Why is running so good for weight loss?

Running for weight loss really is the best way to shed those extra pounds. If you want to get in shape and lose weight, running is about as good as it gets and here’s why.

Firstly, running uses more calories per hour than just about any other form of exercise – typically 800 – 1000 per hour. To lose weight you have to burn up the calories stored in your fat reserves. The more calories you burn, the more you lose. Just make sure you don’t compensate for your exercise by consuming extra calories or you’ll never lose any weight.

Many people start running with a target in mind. This is a great idea if you are trying to lose weight. Having set yourself a goal, maybe running your first marathon or entering a triathlon, keeping the goal fixed in your mind helps keep you fully motivated to keep running.


We all know it’s too easy to ‘fall off the wagon’ when you are trying to diet to lose weight. After all, dieting is just about bad news, drudge and thinking of things you want but can’t have. However, if you are working on a longer-term project like your first marathon, you are much more likely to keep it going. And persistence is the key. Remember, you didn’t gain those extra pounds in one week, so you can’t expect to lose them that quickly either!

Another great benefit of running is that you can tailor it to your personality. Some people need the support of others and enjoy the camaraderie of getting fit with friends. And having a running buddy is a great way of overcoming the urge to skip a run because you can’t be bothered.

Other people may prefer solitude – quiet reflection on the universe without interruptions from other people. People like this (er, like me in fact!) will find the idea of joining a club or gym really off-putting. If you want to be alone, going for a run can be a great way of finding your own space.

Finally, a thought about why it’s easy to lose weight some ways but not others. Think about going on a diet. It’s all about not having things that you like. It is really hard graft, but you can have the rewards of a new slimmer you if you succeed.

On the other hand, running and other aerobic exercises have some killer weapons to help you through. They are called endorphins. They are Nature’s natural feel good drugs. After exercising vigorously, your body releases endorphins into your blood stream to give you a completely legal ‘high’. So in addition to burning through a load of calories, you also get a ‘feel good all over’ reward. You feel good at the time, AND you are completely motivated to keep on going out for your runs.

Soon you can get to the stage where you go out running because you enjoy it, and forget that you were meant to be losing weight. You will still lose weight, of course, but it is now just a natural by-product of doing what you enjoy anyway! Running really is the key to successful weight loss!

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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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