Running for Weight Loss: Tips for Getting Started Safely
Running is a great exercise to help with weight loss, simply because it helps you burn a lot of calories, and the more calories you burn, the more of a calorie deficit you create. However, running is a pretty intense exercise that isn’t for everyone.
If you are very overweight or out of shape, if you have joint problems, back problems, or respiratory problems, running probably isn’t the best choice for you and you may feel more comfortable with a low-impact exercise like walking, swimming or bicycling.
If you think you are strong enough to begin a running program, first be sure to check with your doctor and get the go-ahead from him or her (you could have medical issues that you’re not even aware of).
Once you get the okay from your doctor, you should decide whether you want to jump right in and start running, or if you should start slowly by first walking a certain distance each day. For most beginners, walking is a good idea because it will help build up some endurance, both muscularly and cardiovascularly.
When you are able to walk briskly for a mile without any trouble, you’re ready to start jogging slowly at intervals. Start by walking briskly for 5 minutes, then break into a slow jog for 5 minutes (or as long as you can). Then go back to walking briskly. Keep repeating this for a week or two, until your jogging sessions don’t feel extremely difficult any more.
Then you should be ready to start running at a faster pace, and perhaps for a longer period of time. It’s a good idea to always start out your running workouts with a brisk walk to allow your muscles to warm up and avoid running injuries. Then simply keep increasing your speed and distance until you are comfortably able to run for a mile, 2 miles, 3 miles, and so on.
Since you want to use running to promote weight loss, it will be important to keep pushing yourself to work a bit harder each time so that your body doesn’t get used to the speed and intensity and slow weight loss. The ideal is to always be pushing yourself just a bit harder each time you work out, but not so hard that you hurt yourself. Try to strike a balance between being cautious while still striving to do more each time.
For the first several times you try running, be sure to pay attention to any sharp pains or cramps - those are signs that you’re overdoing it and you need to slow down a bit. Over time your endurance should increase and you’ll be able to work out harder, longer.
Finally, keep in mind that running is a high intensity exercise, so you need to be sure you are eating properly to give your body the fuel it needs. Simple carbohydrates like pasta, bagels and rice are good to eat before a running workout, as well as low-fiber fruit like pears, peaches, cherries and grapefruit.