Is jogging for weight loss better than running?

Many people wonder what the difference is between running and jogging to lose weight.   I think that the answer is…time.   Let me explain.   When people set out to lose weight by exercising, they are not able to run for any significant period of time without overexerting themselves.   In fact most people are better off starting with walking and building up rather than diving straight in at running.

It is widely reported that it is better to exercise in the so-called ‘fat burning zone’, so jogging, being lower intensity, should be better for weight loss than running.   Whilst it is true that your body cannot burn fat as quickly as other forms of stored energy, what really matters for weight loss is the total number of calories used.   Where the energy comes from in the short term is irrelevant, as the short-term energy stores will be replenished after exercising by burning fat.


Incidentally, don’t be put off jogging or running to lose weight by the anti-running BS which lazy people like to promote, which says that runners are much more likely to get injured than non-runners.   There is evidence that starting any exercise can cause injuries.   Running for the first time in years without any build up can overstress underused muscles and joints.

How can people start losing weight by exercising?   All the evidence points to following some basic rules:

  1. Seek medical advice BEFORE starting out on an exercise regime, especially if you haven’t exercised for some time.
  2. Start with what you CAN do.   Usain Bolt wasn’t able to run 100m in 9.58 seconds the first time he put on running shoes, so why should you expect to be able to run continuously for 30 minutes if you haven’t walked for more than 10 minutes in the last 5 years?   Start with walking.   Aim for 30 minutes per day.   If you can’t manage 30 minutes, start with what you can do and build up.   Then start increasing your pace.  And so on.
  3. If it hurts STOP.

In a very short period of time most people will have reached the stage of running for 30 minutes per day.   That’s when the real weight loss kicks in.   But even before then the health benefits will have started – improvements to cardiovascular health, and an improved immune system to name just two!

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Running weight loss increases with distance.

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A study of over 120,000 runners has found that running weight loss increases with the distance run per week.   It sounds pretty obvious really, but the people that run most miles in a week weighed less and had smaller waist measurements than those who ran less.   This is a clear indication of just how effective running or jogging can be for reducing weight.

The fundamental reason that running is so effective is that weight loss depends upon creating a deficit of energy, or a calorie deficit.   Simply use up more calories everyday than you consume (e.g. from eating) and you will start to use up your fat reserves – and lose weight.  Running uses more calories per hour than any other form of exercise.   This is because it is fully weight bearing  – unlike, for instance, swimming or cycling.   It is also very intense – most other exercises are intermittent, but running is full on for the whole time.


Another study of mildly overweight people in their 50s and 60s found that, as long as the participants did not change their diet, those who started running regularly lost around 10% of their body weight in a year.   So much for middle age spread being inevitable!   At the same time they increased their VO2 max – the scientific measure of physical work capacity.   Whilst not covered by this particular study, the participants also will have benefited from improvements to their cardiovascular fitness, and a strengthening of their immune systems.   Running really is the best way to lose weight, and improve your health!

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