burn between 100 and 125 calories (418 or 523 kilojoules) when running.

However, although running can help you to burn calories and slim down, make sure that when you do begin to lose weight you tweak your training accordingly. Once you’ve hit a weight loss goal you need to make your workout harder. You can make your training harder by either running faster or further, or by doing tougher sessions. For example, you could try interval sessions or hill sessions.

By doing this you will make sure that you continue to lose weight until you reach your final weight loss goal. Then you can switch to a maintenance-training programme. If you do not tweak your running sessions as your running ability progresses, you will hit a weight loss plateau and probably struggle to continue to lose weight.

What kind of running is best for weight loss?

The Weight Loss Control Registry explains that to lose weight we need to burn 2,800 calories (11715 kilojoules) each week via exercise. To achieve this level of calorie burn, you could do a mix of running sessions, including some that are completed at a slower pace and some that include some super-fast sprint interval sessions.

For example, if you ran 7 miles (11km) at a 9.10 mile pace for 55 minutes twice a week you’d burn 1500 calories (6276 kilojoules) if you weighed 75kg (please note, calorie burn depends upon an individual’s weight, so your calorie burn maybe greater or smaller than the figures stated here). Then, if you did a sprint session, running 4 miles (6km) at a 7.30 mile pace for 30 minutes twice a week you’d burn 1000 calories (4184 kilojoules).

So, by doing two longer, slower runs per week and two faster, interval sessions per week you would burn 2500 calories (10460 kilojoules), which is 300 calories (1255 kilojoules) short of the calorie burn that the Weight Loss Control Registry recommends for weight loss. Burn those extra calories by cross training. Completing a strength training session on top of your weekly run sessions would be good because as you begin to lose weight you may find your muscle mass begins to decrease.

Other perks of running for weight loss

Although it’s true that going to the gym is an excellent way to lose weight, unlike the gym, running is time efficient and flexible. You can complete an interval session that burns a decent amount of calories in less than 25 minutes. Just getting to the gym can take 25 minutes for some people.

Plus, as long as you have your running kit and it is safe to do so, you can run anywhere at any time. That means you can’t rely on excuses like ‘The gym is shut’ or ‘I’m on a business trip’ to duck out of your next weight loss exercise session.

When running won’t be effective for weight loss

Sometimes running won’t help you lose weight. For example, some runners think that because they are training for a marathon they can eat whatever they fancy. That’s not the case. Overeating is a common mistake a lot of runners make, and despite training very hard some runners actually find that they put on more weight when they begin to train.

To avoid this issue work out how much you need to be consuming per day, factoring in your height, weight and the amount of exercise you are doing. Then stick to that figure.

Similarly, you may find that you stop losing weight if you let boredom creep into your sessions. To combat boredom, vary your running routes, enter events and make running social, by running with friends or joining a running club. Doing a mix of running sessions will also help battle boredom.

Another reason you may find that you stop losing weight is because you’ve suffered from a running related injury. To help keep you injury-free, always warm-up and cool down correctly, foam roll when necessary and ensure you always have the right kinds of running shoes for the type of running you plan to do. You also need to make sure you are running on safe surfaces, that you allow your body time to rest and recover and that you never over-train, running too far or too hard. Finally, to prevent common running injuries make sure you incorporate cross training into your training plan too.

 

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