A person running/jogging in the morning

Breaking the Myth: Why Running May Not Be the Best Route for Weight Loss

Running is often touted as the go-to exercise for weight loss. It seems like a no-brainer, right? Burn calories, shed pounds. But before you lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement, it's essential to understand that running is not a one-size-fits-all solution for weight loss.

Firstly, running can be incredibly hard on the body, especially for those who are overweight or have joint problems. The constant pounding of the pavement can lead to injuries, ultimately derailing any weight loss progress.

Additionally, many people who turn to running as a way to lose weight often make the mistake of solely focusing on the number on the scale. They fail to realize that weight loss is not just about a number but about improving overall well-being and mental health. Exercise should be enjoyed, not just used as a means to an end.

Moreover, running can lead to burnout and loss of motivation. If you're not a natural runner, starting a running program can be challenging and can lead to feelings of frustration and failure. This, in turn, can cause you to lose motivation and abandon your weight loss efforts altogether.

Instead of relying on running as the only way to lose weight, it's crucial to find an exercise routine that is enjoyable, sustainable, and works for you. Strength training is an excellent option as it not only helps with weight loss but also increases muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism. Other low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and yoga can also be effective ways to lose weight while improving overall health and well-being.

Here are the three key reasons why running as a weight loss strategy may not be the best option.

  1. Jogging is the exercise that poses the highest risk of injury

Jogging is a popular form of exercise, but did you know that up to 70% of runners sustain overuse injuries in a year? That's a frightening statistic, and it begs the question: why are so many runners getting injured? The answer lies in how well-prepared their bodies are for running.

When people get into running, they often jump in at an intensity that far exceeds their capabilities. They're simply not ready for the physical demands of running. Every step taken while running severely impacts the body, and the problem is not running itself but landing hard with each physical step. Every time your foot hits the ground, you create a force of 1.5–3.5 times your body weight, and when sprinting, that force increases to a staggering 5.5 times your body weight. That's a whole lot of force for your body to absorb.

Think of your body like a car. If you were taking a road trip from one state to another in a 20-year-old car with zero maintenance history, rust in every part, and billowing out black smoke every time you change gear, what are the chances of making it across the state without breaking down? I would suggest pretty darn high. That's essentially what most people over thirty are doing to their bodies when they take up running in their later years of life. They're taking a clapped-out automobile of a body out on the road and hoping it holds together long enough to get the desired result. It's a car crash waiting to happen.

So how can you determine if your body is ready to run to lose weight? The waist-to-height ratio test provides accurate information on whether the body is prepared and able to withstand the weight and pressures experienced when running. You may calculate your waist-height ratio by dividing your waist size by your height. You're probably not in danger of an obesity-related condition if your waist measurement is less than half your height.

The heavier you are, the more force your body has to withstand or absorb. And the more force your body absorbs over a prolonged period, the greater the risk of long-term injury and wear and tear on the body. If your waist/height ratio is over 0.5, it's a significant risk factor for long-term health and performance. It doesn't mean you can't ever run; it's merely a safety measure so that you can enjoy years of pain-free running ahead.

Instead of running, walking or alternative cardio can be prescribed as the main workout to build up the volume on your joints and ligaments so that they can better withstand force. Losing weight is important for someone in this phase of their training cycle, and they can build up a significant amount of aerobic capacity while doing so. That way, when they do start to run, it's an enjoyable experience and not an arduous one.

It's essential to remember the expression, "Walk before you can run."

 A man holding his knee due to joint pain

  1. Many people view running as a form of exercise but don’t enjoy the experience.

Have you ever seen a runner who looks like they’re in pain, sweating profusely and barely able to keep going? It’s a common sight, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Running should be an enjoyable experience, but unfortunately, many people approach it in the wrong way.

The truth is that most joggers simply aren’t fit enough or conditioned enough to run. They push themselves too hard, too fast, and too soon, which can lead to injuries and setbacks. Running should be a lifelong adventure, not a painful ordeal.

The key to becoming a successful runner is to build up your body slowly and steadily. This means starting with walking and gradually increasing your pace and distance over time. It also means focusing on strengthening your feet and improving your aerobic capacity.

Many people give up on running because they find it too difficult, but this happens quite often because they haven’t taken the time to properly prepare their bodies. Cardio can be tough, especially for beginners, but with the right training and approach, anyone can become a successful runner.

By conditioning your body, building up your aerobic base, and easing into the running experience, you can avoid injury and enjoy all the benefits of this incredible form of exercise. Running is a great way to improve your health, increase your fitness, and enjoy the outdoors. It’s a lifetime experience that can positively influence your well-being.

So if you’re thinking about taking up running, or if you’ve had a bad experience with it in the past, don’t give up. Take the time to condition your body and build up your strength and endurance, and you’ll soon discover the joy and satisfaction of running. And remember, running isn’t just for athletes or fitness enthusiasts – it’s for anyone who wants to live a healthy, active lifestyle.

  1. Running alone isn't the best strategy to lose weight.

While there are countless success stories of people losing weight by running, the truth is that the effects of running alone on weight loss are often overrated.

Studies have shown that exercise energy expenditure does not necessarily translate to weight loss, and increasing your exercise habits can sometimes have the opposite effect on the scale.

Running can be a helpful component of a weight loss plan, but it's just one piece of the puzzle. Successful weight loss usually involves a combination of regular exercise, calorie control, and other behavioral changes.

Weighing yourself weekly, limiting calorie intake, and exercising regularly are common factors among people who have achieved weight loss success. Running on its own is not the most effective way to lose weight. Great for overall health and wellness but not for weight management.

Running can contribute to weight loss, but like any weight loss approach, there are many factors to consider, including the various components of your body's movement, body weight and overall health. Running can certainly help, but it's just one part of the bigger picture.

A slim person holding a loose jean which they are wearing


In conclusion, while running has numerous health benefits and can be a valuable tool for weight maintenance, it is not the most effective method for weight loss on its own. Research has shown that a combination of calorie control, regular exercise, and strength training is the optimal solution for those looking to lose weight quickly and sustainably. As with any weight loss journey, it is essential to consider all the moving parts and take a comprehensive approach that includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. While the idea of running for weight loss may be appealing, it is crucial to keep in mind that running alone is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many other factors to consider. By incorporating running into a well-rounded approach to health and fitness, individuals can enjoy the many benefits of this activity while also achieving their weight loss goals safely and sustainably.

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