Running can be an extremely effective tool for calorie-burning, but it only works if it's something you do regularly. If you hate to run, you're unlikely to do it enough to make any significant impact on your weight loss.
In fact, most exercise doesn't make much of a dent when it comes to shedding pounds—it's your diet that really matters. A review of studies published in 2014 in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease determined that, unless the overall volume of aerobic exercise is very high, you're likely to lose a significant amount of weight.
However, it's important to remember that there are benefits other than weight loss when it comes to exercise, so it's not something you should skip entirely. It increases your resting energy expenditure, so you burn more calories when you're not exercising, and it lowers blood pressure, prevents diseases such type 2 diabetes, improves sleep and sharpens your mind — but that's only if you do it.
If you want to exercise regularly to lose weight, choose an activity that you'll stick to.
Alternative Exercise Options
The number of calories you burn during an hour of exercise — the amount you should do five days a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to lose weight — varies based on your weight and the intensity of the workout.
For a 160-pound person, one hour of running at a 10-minute-per-mile pace burns approximately 580 calories. That's a pretty good caloric burn, but it's not the only exercise that offers that much. Riding your bike outdoors at an average 12- to 14-mph pace burns approximately the same number of calories per hour. An hour of kickboxing burns even more, 727 calories.
You can also combine other activities to match the caloric burn that running offers. An hour on the elliptical trainer burns approximately 365 calories, and it's much easier on your joints. Light- to moderate-intensity swimming burns a little more than 420 calories, while hatha yoga will burn slightly fewer than 300 calories per hour.
Additional calorie-burning activities that you can do instead of running includes hiking, weight-training, dancing and walking.
Read More: Benefits of Swimming for Weight Loss
Clean Up Your Diet
If you were to eat a 300-calorie candy bar, it would take you more than 30 minutes of running to work off the calories — that's precisely the reason why exercising, even running, is not as efficient for weight loss as monitoring your diet.
To lose a pound of weight, you want to restrict your caloric intake by approximately 500 calories per day from what your body needs each day to maintain your current weight. This equals 3,500 calories cut per week, resulting in weight loss of 1 pound.
According to Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health, higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet are more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets. It could be because they tend to be more satiating, so you eat less overall, or because it creates a great thermic effect — i.e., it takes more energy to store and metabolize the protein.
No matter what the cause, if you want to lose weight, focus on eating a combination of lean proteins, such as fish, poultry, soy and legumes, combined with vegetables, particularly green leafy ones such as spinach, lettuce and kale. Add fat, such as olive oil, cheese or nuts, and incorporate a low to moderate amount of complex carbohydrates. This could be brown rice, whole-wheat bread or starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes.
Read More: Weight Loss Diets