Some people make running look easy, but it's not. Running requires muscular and cardiovascular endurance, and can be extremely uncomfortable for your body. However, it can also burn a lot of fat and help control your weight. You do not need to be able to run for 30 or more minutes straight to burn body fat. Alternate running and walking to build endurance and burn fat.
To burn body fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume on a regular basis. This creates a caloric deficit, so your body will turn to its fat stores for the energy it needs to function. All physical activity, even housecleaning, helps burn excess calories. Some activities burn more calories than others, leading to increased fat burning. The important thing to remember is that the intensity, frequency and duration of cardio are important, not the exact activity.
Cardio Workout Frequency
Perform cardio workouts, such as running and walking, three to five days per week for moderate weight loss and five to seven days per week for significant weight loss, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per session and keep your intensity moderate to high to burn the most calories. If you are new to exercise, start slowly. Begin run-walk workouts every other day for 20 minutes. You can also start with just walking and add in a little running at a time. Gradually increase the frequency, intensity and duration until you are run-walking in the recommended range.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Alternating running and walking is a form of high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. HIIT calls for repeated bouts of short-duration, high-intensity exercise intervals alternating with lower-intensity active recovery intervals, according to the American Council on Exercise. It is an effective way to improve your health and fitness and to lose body fat. For example, walk for five minutes to warm up. Run for 30 to 90 seconds at a fast pace with good form. Slow down to a brisk walk for one to three minutes. Repeat the running and walking for at least 20 minutes. End with a slow walk to cool down.
When you begin any type of exercise program, define your goals so that your exercise can help you meet them. If you don't define your desired results, you might not achieve them. As you become more fit, you need to change your workouts. Change the activity you perform or add in other activities along with run-walking. Shorten active recovery intervals and make running intervals longer as another way to stimulate fat loss. You can even gradually take out walking completely and run for your workouts. This strategy helps you avoid a plateau and reach your desired body fat level.
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2010
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Fat Facts
- American Council on Exercise: What Is High Intensity Interval Training and What Are the Benefits?