Whether you are trying to lose weight for the first time or you've been on this journey for a while, running is an exercise to work up to. If you have been thinking about running for weight loss, you have probably wondered why you should consider running over other exercises. Read on and discover all you need to know to get started on your running journey.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Running

A group of runner in the campetition

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If you have been asking yourself why you should pick up running for weight loss instead of another form of exercise, we will go into depth about why running may be your exercise of choice. While running may not be for everyone, it does have numerous health benefits and can aid in weight loss.

Health Benefits of Running

Though exercising in general has many health benefits, here are some health benefits specific to running:

  • ​Those who run when they are younger are less likely to fall when they are older, meaning they have a reduced risk of injury
  • ​Running at least 5 to 10 minutes a day has been found to reduce your risk of heart disease by 45%
  • ​By making your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin, running can help to reduce blood sugar levels
  • ​Running burns more calories than many alternative forms of exercise in the same duration of time

Running Can Help Reduce Your Appetite

Running can help many people to reduce their appetite, which translates to eating fewer calories (while simultaneously burning more), and losing weight. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) while running is the most effective way to reduce your appetite. HIIT is where you run at a high intensity level, as fast as you can, for an extended period of time before a short period of slower, more comfortable running. This type of training reduces grehlin in your body, which is the hormone that makes you hungry.

When you have less grehlin, you start feeling hungry less. If you don't constantly feel like you want to snack on something, you are more successful in cutting calories. Over time, this cutting of calories combined with the burning of calories while running can cause weight loss success.

Start Burning Calories When You're at Rest

Wouldn't it be great if you could burn calories even when you're sitting down catching up on your favorite television show? The more you run, the more this fantasy can become your reality. High-intensity interval training is another amazing way to increase your burned calorie amount when you're at rest, but all forms of running will help you with this. Basically, as you continually tear your muscles and rebuild them, increasing muscle mass, you start to burn more calories even when you aren't doing anything at all.

While HIIT helps you to burn a ton of calories even during your workout, studies have shown that it also has an "afterburn effect." This effect, where your body will continue to burn calories at an accelerated rate hours after your workout ends, means that you can work towards weight loss even while you're relaxing at home. Between the increased afterburn effect and the reduced appetite side effects, HIIT can be the best friend of anyone considering running for weight loss.

Running Can Seem Hard on Your Knees

For those who aren't too familiar with regularly running, or even working out at all, taking a simple run may feel like an assault on your knees and joints. These people may feel discouraged early on and become too sore to continue with their workout, so they may think running is not for them.

In reality, some of these people overextend themselves, which is the real reason they feel pain. And though some soreness at first is normal, it's also true that over time, those who run are shown to have stronger knees, reduced risk of arthritis, and reduced knee pain compared to those who don't.

If you have thought running was too intense for you, it could be worth trying again at a slower pace. Checking with your doctor is always recommended, however. For some, a lower-intensity exercise like using an elliptical may be more preferred.

4 Tips for Running for Weight Loss

runner getting ready to run in running field

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Now that you know more about the health benefits of running for weight loss, you may be thinking about starting to run. But before immediately lacing up your shoes and hitting the pavement, we have some tips that may make your running journey go more smoothly.

Start Out Slowly

It doesn't matter whether this is your first time putting on sneakers or whether you've been running your whole life. Always take time to stretch out your limbs a bit before heading out the door for your run. A few warm up exercises are never a bad idea. When you do start running, it is important that you try not to overextend your body. While it's good to push yourself, you shouldn't feel overly sore to the point where you can't repeat the exercise within a few days.

As a beginner, you shouldn't be afraid to start out with a short run. After all, even running for five minutes is better than not running at all. And for those who are trained runners, while you may want to test your limits, it's also crucial that you don't suddenly tack on more to your exercise than you're capable of. Even trained athletes need breaks sometimes, which helps to rebuild your muscles and prevent injuries.

Stay Motivated

Staying motivated is key to running for weight loss, or any form of exercise. Running may not seem enjoyable at first, especially because you have to "break through" the uncomfortable part of running to get to that fabled "runner's high." When your body is sore, it's tempting to give up on your new activity as a whole. Finding your way to stay motivated will increase the likelihood that you stick with running and lose weight in the long run.

Motivation is personal and varies from person to person. Some people may just need an upbeat and excited playlist to get them to run. Others may feel incentivized to run if they have a running buddy to accompany them on their workout. For some, running on the treadmill at the gym using a membership they paid for may get them out of bed in the morning. Still others may prefer taking a jog around their neighborhood as a way to burn calories. No matter what prompts you to keep running, it's important to find a way to stay motivated so that you continue to see results and reap the health benefits.

Evaluate Your Diet

While running will undoubtedly burn way more calories than if you were not running or exercising at all, it is important to note that exercise is only one part of the weight loss equation. It is necessary to consider how your diet is affecting your weight loss journey as well. It's common for people to overestimate how many calories they are actually burning in a workout. Though the exercise makes you sweat and feels like hard work, it is not magic. Many people think they've burned hundreds more calories than they really did and thus justify to themselves eating a cookie or some other high-calorie food after their workout.

As a result, weight loss may not happen simply because you still aren't creating a calorie deficit in your routine. Consider eating higher quality, nutrient-dense foods instead of packaged, processed foods with little nutritional value. These foods will fill you up while giving you the nutrients your body craves.

Add Strength Training to Your Routine

Many people make the mistake of thinking cardio is all you need to lose weight. And while it is true that you can lose weight with cardio alone, you also aren't working as many muscles as you could be otherwise. By incorporating strength training into your workout, you increase the number of muscle groups that feel the burn and grow afterwards. You can also reduce your risk of injury while running by building up muscles and strength all over your body.

When you start strength training and you build even more muscle in your body, you also increase the amount of calories you burn while resting. Like stated before, this will help you to lose weight more efficiently and quickly, while you also get the health benefits of exercising.


a guy running for weight loss

​Image Source: Unsplash

Running can seem intimidating to those who are just starting out or even to those who are experienced athletes. But while running can be difficult, it has tons of health benefits, from reducing your blood sugar levels to reducing your risk of heart disease. Even more incredibly, running can increase the number of calories you burn even while resting.

If you have been thinking about running for weight loss, you should feel more confident about why this exercise can help you lose weight after reading this article. By starting out slow and working your way up to higher intensities and longer distances, you can become a runner too!

​Featured Image Source: Pixabay

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