Running is a highly effective exercise you can perform for significant weight loss. To reach your target weight, you'll need to focus on three important modes: frequency, duration and intensity. Combine these three concepts with a healthy diet and determination, and you'll quickly start melting away unwanted pounds.
The frequency of your runs -- how often you run per week -- will dictate your path to weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing more than 250 minutes of aerobic exercise per week to achieve a clinically significant reduction in weight. This recommendation translates to running on most days of the week. If you are new to running, ease into this frequency to avoid injury. Start with two to three days per week and gradually increase your frequency by one day each month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a person weighing 154 pounds running at 5 miles per hour will burn approximately 295 calories in 30 minutes or 590 calories in one hour. Basically, the longer the duration of your run, the more calories you will burn. If you are a novice runner, use caution when increasing duration in order to avoid injury and burnout. Begin with two to three 30-minute runs per week and gradually increase your duration as you feel comfortable. The CDC states that most people who have lost weight and successfully kept it off engage in some form of physical activity for 60 to 90 minutes on most days of the week. While you don't have to achieve this only by running, this is a good indicator of how much you have to keep moving in order to successfully lose weight.
Along with increasing your duration, you will also need to focus on the intensity of your runs. Increasing intensity will significantly burn more calories and therefore enable you to lose more weight. Interval training -- short bursts of vigorous activity alternated with your comfortable pace -- is a great mechanism for adding intensity to your runs. Once you are comfortable running two to three days per week for 30 minutes you can add in sprints or hill intervals. For example, for every three to four minutes of running at your normal pace, add one minute of sprinting. Like frequency and duration, intensity should be added gradually and with caution in order to avoid injury.
The Exercise-Nutrition Partnership
Significant weight loss is not achieved solely by performing intense running sessions, but rather by partnering your exercise with smart nutrition. Ultimately you'll need to create a caloric deficit -- burning off more calories than you consume. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. Eliminate high-calorie foods from your diet -- fried foods, sweets and liquid calories -- and substitute them for fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lots of water. If you find a way to eliminate 500 calories a day from your diet, you can lose a solid pound in one week from nutrition alone.