Running Fitness & Weight Loss Program

running fitness

Running, like jogging, is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. However, running is performed at a faster pace than jogging, subjects your body to more structural stress, burns more calories and provides even greater level cardiovascular endurance.

Since running is such a vigorous exercise type, you must take special precautions when performing your running routine to not only avoid injury, but to take advantage of the health and physical benefits associated with regularly performing a running routine as well.

By employing proper running techniques, you will find that running can be an excellent physical activity for improving your overall level of fitness, health, and cardiovascular endurance while, at the same time, promoting safe and effective weight loss. Running is an exercise type that can be performed any day of the week and virtually anywhere and at any time of the day or night. Many individuals enjoy running before or after work, while others may choose to run during their lunch break.

For individuals that do not enjoy running outside or prefer to run inside during the winter months, treadmills are an excellent alternative. Treadmills can be found at most fitness centers and can be purchased for home use. Regardless of the format, running is one of the most inexpensive and accessible exercise types available.

Types of Movements

Unlike walking, running involves both feet leaving the ground during the stride. Because of this, and the fact that running is performed at a much faster pace, the shock to your body is much greater. All of your joints are susceptible to injury, but the knees and lower back are especially vulnerable.

There are certain ways of moving that can help prevent injury. Try to remain relaxed while running. Your head should be pointed forward. Keep your arms moving back and forth and do not let them cross the center-line of your body, as this will cause rotation of your torso. Make sure that your body is extended to its full height when running. This will reduce the rate at which you become fatigued and minimize the probability of injury.

Targeted Muscles

running fitness

Running is primarily an aerobic exercise type that conditions the entire cardiovascular system. However, from a toning perspective, the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal and calf muscles of the legs, the hip flexors, and the entire core area are conditioned as well.

The back, shoulders and arms receive a mild workout, as these muscles are required to support the upper body and assist in maintaining proper rhythm, alignment and form. Although running is not designed to develop lean muscle mass, it is effective at toning and defining lean body mass due to the repetition of movement.

What running is truly designed for is conditioning the heart and lungs by providing a very intense aerobic effect.

The intensity of the aerobic effect will depend on the speed and duration of your run. These same factors will also dictate which type of aerobic effect you are targeting. Running is a diverse exercise type that can facilitate several health and fitness benefits.

Aerobic Effect

Running provides a vigorous cardiovascular workout and is one of the best ways to effectively burn calories and produce an aerobic effect. To achieve an aerobic effect, you will need to elevate your heart rate to your target heart rate and maintain that rate for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. The simplest way to calculate your target heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. The resultant number is your maximum heart rate. Your target heart rate will be between 60% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. As a goal, try to run within your target heart rate range for at least 20 to 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week.

Some serious runners will work on the anaerobic side of running. This is for those who train to run shorter distances very quickly. The body must be able to operate while in a state of oxygen deficiency as the muscle's demand for oxygen will exceed the cardiovascular system's ability to provide it.

Most individuals will participate in a running program because of the benefits associated with achieving an aerobic effect. However, individuals that compete in mid-distance sprints perform a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic training techniques. Running can be a very adaptive exercise type that can work either of the two cardiovascular processes (aerobic and anaerobic) in a way that several other exercise types cannot.

Required Equipment

One major benefit of running is that it requires very little specialized equipment. A good pair of running shoes and weather-appropriate clothing will be sufficient for most individuals. It is important to purchase a quality pair of running shoes that fit correctly, provide support and suit your particular gait.

You need to wear clothing that is appropriate for the season and wicks moisture away from your body. While being wet from sweat may make you uncomfortable at any time of the year, it can be dangerous in cold temperatures. Bringing a water bottle to ensure that you stay hydrated is also a good idea. In addition, many individuals enjoy using an MP3 player to help prevent boredom.


Regularly performing a running routine is an excellent exercise type for improving cardiovascular endurance, toning your muscles and eliminating excess body weight. Running will increase your metabolism and burn a high number of calories. The caloric expenditure per running session will depend on your weight, level of intensity and the speed and duration of the run.

Running is also beneficial in toning and sculpting lean body mass. Due to the potential for a running routine to burn a large number of calories per session, weight loss programs that incorporate a running routine have a high rate of success. While running is a more physically demanding and vigorous exercise type than walking or jogging, it can be performed safely by most individuals when executed with the proper techniques .

A 150-pound person running at a 10-minute-per-mile pace can expect to burn between 300 and 375 calories per every 30 minutes of running. That same 150-pound person running at a 6-minute-per-mile pace would burn between 525 and 575 calories per every 30 minutes of running.

running fitness

This amount of caloric expenditure translates to approximately a quarter of an average person's daily caloric intake. In terms of effective weight loss over a reasonable time frame, this is huge. Simply put, running is an excellent addition to any weight loss program.

Running is also ideal for improving cardiovascular endurance, which allows the body to operate more efficiently, provides more energy for daily chores and tasks, and makes life seem much less physically tiring and overwhelming. In addition, many individuals also find running to be therapeutic in that it helps calm, center and clear their minds.

Running as an exercise type provides many physical and mental benefits, and should be considered by any weight loss seekers who are physically able to perform a running routine. For individuals that are beginning a running routine, it is important to ensure that you are running with the correct technique to reduce the probability of suffering an injury that will prevent you from not only reaping the benefits of running, but the attainment of your personal fitness goals as well.