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Running Is A Simple Weight Loss And Fitness

Updated on December 18, 2012

A Guide to Running for Weight Loss

As we get older and our activity level decreases, and as we get busier and eat out more often than preparing home-cooked healthy meals, the weight begins to pile on. To you, it may seem that it just suddenly appeared, but it took some time to put on the weight, and it will take some time to take it off.

The first step is deciding to remove yourself from the comforts of your couch after long days at work or taking care of the household, and making a big lifestyle change with exercise. Even if you don’t change your eating habits, adding exercise to your life will give you great weight loss benefits.

One of the best exercises for losing weight is running. Running at a slowest pace for at least 30 minutes can have you burning approximately 290 calories. Ready to get started?

Running Shoes

The very first thing you need to do to start your running program to lose weight is to buy proper shoes. If you use shoes that are designed for other sports, such as walking or cross-training, your feet and shins will ache, causing you to probably become injured.

When you have the right training material to begin a weight loss program, you will be more likely to stick to your plan. As running is mostly done on pavement, it is even more important to have comfortable and supportive running shoes.

Running for Time or Distance

Many would think that the further you run the more calories you burn, so the slimmer you get. This is not always the case.

With a focus on weight loss, it's best to concentrate on the time of the exercise. A run lasting 20-45 minutes is recommended for those looking to lose weight. The key here is burning fat and not muscle. The longer distance you run, you will eventually end up using muscle to fuel your running. So here, less is better.

How Often to Run

You don’t need to run every day to lose weight. At a minimum, aim at running three times per week. This gives you the flexibility to design your running program around your busy schedule. If you can get more in during the week, that is even better, but not necessary.

Remember, the most important part of losing weight is that you are moving. Yes, what you eat plays a role as well in your weight loss goals, but dedicating time to running keeps you active and is also good for your overall health.

More is not necessarily better. Our bodies need time to recuperate after running, and if you run more than five times a week, you will not be giving your body a chance to repair itself for the next running session. This can only lead to injury, which will hurt your running routine.

Woman running

Should You Eat Before Running?

Should You Eat Before Running?

Running is the kind of exercise that anyone can enjoy. Whether you want to save money on a gym membership, you want to get outdoors more often, or you just like the idea of the freedom that running brings, it's an excellent way to get fit. But if you're new to running, it's important to know whether to eat before you set off on that run.

Do You Run in the Morning or Evening?

The time of your run plays a major role in deciding whether you should eat. Usually, it is recommended to eat before a run if you run in the morning, as you would not have had a meal for around 8 to 10 hours before the run, and this could result in low blood sugar levels and low energy. Be sure to only eat a light snack (such as fruits, a slice of toast, etc) and allow around half an hour to an hour for your food to digest before running.

If you run in the evenings, it may not be necessary to eat, as you would have had lunch only several hours before. If you feel hungry though, having a light snack is okay.

Do You Go for Long or Short Runs?

If your daily run usually lasts for more than half an hour, it would probably be a good idea to have something light an hour or so before you head out for your run. Prolonged running will sap away your energy reserves, so you would be wise to get some energy before you run. If you are only going on a short run, food may not be necessary.

Are Your Runs Intense?

Intense runs that focus on speed or tempo would be best done on an empty stomach, as that much strain on your body will redirect flow to your working muscles, and result in indigestion due to the limited blood flow to the stomach. If you're going to run for a race, then definitely avoid food for several hours before the race.

As you've already read, it's important to decide whether to eat or not depending on your individual running habits. If you do eat, keep your meal light and easy to digest. Some items you may want to avoid before going for a run include dairy, pasta, red meat, and potatoes. Instead, try to eat easily digestible foods like a small portion of oatmeal, a protein shake, toast, or best of all, fruits with high content of carbohydrates like bananas, oranges, peaches, and berries.

Running for Weight LossVideo

How to Warm Up and Cool Down Before A Run

Although you may be mentally ready to go for your much anticipated run, whether it is to relax and unwind, or is part of your exercise routine, a proper warm-up and cool down before you begin your run is important.

The warming-up and cooling down will allow your body to slowly adjust to the exercise and slowly return to a normal state of rest. It is also a great way to prevent injury and health effects.

Stretching Legs and Arms

Either before or after lacing up your running shoes, start your pre-run warm-up with hamstring (back of thighs), quadricep (front of thighs), and calf muscle (behind shins) warm-ups. For the hamstrings, slowly and gently fold forward at your hips aiming to your toes with your arms. If you touch your toes, that’s great, if not, just go to the point where you feel a nice stretch. The stretch should not hurt. Hold for a count of ten.

Next, stretch your quadriceps by either placing your right hand on to a nearby wall or balancing with your right hand extended. Bend the knee of your left leg and grab your foot behind you with your left hand. Hold this stretch for a count of 10, release, and repeat on the other side.

Face a wall about three to four feet away. Place your hands on the walls and if you are still too close to the wall, walk your legs out until you feel a nice stretch in your calves, with your back flat. Slowly alternate stretching your calves by bending one knee and stretching on foot all the way to the ground, and repeat on the other side. You can do for a full round of 10.

Performing some simple stretches of your shoulders and triceps will aid in warming up your entire body, and your upper body can sometimes tend to become stiff while running, especially if it is a long run. Raise one arm directly above your head and bend your elbow until it is next to your ear. Slowly push your elbow until you feel a stretch. Repeat on the other side.

Warm up your shoulders by making large and small circles forward and back with your arms straight out to the sides. Ensure that you circle clock-wise and counter-clockwise for balance.

Starting Your Run

Start your run with a warm-up walk at a moderate pace – not too fast and not too slow. Walk for approximately two minutes at this pace. This allows a nice slow warm-up of all the muscles in your body, especially your legs.

Then begin a slow jog for approximately three minutes. This accelerates the warm-up and starts to encourage the blood and oxygen to flow throughout your body. The walk and jog will give you a nice five minute warm-up before beginning your normal running pace.

Cool Down

Slowly decrease your running pace to a moderate jog for three minutes, before coming to a gentle-paced walk. This will allow your body to naturally slow down and decrease its heart rate without shocking your body from intensity to no intensity in a second.

Your body needs a chance to return to its normal heart rate and cool down slowly. You can also end with the warm-up stretches you did in the beginning. This can prevent dizziness, fainting, and problems for those who already may have a heart condition.

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