Running is often referred to as either a cardio or an aerobic exercise. Cardio exercises are the best types of exercise to lose weight as they burn the most calories as the increase in your body’s oxygen consumption helps to burn energy. Energy is provided by fat, carbohydrates and protein. There are other advantages to aerobic training one of them being that it strengthens your heart.

If you are running to lose weight then remember that you will need to be consistent with your training, this will mean going running 5 days a week, you wont be able to just run for one week and expect to lose all the weight, it will take time. You should be aiming to lose 1-2lb a week, it is a safe and achievable amount if you stick to your routine. You need to look at your diet as well though as exercise is only one part of the equation when it comes to losing weight. Your diet is the other part. In order to lose weight you need to create a deficit of 500 calories per day. If you just cut this amount of calories out then you cause your body to do the opposite of what you want, it will go into starvation mode and will keep hold of everything you put in to it, so you need to look at having a healthy balanced diet and then use your running to burn off the calories.

The running:

There are several ways you can run to lose weight:

  • Run at a constant pace for a set amount of time
  • Interval training – where you do bursts of higher intensity

Both of these will be discussed in more depth further down the page.

To get the best results out of your running you need to work in your optimum training zone. We can do this by using your heart rate. To find your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) you do the following:

220 – your age = your MHR

Once you have your MHR you can then work out what your heart rate you should be when exercising, you should be looking to exercise at between 70-85% of your MHR.

MHR x % intensity = target heart rate.

Running at a constant pace

This is self explanatory, you will run at the same pace for approx 40-60mins per running session. The duration you run for will depend on your current fitness level, if you are just beginning to exercise then start out at 20mins and then you can increase your time as you become fitter, this could be done by increasing your time by 1 min each time you exercise until you are able to jog/ run for 45-60mins in total. You should be working at approx 60% of your MHR if you are just starting to exercise and then as your fitness increases you can increase the % until you are exercising between 70-85% of your MHR. Exercise 3-5 times per week.

Interval Training

Interval training is where there are bursts of high intensity work between reduced intensity work. For example:

8-10min warm up – low intensity 1min moderate intensity 1min high intensity 1 min moderate intensity 1 min high intensity etc continuing for the desired time of the work out. 10 min cool down

The ratios can be changed so you could do 1min reduced 30 second high intensity etc. When talking high intensity you would be looking at exercising at 85% of your MHR.

If you do not use a heart rate monitor

Knowing the intensity to work out when you don’t use a heart rate monitor. You do not need to use a heart rate monitor to know when you are working out at different intensities, you will be able to feel it. If you can have a conversation with someone easily and breathing normally then you are working at a low intensity, high intensity would be when you are working as hard as you can this will feel between a hard and very hard pace. So moderate intesity is in between low and high intensity, you will be finding the pace somewhat hard but you feel ok and can keep going at the same pace.  Once you start jogging and running you will find it easy to tell what you feel is moderate intensity and high intesnsity.

Your Heart

If you have any heart issues please get advice from your Doctor first before starting any kind of exercise programme.

If you are taking heart medication you will not be able to rely on using a heart rate monitor when exercising as the medication will affect how your heart rate works so speak with your Doctors first before starting an exercise programme.

Too much running

Remember to take rest days each week as your body needs to recover. There is another issue that isn’t often discussed and that is if you only do cardio exercise and no resistance training then you are at risk of not only burning off fat but also losing lean muscle. If you lose lean muscle your metabolism slows down. Depending on how you want to look physically there is also a chance you will look slim but have very little muscle tone so all your hard work will have made you lose weight but you wont have a firm toned body. To prevent this happening you should include resistance training in your exercise programme.

Resistance training will even help you lose weight, this is because the more muscle you have the better your body burns calories, more muscle increases your metabolism so you will be burning calories when you are not working out. You will also be firming and toning your muscles up which will make you look great.

Don’t worry about “bulking up” by doing resistance training, this is very hard for women to actually do due to having only a small amount of testosterone. It takes guys quite a bit of time to get bigger muscles and they have a much higher amount of testosterone so don’t think you will lift a few weights and suddenly look big and muscley because it just won‘t happen.

Don’t be afraid of using heavy weights either, if you are doing 3 sets of 12 reps then the weight you choose needs to be heavy enough that you can only do 12 reps and no more without losing form, if you can do more reps then use a heavier weight.

Don’t use the scales as a judge of how much weight you have lost because by doing resistance training and increasing your muscle mass you may not see much difference. This is because muscle is more dense than fat and so when you gain muscle it will take up less room than fat but would end up weighing more

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  • Jade

    This was sooo helpful, thank you so much!

  • Karmen Bell

    does it matter if you run inside or out? I run inside in the same spot for 10minutes and then a water break then another 10minutes, water break and the last 10minutes. it shouldn’t matter right?

    • Running outside vs running on a treadmill vs running in the same spot all have differences. Running outside, in my experience, is harder (yet more enjoyable, inclement weather excluded) than running indoors.

      The important thing is to keep up the intensity, so if you’re getting a good level of intensity then you’re good to go. Having said that though, you can probably get a higher level of intensity if you were running on a treadmill or outdoors.

  • Berri Kammler

    I’ve been overweight all my life and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 24 pounds in one month without exercise and it’s been a life changer. I’m a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I’ve been doing then I’d be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at oceanflowers82@gmail.com and I’ll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I’ve tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day

  • JessM

    This was an informative, useful little write up on running! I’m glad it touched on strength training a bit as well. Personally, I’ve had more success with my weight loss while using strength training moreso than anything else. Of course, you should stick with what works best for you. All that really matters is that you approach your weight loss as a combination of habits that promote a healthy lifestyle. That’s what separates a good weight loss strategy from those destined to fail. In fact, the following article does a good job describing the key factors in an effective, long-term weight loss strategy: fatfreeme(DOT)net/big5

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