Running for Weight Loss
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Running for Weight Loss

Running is thought to have a selection of benefits for general health; it is a very popular form of exercise that can help people on their weight loss journey.

Running is a very popular type of exercise that is undertaken regularly by millions of people and can prove to be very beneficial for weight loss. The exercise is amongst the simplest forms of exercise and can be tried by anybody that owns a pair of trainers. There are a lot of different ways that running can be altered to make sure that the individual achieves their personal aims. Here we will discuss how running can be beneficial for health and how best to alter your running regime for weight loss.

What are the Benefits of Running?

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Besides weight loss, running regularly has been associated with a great range of different health benefits. Running has been said to have a variety of psychological benefits and might help to improve mood, potentially acting as an anti-depressant and helping with the treatment of anxiety. Running might also help to improve the strength of joints, particularly the knees and hips.

Moreover, running has been claimed to reduce the risk of a selection of diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. It has even been said to improve cognitive performance and defer mental decline that is associated with ageing.

In comparison to other popular exercises, running is often considered to be a flexible option that helps to work out the whole body and boost all-round fitness. As discussed in further detail below, running can be tailored to your fitness goals; you can run to burn fat, improve aerobic performance, or to increase muscle strength.

Running is a cheap option; once you have invested in a pair of good trainers and some shorts, running in parks or on the roads is completely free and you have no commitments. There is no need to pay out for a gym or club membership, although some people will prefer to run on a treadmill and others will find it beneficial to run on a track or join a running group – these are personal preferences that should be taken into consideration by each individual.

Different Types of Running

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Running is a very general term that encompasses a number of different types of running exercise. Some people will commit to just one of these, whilst others will switch between the different types of running. Perhaps the most common type of running is that of long-distance jogging around parks or along pavements. Many people who are thinking about getting into running begin in this way; it is completely free of charge and the runner is not committed – it is a good way to see whether or not you might enjoy running. Those who are interested in running marathons or undergoing aerobic training will spend most of their training time running along their local streets or cycle paths.

Others prefer to run on a treadmill in the gym. This is a more pricey option, but one that is comfortable and sheltered from the elements! Treadmills have the benefit of being able to change the intensity of your run and make it easy to monitor your speed, distance and heart rate. Once you have signed up to the gym, you can of course also take advantage of the other exercise machines at your disposal. Some people do however find treadmill running to be too ‘samey’, preferring the changing scenery of a park run.

Track running is another form. Athletic tracks are designed specifically for running and are used most widely by competitive athletes. Runners can use tracks for long-distance or sprint training alike, depending on their individual goals.

No matter where you are running, there are a number of different types of training that you can undertake. These include continuous and interval (anaerobic or aerobic) training. Continuous training is generally long-distance running at a low intensity. Interval training involves the alternation of running at a high intensity for a short period of time and a period of rest. Interval training can be divided into anaerobic or aerobic training – you could do, for example, three or four minutes of fast running followed by one minute of walking, repeated several times; this would be aerobic. If you wanted to train anaerobically, you could perform 30-second sprints followed by 30 seconds of walking.

Running for Fat Burning

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So what is the best way to run if you are looking to burn fat? Several studies have been performed in an attempt to determine at what level of intensity the most fat is burnt for energy. One study used 36 runners to identify the zones of exercise that are best for fat burning. The subjects underwent a maximal exercise test on a treadmill. The results indicated that maximal fat burning was achieved between 60.2% and 80% of maximal heart rate, though there was notable variability between individuals.

Running sprint interval training has been shown to be effective for fat loss. A study published in 2014 tested whether or not running sprint interval training could change body composition using 15 female subjects. The participants trained three times a week over a period of six weeks. The results showed that sprint interval training could reduce body fay by 8% and waist circumference by 3.5% in females, leading the authors to conclude that this form of exercise is likely to be beneficial for fat loss in healthy young women.

Another study compared the effects of sprint interval training and endurance training on body composition. Twenty male and female subjects took part in the trial, which involved training three times a week for six weeks with sprint interval training or endurance training. Fat mass was seen to be reduced by 12.4% with the interval training and 5.8% with the endurance training, whilst lean mass increase was the same for both groups, suggesting that both of these forms of exercise are beneficial for body composition and performance.

High-intensity intermittent training has also been shown to aid weight loss, with studies suggesting that it can have a greater effect on the reduction of subcutaneous and abdominal fat stores than other forms of exercise. High-intensity intermittent training is thought to improve body composition, insulin resistance, and fitness, potentially making it a beneficial treatment for obesity.

Tips and Tricks to Improve your Running Regime

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Once you have started to run on a regular basis, there are certain ways that you can improve your running regime to ensure that it helps you to lose the optimal amount of weight. It is important that you stay motivated and have a set routine for your runs, keeping them regular. Certain technologies have been designed to help runners to keep track of their runs – including aspects such as when they went, how far they went, and how many calories they burnt. There are a great many fitness apps to choose from on smart phones and many people now use fitness watches, which can be very advanced, with the potential to track the heart rate and set a running pace, amongst other handy features.

If you are trying to lose weight, it is important that you follow a healthy diet as well as running. You need to ensure that you are getting plenty of nutrition through your diet to keep you going through your runs; protein is a particularly useful macronutrient for improving body composition. Many people also fall in to the trap of binging after going for a run – try to avoid this as it could severely hinder your weight loss efforts. Undertaking a healthy, calorie-controlled diet will speed up weight loss significantly.

Some people also choose to use supplements to help with their weight loss and running performance. These might be weight loss supplements or athletic performance supplements. For more information on which weight loss supplement might be best for you, see our guide. In terms of athletic performance supplements, many runners choose to consume protein in supplement form (shakes or bars) to boost their protein intake and improve muscle gain and repair. Read our article on the best protein shakes for runners here.

Negative Effects of Running

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Running can undoubtedly be very beneficial for health and for weight loss. The exercise is easy to modify and shape to fit your particular goals and can be undertaken in a range of different environments. If it is done sensibly and in moderation, running can have excellent benefits for your lungs, heart, muscles, and even for the brain. There are however some problems that people should be cautious of when it comes to running.

Perhaps the most common complaint associated with running is that of injury, particularly to the joints. Running on hard surfaces (such as roads and pavements) can put lots of pressure on the joints, causing problems such as knee pain. Runners also regularly suffer from shin splints (muscular pain around the shin area), plantar fasciitis (ligament pain felt in the sole or heel of the foot), or Achilles tendinitis (a pain associated with the tendon in the ankle). These problems are not generally severe, but can be recurring and might prevent an individual for running for some time.

Another issue to point out is that it is important to choose the right kind of running for your goals. If you are looking to bulk up and spend lots of time in the gym for example, training to run a marathon might not be suitable for you – it could prevent your muscle gain due to changes in hormone levels.

Conclusion

Running is a very popular form of exercise and one that can be tailored to suit most individuals. Scientific studies have linked running with improvements in a variety of aspects of health, including mood, cognition, and disease prevention. The most effective method of running for weight loss specifically appears to be sprint interval training (or high-intensity intermittent training), which involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by short breaks. Running is suitable for most people in moderation; it should be noted that there are a selection of injuries that are commonly associated with the exercise, though these are not generally severe.

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