Running for Weight Loss

More and more Americans are picking up running for weight loss, and for good reason. It’s cheap, simple and convenient, and best of all, we know it actually works. So if you’re tired of hacking it at the local gym, go back to basics and go running instead.

Running is one of the oldest and most effective ways to lose weight. Home gyms and spas may be the in thing, but they’re really no match for the fresh air and natural exercise you get from running. It’s easy, you can do it anywhere, and it doesn’t require anything but a pair of feet. Best of all, it’s free—why pay expensive membership fees for a high-and-dry gym when you can sweat it out the natural way and still get the same (or even more) health benefits? If your old routine isn’t working for you, put on those running shoes and hit the trails. Here are some useful tips to help you get started.

Start by eating right.

Running ten miles a day won’t do much if you keep eating high-calorie foods to compensate. A lot of runners do that—they have a good afternoon run and reward themselves with a beer or a loaded candy bar afterwards. While the occasional treat won’t hurt you, making it a habit will make all that exercise account for nothing. Stick to a healthy diet with lots of fiber, fruit, and protein, and as little sugar and fat as possible.

Be consistent.

Running only works if it’s regular and consistent. Several short runs over the week are better than a two-hour run every weekend. It ‘s best if you can run every day, but if you don’t have time, try going for at least three to four days. It helps to stick to a schedule, but remember to keep it consistent—set regular intervals between your running days. If you miss a day, run the next day and adjust your schedule accordingly, instead of waiting for your next scheduled run.

Alternate between speeds.

Interval training involves alternating between slow, leisurely runs and aggressive sprints. This keeps your body from getting used to a certain level of exertion, which can cause your weight loss to slow or hit a plateau. Every time you speed up or slow down, your body burns extra calories as it tries to adapt to the new speed. By keeping your body guessing, you can lose weight at the same rate throughout your program.

Stay hydrated.

Never go on a run without drinking a glass of water before, during and after. Bring a bottle with you all the time, so you can take a drink whenever you feel like it. Don’t hesitate to stop or slow down for a drink—it won’t affect your routine and you’ll be able to relax for a few seconds. Avoid fancy drinks like soda and juice. Sports drinks are fine, but water is still your best choice.

Be patient.

Running is efficient, but don’t expect magic. Like any form of exercise, running takes time and consistency to produce visible results. Monitor your progress, but don’t stress out when nothing happens after the first week, or even the first month. Exercising harder won’t speed things up either—it’ll only make you feel more tired and shorten your endurance for future runs. Just stay on your program; when you lose the first pound, the rest will follow in no time.

Turn off the music.

While there’s nothing wrong with listening to music to keep you motivated, it can keep you from feeling and enjoying the exercise. Once in a while, take off those earphones and just listen to the thump of your feet against the pavement. Try to feel the exercise as much as you can—the way your arms swing on your sides, how your weight shifts from heel to toe, how your heart rate speeds up. This will help you better channel your energies and make it feel more like a workout.

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