The best way to start running for weight loss is…

…walking!

Now don’t get me wrong – running for weight loss really works. But if you haven’t exercised for ages and are a bit overweight, jumping straight in to running is probably too big a step.

Think about it.

  • You didn’t learn how to write by penning a 400 page novel.
  • Your first steps as a baby were not a full sprint at world record pace.
  • The first time you drove a car I’m betting it wasn’t in a Formula One race!

When stepping up to a higher level of any endeavour – be it writing, walking, driving or anything else – it will take some time for your body to adjust. Exercise is exactly the same. And many people who just want to make excuses for not doing something for their health, will use this as an excuse not to try exercising. You must have heard it “Did you hear about poor old Sid – started running to get fit and twisted his knee. Exercise is too risky for me. I’ll just stick to eating the pies….”


The fact is, running before you can walk really is a bad idea.

  • You need to build up a few muscles.
  • You need to lubricate your joints so they don’t feel the strain of the new level of exercise.
  • You need to stretch your muscles so they are not so tight and likely to get strained.
  • You may need to improve your circulation so that your lungs can supply enough oxygen for the amount of work that you are going to do.

The human body is a wonderful thing. It can adapt enormously. It can adapt to living in very hot inhospitable places on earth. It can adapt to the solitude of living on tiny space craft Millions of miles from home. It can adapt to surviving where food is scarce. And it can adapt to doing a huge amount more exercise. It just needs time.

It’s really difficult, I know. You have just decided that this year you ARE going to lose weight, get fit and run that marathon. GREAT! WELL DONE! And now I’m telling you to take it easy. But believe me, you will make much faster progress if you start with walking. Steadily increase pace and distance. Then start jogging a bit. Then a bit more. Then a bit more. Then running a bit. Then a bit more. And so on.

If you go out for a run for the first time in 20 years with out any preparation you may get injured. Or you might just find it too much of a strain and give up. Either way is MUCH slower at achieving your goal than slow, steady progress.

Running for weight loss really can change your life. But it’s taken you some time and effort to put on those extra pounds and do so little exercise. Now take the time to transform your body without pushing yourself too hard at first. It may seem like slow progress. But progress is better than having a setback due to injury. Continuous steady steps towards your goal are better that taking one step forward and two steps back!

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Forget the Caveman diet …

Try LIVING like a caveman if you really want to lose weight:

  • Run 5 – 10 miles a day
  • Eat as much Wildebeest as you can, whenever you can

You’ll have that slim, sexy body you were craving before you know it!

Alternatively if you don’t live in Manhattan, so you can’t lay your hands on fresh Wildebeest, you could try the more convenient version. All you have to do to lose weight and keep it off is run 10 miles per week. A major scientific study found that, whatever else the participants in the trial did, if they ran more than 10 miles a week they lost weight. Amazing! Even despite modern humans having a pretty sedentary life, they still only have to run less than half the amount that our predecessors did to have a sexy slim body. How good is that!


I know from my own experience that the amount I run correlates pretty well with my weight – the more I run, the less I weigh. I mean, I’m not perfect – unlike all those irritating robots whose body is a temple, who workout 3 times a day, and eat nothing but grass-fed beef. I’m actually a real human being.

  • Sometimes I run. When I do, I really enjoy it.
  • Sometimes I miss a few days. Busy / lazy / easily distracted…. Whatever.
  • Sometimes I miss a week, or even two. Now you know I’m human.
  • Sometimes I’ve even missed some months – usually due to an unplanned visit to the hospital. Nothing to do with running – it just turns out I really should not be allowed to handle craft knives when I’m working on the house….

Anyway, being a sad geek, I have a record of my weight and the amount that I ran for the last 12 years. It clearly shows that running more than 10 miles a week causes my weight to drop to my target level. Then, when I ‘let myself go’ and ease off the running, the pounds just start creeping back on again. Great incentive to get the running shoes on!

Please bear in mind that I don’t really control my diet very much. The robots would be horrified! I drink alcohol when I want to. I eat pretty much what I want. Fortunately I don’t want burgers – ever. Unfortunately I do like a nice pizza sometimes. And some say I could be addicted to bread and pasta. But still running helps keep my weight in the ideal BMI range, whilst all around me are expanding at an alarming rate!

So forget the caveman diet, or any of the latest diet nonsense. Just start running. And keep doing it. Once you are in shape 10 miles a week is not much – maybe three short (i.e. 30 minutes or less) runs per week. And you can eat pretty much what you like, and still have sexy muscular legs, and no excess flab.

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How far do you have to run to lose weight?

Taking up running to lose weight is very popular, but some people don’t seem to be able to make it work. What are they missing?

There are a few essential ingredients to making a success of losing weight by running. The first and most obvious is to make sure you do the right quantity and quality. Twenty minutes light jogging on a treadmill per week just won’ t make a lot of difference. Conversely, if you haven’t carried out any serious exercise for years, you may not be able to manage even that to start with.

The solution? Start with what you can do and build up. Walk if that’s all you can manage, but make sure you do it every day, building up to 30 minutes per day. Then start interspersing walking and jogging for your 30 minutes. Slowly but steadily increase your level of exertion. This may seem like a slow way of losing weight, but it works.


A major study looked at people who started running as a way of losing weight. They all started out being seriously overweight or obese and started at a low level. Nearly all managed to lose significant amounts of weight AND keep it of after 12 months. The tipping point appears to be around 10 miles per week running. Above this level and almost everyone lost significant amounts of weight. And the more running they did, the more they lost, regardless of any other factors.

Now you have a clear target of running to workup to, all you need to do is start. The key is persistence. Most people didn’t put on their excess pounds all in one week. Therefore they shouldn’t expect to lose it all in one week either. But starting at a level they can achieve, doing it regularly (and I mean daily, not monthly!), and building up to a target of 10 miles a week of running or more, and everyone can lose weight. Just make sure you don’t treat yourself for your exertions by scoffing cream buns!

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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 to lose weight – tips to make sure it works!

Don’t go on a diet – running to lose weight is much better!  Some people have trouble making it work so here are a few tips to make sure that your running weight loss program really works:

  1. Don’t over compensate by eating too much.   Many people give themselves a treat after going for a run.   Nothing wrong with that.   But if you eat more calories than you burn, you will actually put weight on.   For example, many runners like to have a beer after going for a run.  A typical pint of beer contains as many calories as you would burn by running 2 miles!   If you run 4 miles in 30 minutes, half of your run went into burning the calories from your ‘treat’!
  2. Don’t try to do all of your running in one or two runs per week.   You may be pressed for time (aren’t we all?), but to really make some inroads into shedding those extra pounds you need to run regularly.   Ideally 4 or 5 times a week.   Once it becomes a habit it’s easier to get those running shoes on and get running.   Also doing more frequent but shorter runs you will still use as many calories but you are much less likely to overstrain your joints and muscles.   If you haven’t exercised for a while (and since you are reading this I’m guessing that you haven’t!), you need to take care not to try too hard, too soon.

  3. If losing weight is your main goal, try thinking about what you eat as well.   You don’t need to go on a diet – we all know they don’t work – but you can still think about moderating your worst excesses.   We all have them.   Mine are glasses of wine in the evening (120 calories each!) and a cappuccino when I’m out shopping (100 calories a go!), not to mention the cake!   Incidentally, I know a place (a famous supermarket coffee shop) where you can have a toasted teacake with over 600 calories in it – and that’s before you add any butter or spread!   You don’t need to be too harsh – just think about what you can do without which is bad for you (you know what it is!), and try not to have one every time you go out.
  4. Make sure you drink enough water.   Running can really make you dehydrated.   You only feel thirsty when you are already dehydrated (i.e. it’s already too late).  Make sure that you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration – after all there are no calories in it and it really helps your body to get rid of toxins and keep you healthy.   In an ideal world we’d all drink only water – but I’m not giving up my occasional glass of wine, even if you are!
  5. Don’t try to run before you can walk!  The biggest problem new runners face is getting a niggley injury virtually as soon as they start.   It’s not surprising really.   Maybe you haven’t exercised since you left school (that was me!).  Trying to run a mile in 4 minutes first time out of the house will probably result in a hasty visit to hospital!   It makes much more sense to start out with what you can do – walking, or maybe (but probably not) jogging for a few minutes.   And slowly build up.   I understand the frustration.   And once you’ve decided to start losing weight by running, you expect to lose 20 pounds a week and be able to run like Usain Bolt.   However, you will make much quicker progress towards your goal if you start steady, exercise regularly, and slowly build up.
  6. Lastly, and most importantly, remember it’s meant to be fun.   Don’t go out for a run or a walk thinking that you’ve got to do this horrible punishment for all the bad things that you’ve eaten.   That will make it feel like HARD LABOUR, which no one wants.   Instead go out and relax.   You’ve got some YOU time.   You can just think about the things that YOU want, without any hassle from anyone else.   Enjoy looking at the scenery.   Watch how the trees are changing as the seasons change.   See how many different bird species you can spot in your 30 minutes.   Just enjoy it.   Then you’ll be home and ready for a nice refreshing shower before you even realise that you’ve been exercising.

Running to lose weight really is a great choice.   If you start gently, build up and make sure you enjoy it, it will soon become a great new healthy way of life.

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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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