Physical activity, otherwise known as exercise, is a great way to start your journey to fat loss and weight loss. Running to lose weight has become the passion of many people, as it requires no equipment (other than maybe a good pair of running shoes) and you can fit it into your lifestyle whenever and however you want.
As with all exercise, it’s best to consult with a qualified medical practitioner before launching yourself in to a marathon – but let’s look at the benefits, and how you can keep track of your progress.
As we know, moving around is the key to getting your body in tip-top condition. Running (or even walking for that matter) has the advantage that it easily uses your own bodyweight against itself. If a 300lb man runs a mile, he uses more energy than a 150lb man running that same mile, as he has to move twice as much weight the same distance. There’s a little more science to it than that, but the basic premise remains that the more weight you move, the more calories you burn.
“But it’s not all about calories!” – too right. When you are running, you start breathing harder, and your heart starts pumping harder. You wear down the muscles in your legs, and up through your back and stomach – it’s not just the leg muscles that cause you to move. In fact, you get quite close to a full body workout when you go for a run!
As the muscles are used (including the heart), the fibers within the muscles break down and are rebuilt over the next 24 to 48 hours. They are rebuilt stronger than before, which is part of the increase in your fitness levels. Your lungs get used to working at a higher capacity, and before you know it you are stronger, faster, fitter, and healthier than before.
With the right diet incorporated as well, you will find that running to lose weight actually works. The body requires energy to move, and to rebuild the muscles. Where can it get this energy? From the food you eat, and from the fat stores located within your body.
Ever seen a fat marathon winner? There’s probably a reason for that.
Don’t expect drastic results. If you go running one day, don’t expect to have lost 10lbs by the following day, because it doesn’t work like that. You are in this for the long haul, and incorporating running as part of your routine will help you achieve your goals.
A Little Treadmill Action
So much for requiring no equipment! Depending on where you live, you might not want to go outdoors to run. You might have your own treadmill, or have access to one at a gym. Treadmills are fine, but not as much fun as going outdoors and seeing the world around you. For some, the compulsion to carry on is only evident when they are out in the natural world – essentially, you are going on a site-seeing run. Dragging yourself to the gym to look at the same four walls doesn’t have quite the same appeal, but each to his own – as long as you are moving and working towards your goals, keep going!
Keeping track of your progress
If you are running to lose weight, it makes sense that one of the things you would track is your weight – simple enough! But what might make it more interesting is to track your performance over time.
I use an app called RunKeeper. It runs on iPhones and Androids alike, and uses GPS to track your location. You simply tell it when you are starting, and tell it when you are finishing, and it tracks you the whole time. It can tell you how far uphill you have gone, your total distance, how fast you covered a mile, and show you a map of your exact route. It also lets you know when you have broken your own personal best records – most distance covered in a day or week, biggest hill climbed, and so on.
If you are just starting out, it’s not a necessity, but it certainly keeps you motivated – who wouldn’t want to race against their old self and beat them?
But there again, if you are just starting, you might be better looking at C25K – that’s “Couch to 5K“. It’s a simple training system to get you from being a complete couch potato (not moving at all) to being able to run a 5K race in just a few weeks. It’s very effective, and has users from all over the world – and by using RunKeeper, you could even race a 5K against yourself!
There are many options for exercise and fitness when you are trying to drop fat, but running to lose weight is one of the simplest ways to get fit, get healthy, and maybe have a bit of fun too.
Remember though, exercise is not an excuse for excess – just because you “burned off 500 calories on that run” it doesn’t mean you can eat a 500 calorie pizza as a reward, as it literally becomes a pointless exercise to go running.
So get out there and start running. I’ll see you at the finish line…I’ll be sat on a bench waiting for you….