Running for Weight Loss – The Good, the Bad and the Solutions

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Running is one of the first forms of exercise that people turn towards in an effort to lose weight. Moreover, if you’re reading this blog then there’s a good chance that you’re thinking of doing exactly the same thing. Before you do though, let me give the pros as well as the cons of running for weight loss, as well as some tips for losing weight without picking up any injuries along the way.

The Pro’s
#1 Cheap

One of the main pros of running is that its one of the cheapest activities you can do. Don’t be conned into thinking you need all the coolest high tech equipment. For most runners, all you really need is a good pair of running shoes and you’re ready to go.

Running Man On The Street 1

#2 Simple

Running is also a pretty simple activity. In essence, you just place one foot in front of another and keep on doing so until you’re tired.

#3 Fun

All types of running can be loads of fun, especially when you run outdoors rather than in a gym. You’ll get to enjoy the fresh air and see plenty of new places each week.

Running Warmup

#4 Social

Although lots of runners choose to go it alone, there are also lots of others who choose to join local running clubs and events. This can help to keep you motivated and push you to work that little bit harder. Plus if the weather is bad it’s much easier to get out of the house if you know you’ve got a group of friends waiting for you.

The Con’s
#1 Injuries

Perhaps the biggest drawback of running for weight loss is the fairly high occurrence of injuries in runners. If you’re only just getting into fitness then there’s a good chance you don’t have much leg strength. This means your legs won’t be great at absorbing force from the floor. If your leg muscles aren’t great at absorbing force then your knees and hips will take more of the impact, which could lead to injury over time.

Similarly, many of us looking to lose a bit of weight tend to have fairly inactive lifestyles which involve a lot of sitting down either at home or at work. This can lead to tight hips, rounded upper body, and general postural issues. This can make you more likely to pick up injuries when running. 

#2 Not optimal for physique

Running is absolutely a great way to burn calories. Using these extra calories will help you to lose weight (assuming your nutrition is being looked after as well!)  But what running can’t do is help you to achieve a ‘toned’ or ‘athletic’ physique. To do this you’ll need to incorporate exercises that challenge your muscles to grow.

Winter Run

#3 Adaptation

As you do more running your body gets more efficient at it, which makes you a better runner. The drawback from a weight loss perspective is that a more efficient body uses less energy and thus burns less calories, which could make it harder for you to lose weight even if you’re running the exact same distances that you used to.

So what are the solutions?

Luckily, since many of the problems associated with running for weight loss are interlinked, the solutions are also interlinked. This means you only need to do two simple things to keep yourself happy, healthy, injury-free and on the road to some awesome weight loss.

1) Start a simple program of resistance training

Resistance training using dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells is a great way to compliment your running. The extra strength you’ll build, especially in your legs, will help your body to absorb force from the ground and prevent injuries. I recommend one or two full body workouts per week using exercises like goblet squats, deadlifts, chest presses and barbell rows to strengthen your muscles. Not only will this type of training help to prevent injuries, it will also help you to develop your muscles a bit, helping to give you a ‘toned’ and ‘athletic’ look. Plus, as if all that wasn’t enough, this new type of exercise will help you to burn more calories by giving your body different kinds of stresses to adapt to other than running.

#2 Begin a basic routine of stretching

Regular stretching is a great way to improve your posture, which can help you run better and reduce the likelihood of injuries. It’s also a great way to relax and unwind at the end of a busy or stressful day.

Running Warmup

I recommend spending ten to twenty minutes (ideally ever day but any amount is better than nothing) to perform a full body stretching routine. Pay special attention to your hips, quadriceps (front of upper leg) and calves, as all of these can get very tight as a runner. You could also try various yoga-based workouts to give some structure and guidance to your stretching. I’m a big fan of Yoga with Adriene, who provides a huge variety of yoga videos catering for all levels of ability and time-frame. You can find her here.

And that’s it, I hope you’ve found my article useful and I wish you the best of luck in your running and weight loss journey. Just remember to include a mixture of strength training and flexibility training alongside your running to keep you happy, healthy and injury free.

Good luck! ?

And if you have any tips or stories about your own weight loss journey, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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