Running for weight loss

How running helps you lose weight

Running is a popular form of exercise linked with many health benefits, including weight loss. This article explains how running helps you lose weight.

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Last updated on June 14, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on June 2, 2022.

Running is an incredibly popular way to exercise.

In fact, it’s estimated that in the US alone, over 64 million people have run at least once in the past year.

Running is also linked to many health benefits and is one of the best types of exercise to help you lose weight.

This article explains how running can help you shed unwanted pounds.

There are many types of running

There are many different styles of running, each with its own unique purpose and benefits.

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These are the most popular types:

Summary: There are many types of runs, each with its own purpose and benefits. Normal runs are considered base runs.

It burns more calories than most exercises

Losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume, and exercise can help you do so.

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Running is a great option, as it burns more calories than most other types of exercise because it requires many different muscles to work hard together.

In particular, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) involving running burns the most calories per minute by using various muscles at their maximum power.

The difference in calories burned by running versus other exercises is supported by research.

For example, a study with 12 men and 12 women compared how many more calories running 1 mile (1,600 meters) burned than walking the same distance on both a treadmill and track.

Results showed that, on average, running 1 mile on the treadmill burned 33 more calories than walking, and running 1 mile on the track burned 35 more calories than walking.

33–35 calories may not seem like a huge difference at first, but over a 10-mile run, this may equal burning 330–350 more calories than walking the same distance.

A report by Harvard University compared the calories burned over 30 minutes by people at three different weights and found similar results.

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Specifically, they discovered that a 155-pound (70-kg) person could burn 372 calories in 30 minutes running at a moderate pace of 6 miles per hour (10 km per hour).

This is as many calories as are burned during vigorous swimming and martial arts, and even more than those burned during a 30-minute game of basketball.

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Summary: Running is an excellent choice of exercise for weight loss because it burns more calories than many alternatives.

High-intensity running continues to burn calories after exercise

Doing any exercise regularly will help you lose weight, but only a few types of exercise will continue to burn calories even after you finish working out.

High-intensity types of running like hill repeats and interval runs can continue to burn calories up to 48 hours after you work out.

These exercises use many muscles and need more energy afterward to recover. This is often labeled the “afterburn effect” among the fitness community.

Several studies have found that the “afterburn effect” could help you burn significantly more calories over time.

In one study, 10 men cycled for 45 minutes at an intense pace to calculate how many calories they burned after the workout and for how long.

The average participant burned 519 calories during their workout and an extra 190 calories over the 14 hours following the workout.

Although the above example uses cycling as an example, the “afterburn effect” applies to high-intensity running, too. Cycling is simply a convenient way to measure calories burned in a controlled laboratory study.

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Summary: High-intensity running like sprints, intervals, and hill runs can continue to burn calories long after a workout due to the “afterburn effect.”

High-intensity running suppresses appetite and helps you eat less

Many people try reducing their calorie intake by eating less food or changing the food they eat.

Unfortunately, these strategies may sometimes only increase hunger and make losing weight a challenge.

Several studies have found that high-intensity running may combat this struggle by reducing your appetite after a workout.

The exact processes surrounding this response are unclear, but one way high-intensity running may reduce appetite is by suppressing the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and producing more satiety hormones like peptide YY (PYY).

A study in 11 men found that running for 60 minutes or strength training for 90 minutes reduced ghrelin levels, compared to no exercise. Only running increased PYY production.

Another study with nine men compared the effect of 60 minutes of running and no exercise on ghrelin production. They found that running lowered ghrelin levels for three to nine hours in comparison to no exercise.

Summary: Running may help you lose weight by lowering the production of hunger hormones and increasing the production of satiety hormones.

Moderate-to-high intensity running targets harmful belly fat

Carrying excess belly fat is extremely bad for your health.

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Many studies show a connection between belly fat and an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other diseases.

Studies have found that moderate-to-high aerobic exercise like running can reduce belly fat, even without changing your diet.

An analysis of 15 studies and 852 participants found that aerobic exercise reduced belly fat without any change in diet. However, training at moderate-to-high intensity was most effective at reducing belly fat.

Another study of 27 middle-aged women found that high-intensity running considerably reduced belly fat, compared to low-intensity walking/running or no exercise.

Lastly, a study of 45 healthy but inactive women found that high-intensity interval exercises three times per week significantly reduced body fat and belly fat, compared to steady pace exercise or no exercise.

Summary: Many studies have found that moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise like running targets harmful belly fat, even without dietary changes.

Running has many other benefits for health

Aside from weight loss, running has been linked to many other health benefits.

A few specific health problems that running may help prevent or alleviate include:

Summary: Along with weight loss, running can provide various health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, reduced blood sugar, lower cataracts risk, lower falls risk, stronger knees, and less knee pain.

How to get started with running

There are many items available for running, but most beginners can get by on the bare minimum.

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This includes good running shoes, a comfortable top, a water bottle, running shorts, tights, or comfortable pants.

It is highly recommended for women to wear a sports bra while running to reduce pain. Reflective gear is highly recommended as well if you plan on taking your run during early hours or late at night. This will help to prevent any accidents.

Here are a few basics you should know before beginning a running workout:

Summary: Running is easy to begin and requires minimal equipment. A beginner should aim to run for 30 minutes 3 or 4 days a week, including 5 minutes of warming up and cooling down.

Sample running plan

If you would like to enjoy the benefits of running, here is a month-long plan to get you started.

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A beginner’s plan will start with alternating between running and walking, increasing the minutes spent running every week. Do each set of activities 3 to 4 days per week.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

After the month is over, try to progress by running for longer at your natural pace or walking less between each run. Try adding different styles of running as you feel more comfortable.

If you are not used to regular exercise or have any preexisting medical conditions that can be affected by exercise, consult a health professional before starting any exercise program.

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Summary: A beginner’s running plan should alternate between running and walking. As you progress, increase the time spent running weekly or decrease the time spent walking between runs.

How to stay motivated

Sticking to a dedicated running plan can help you achieve long-term success with your weight loss goals.

The trick to staying motivated is to keep it fun so you won’t be tempted to make any excuses to avoid your workout.

Keep your workouts interesting by changing your running route every few weeks or adding in different types of runs like intervals or hill repeats.

Running with a friend that challenges you can keep you accountable and provides extra safety if you run during the early or late hours of the day.

If you find it difficult to motivate yourself early in the morning, try laying your running gear out the night before to save the effort in the morning.

Signing up for marathons or other competitions when you are comfortable can also provide you with extra motivation for running and keep you focused.

Summary: Changing your workouts often or running with a friend can make your routine fun and help you to stay motivated long-term.

Summary

Running is an excellent form of exercise for weight loss.

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It burns a lot of calories, may help you continue to burn calories long after a workout, may help suppress appetite, and targets harmful belly fat.

What’s more, running has many other benefits for your health and is simple to begin with.

Unlike many other types of exercise, running requires little equipment, can be done anywhere and there are many ways to keep things interesting.

If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to run, try finding a running partner or changing routines frequently to add variety to your workout.

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