Running is one of the most efficient calorie-burning exercises, with a 150-lb. woman burning about 100 calories per mile. Running can help older women combat a slowing metabolism and muscle loss. Women over 40 who want to lose weight should incorporate interval training, hill workouts and long runs into their weekly workout routines to supercharge metabolism and maximize calorie burn. Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Interval training, or alternating slow and steady running with bouts of speed, is one of the fastest ways to burn fat while achieving cardiovascular fitness. A 2006 study performed at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology" found that interval training increases the percentage of fat that the body uses during exercise by 36 percent. For maximum fat burning, run a half-mile warm-up, then alternate running easily for two minutes and running at a near-sprint for two minutes. Beginning runners can alternate fast walking with jogging. Repeat 10 times and finish with a half-mile cool-down.
Another way for women over 40 to lose weight through running is by adding weekly hill workouts to their routines. Running on an incline makes your body work harder, thus burning more calories in the same amount of time. On a treadmill, this means burning 50 percent more calories at a level 5 incline. Add at least one hilly run into your weekly routine by choosing a hilly outdoor route or adding an incline to your treadmill run.
Because running burns so many calories per mile, simply increasing the distance you run can add up to pounds lost over time. A 1997 National Runners Health Study, published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," determined that in middle-age runners, every weekly 10-mile increase in mileage was associated with a significant additional reduction in both body mass index and waist line circumference. In general, runners who ran the farthest per week were the slimmest. To minimize your risk of injury, increase your mileage by no more than 10 percent each week.
For the fastest results, women over 40 should plan on one to two interval runs on non-consecutive days, one hill workout, one to two easy runs, and one longer run each week. The remaining one or two days should be active rest days, during which you can keep busy gardening, stretching or taking a leisurely walk. To safely increase your mileage, add a mile to your long run as well as one or two other runs each week.
- Journal of Applied Physiology: Two Weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Increases the Capacity for Fat Oxidation During Exercise in Women
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Evidence for the Incompatibility of Age-Neutral Overweight and Age-Neutral Physical Activity Standards from Runners