Running for weight loss

The title of this article is a little misleading, as I don’t think that running is a good choice of exercise for weight loss. In my opinion, it is one of the worst ways to go about it. It’s important to note, I’m referring here to the type of running known as jogging and not to sprints, which are an entirely different type of physical activity.

It is common knowledge that to achieve positive results in any attempt at body transformation, consistency and persistence are the key factors. Unfortunately, these are more difficult to achieve with running than with most other types of physical activity. Compared to other types of exercise, to achieve tangible results, running requires a significantly bigger time investment. The risk of injury is higher and the results come slower.

To initiate the fat burning process in our bodies, while running at a slow to moderate pace, we need between 30 and 45 minutes. This means that if we run for one hour, we only get 20 minutes of fat burning activity. This inefficient process needs to be repeated week after week, month after month and yes, year after year. All of the above makes our running commitment hard to sustain, especially during winter months when the days are short and the weather doesn’t encourage us to go outdoors.

Running, together with powerlifting and crossfit, is one of the top three most damaging types of training. Running is also considered an impact sport, like boxing, football or hockey. The damaging effects are amplified by the fact that most people wanting to lose weight are, well, overweight, which puts even more load on their joints. For this reason at least 80% of people who run, sooner or later, end up with an injury.

Long distance running is one of the great classic endurance sports. I have no intention here to discourage anyone from trying it and developing a passion for it. However, if your goal is to control your storage body fat, there are much better and more effective ways to do that. My personal recommendation would be to try one of the many types of high-intensity workouts. They stimulate our metabolism in a way that extends the fat burning process beyond the duration of the exercise. There is no point taking on running, dreading it, and then only thinking about not having to do it anymore. In that situation you are more likely to stop doing it due to an injury, rather than to having achieved your goal.

To find out more about running and weight loss, check out episode 3 of the podcast where I talk with Mike Kissane, a seasoned marathon runner.

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