Run to lose (weight)

March 24th 2020

People get into running for countless reasons. For some, it’s about crossing the marathon off their bucket list. For others, running on a regular basis is about scoring awesome bling at races. Some seek out running for the calming, meditative effect it can have.

But, there’s arguably one reason above all others that motivates people to run on a regular basis. That would be weight management/loss.

Running is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient ways to burn calories and lose weight. Read on for a few of the reasons why we think running is the best way to lose (weight).

Is running easy?

There are countless ways to burn calories. You can join a gym.  You can ride a bike. You can join a boutique fitness studio like Barry’s Bootcamp or SoulCycle.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these options. But, all of them present certain barriers to entry that running doesn’t. Most gyms aren’t open 24 hours. Even if they are, there’s still usually a steep, monthly membership fee.

Bikes are great, but they’re typically not cheap. Additionally, there’s the potential for flat tires and other equipment failure.

The boutique fitness studios are great, but classes are usually quite expensive ($20-$30 for a single class). To boot, classes typically have to be booked in advance. This means there’s no guarantee you’re getting in.

Running can be done anywhere. It can be done anytime. It can be done several times a day (if you’re really ambitious). Generally speaking, all you need is a pair of shoes (and the SportMe Run Trainer app) and you’re good to go!

I’m not saying the actual ‘act’ of running is easy. It can be challenging. But, it’s relatively easy to get into a regular running routine as running presents very few barriers to entry.

Is running one of the most efficient ways of burning calories?

Running a mile burns roughly 100 calories. This may not sound like a lot (and it isn’t). But, if you manage a couple miles just three times a week, you’re looking at 600 calories/week. This comes to 2,400 calories a month you’re burning just by running two miles a day, three times a week. 

Few forms of exercise burn as many calories as efficiently as running does. A person weighing 160 lbs. will burn 606 calories running for an hour at 12:00/mile.

The only form of exercise that will burn more calories is jumping rope for an hour (861 calories). If you think running on a treadmill is tedious, try jumping rope for an hour.

BTW, if you run 7:30/mile for an hour, your caloric burn equals that of jumping rope for an hour.

Do you continue to burn calories after your run is completed?

The demands of running are non-trivial. You’re generating anywhere from 3-5 times your bodyweight in impact force per footsrike. It takes a lot for your body to support an activity this intense for a few minutes, let alone miles.

You burn plenty of calories while you’re logging your miles. But, the burning of calories doesn’t end once you’ve completed your run. Following a typical run, your resting energy expenditure tends to stay elevated. This only makes sense given the demands running places on your body.

When is the last time you were fatigued, sore, and out of breath after walking two miles? Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against walking.

But, running demands more of you. Consequently, your body has more work to do afterwards to recover, heal, and adapt.

Does running provide a sense of accomplishment and boosts your mood?

One of the greatest things about being a new runner is the opportunity to set ‘personal bests’ all the time. It’s likely that almost every run you tackle is the farthest you’ve ever run. Consequently, there’s a huge sense of accomplishment upon completing every run.

Independent of the sense of accomplishment associated with notching a personal best every time you hit the road, there’s a wonderful chemical cocktail released every time you run. This cocktail includes serotonin and norepinephrine (among others). These chemicals help improve your mood and may even lead to the famed ‘runner’s high’.

If running provides a sense of accomplishment and helps keep you in good spirits, it’s likely you’ll be coming back for more. The more you run, the more you accomplish, the better you feel, and the more calories you’ll burn.

As far as vicious cycles go, running is about as good as it gets.