When it comes to losing weight, every little bit helps — but ultimately, consistency is key. So while a single half-hour jog absolutely will contribute to your weight loss goals, making that jog a habit and doing it five days a week — or more — is even more effective. Pair that with healthy habits like good hydration, plenty of sleep and a healthy diet, and you'll be well on your way to the slim body you're looking for.
If you're focused on losing weight, every little bit helps, but consistency is best. So while a half-hour jog will certainly help your cause, making that half-hour jog a habit on most days will help even more.
Calories Burned by Jogging
The exact number of calories you'll burn during your jogging workouts depends on a number of factors, including your body composition, weight, how fast you run and what sort of terrain you're running on. With that said, Harvard Health Publishing offers some excellent calorie-burn estimates to help you zero in on how quickly jogging will help you lose weight.
- If you weigh 155 pounds, a half-hour jog at 5 mph (equivalent to a 12-minute mile) burns about 298 calories.
- If you weigh 185 pounds and jog for a half-hour at 5 mph, you'll burn about 355 calories.
- If you weigh 155 pounds and jog for half an hour at 5.2 mph (equivalent to an 11.5-minute mile), you'll burn 335 calories.
- If you weigh 185 pounds and jog for half an hour at 5.2 mph, you'll burn 400 calories.
As you can see, even a relatively small increase in intensity (in this case, measured by speed) has a notable effect on your calorie burn.
Other ways of increasing your calorie burn without increasing your jog time include mixing in sprint intervals, running up hills or continuing to increase your overall speed. For example, if you weigh 185 pounds and can work up to jogging at a solid 6 mph (equivalent to a 10-minute mile), you'll burn about 444 calories in a half-hour workout.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, don't despair. The sooner you get started, the faster the weight will come off. Breaking your goal into smaller, bite-size chunks can help, and even a little bit of weight loss can have big benefits.
According to the Obesity Action Coalition, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your weight can result in substantial improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin resistance, obstructive sleep apnea and general inflammation.
Why More Is Better
If jogging burns so many calories, why should you aim to take your half-hour jogs at least five times a week? First, if you're serious about losing weight, you need to burn a lot of calories. It takes a deficit of about 3,500 calories — or, to put it another way, burning about 3,500 calories more than you take in — to lose one pound of body fat. The more you jog, the faster you'll torch those calories.
Second, weight loss isn't the only benefit you get from regular cardiovascular exercise like jogging. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week. It's not coincidence that it's the same as getting a half-hour workout five days a week.
By doing so, you can look forward to the many health-related benefits you get from cardiovascular exercise, which include a stronger immune system, a natural mood boost, better quality of life and more stamina. Aerobic training may also decrease the risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type II diabetes.
Read more: 17 Reasons to Start Running
When You Jog
Losing weight requires you to put in some serious workout time during the week — which means you should also take good care of yourself to avoid injury and get the most out of your effort. With that in mind, there are some important types of self-care you should engage in.
Warm up and cool down. Taking the time to warm up with a brisk walk or slow jog for at least five to 10 minutes before you really start jogging — then cool down with another five to 10 minutes (or more) of the same — provides many benefits.
That small time investment reduces your risk of injury, increases your performance and makes the first few minutes of your run — which may sometimes be uncomfortable as your body ratchets up into "physical activity mode" — go by more smoothly.
Stay hydrated. A study published in a June 2016 issue of Frontiers in Nutrition found that chronic dehydration affects the ability of rodents to lose weight — and that this correlates with observations in humans.
However, more research is warranted to clarify the exact mechanism by which hydration affects not only weight loss but other health factors, including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. So, not only will drinking water most likely help you lose weight, it may also be an important factor for other measures of health.
Get some sleep. Another study, published in the journal Obesity in May 2019, associated more sleep with lower body fat in children. It didn't show a clear association between sleep and BMI for adults, but it didn't rule it out either — and if nothing else, getting enough sleep will help you feel rested and recovered after your jogs.
Read more: 10 of the Most Common Weight-Loss Mistakes
How Much Is Too Much?
Can you get too much of a good thing? When it comes to exercise like jogging, the answer is "yes" for several reasons.
First, jogging is fairly high-impact, so if you find your joints complaining, give them a break by opting for a lower-impact workout like swimming, cycling or running on an elliptical trainer.
Second, no matter what kind of exercise you're doing, it's possible to overtrain. The threshold for overtraining is different for everybody; you can make things easier on yourself by easing into new workouts gradually. Watch out for signs of overtraining, such as agitation, excessive fatigue, decreased performance, nagging injuries and your normal jogs feeling consistently harder than they should.
If you reach the point of overtraining, you should dial your workouts back and see a medical professional. That's especially important if you don't quickly recover after reducing your workout load.
Ideally, you'll learn to know your body and what it can handle so well that you can avoid pushing things quite that far in the first place. You don't need to overtrain to lose weight by jogging. Just stay consistent and pair those regular workouts with a nutrient-rich diet with an appropriate calorie intake.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Mayo Clinic: Aerobic Exercise: "How to Warm Up and Cool Down"
- Frontiers in Nutrition: "Increased Hydration Can Be Associated With Weight Loss"
- Obesity: "Sleep Duration and Adiposity in Children and Adults: Observational and Mendelian Randomization Studies"
- Health.gov: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- Mayo Clinic: "Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical"
- Obesity Action Coalition: "Benefits of 5 to 10 Percent Weight Loss"
- American Council on Exercise: "9 Signs of Overtraining"
- Health.gov: "Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"