Going out for a single 20-minute jog isn't going to burn much belly fat. But jogging 20 minutes a day several times a week can get you results. Any activity that gets your heart rate up burns fat; the more often you do it and the harder you work, the more fat you'll burn. Turn your 20-minute daily jog into a run, and eat a healthy diet, and you'll lose your belly in no time flat.
Calories Burned Jogging
When you burn calories in excess of what you consume through food each day, you create a calorie deficit that leads to fat loss. How many calories you burn jogging depends a lot on how much you weigh -- the heavier you are the more calories you'll burn.
According to Harvard Health Publications, a 125-pound person will burn 120 calories jogging for 20 minutes, a 155-pound person will burn about 150 calories and a 185-pound person will burn closer to 180 calories. Where you jog also makes a difference; if you're jogging on hilly terrain, you can expect to burn significantly more calories than you would jogging around a high school track.
If you jog four days per week on relatively flat terrain, you can burn 480 to 720 calories, or more, depending on your weight. Whether or not this creates the calorie deficit needed to burn total body fat, some of which will come off your belly, depends largely on what you eat. As long as you balance your calories in with your calories out, you could lose weight with a simple jogging routine.
Jogging Versus Running
If you want to see results more quickly, if you have a lot of if weight to lose or if you want a little more freedom with your diet, upping your pace to a run is going to be much more effective. Just take a look at the calories burned in 20 minutes for a 155-pound person running at different speeds:
- 5 mph (12-minute mile): 200 calories
- 6 mph (10-minute mile): 250 calories
- 7.5 mph (8-minute mile): 310 calories
That's 800 to 1,240 calories a week if you run 20 minutes four times weekly.
Higher intensity exercise, such as running, may also specifically target belly fat, according to research published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders in August 2009. Researchers compared two 12-week exercise protocols -- moderate intensity and high intensity -- both designed to burn 1,000 calories weekly. Even though calorie-burning was the same between the two groups, the participants who exercised at a higher intensity lost more belly fat than those who exercised at a moderate intensity.
High-intensity exercise is typically defined as 70 to 90 percent of maximum heart rate. You can find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Using a heart rate monitor during exercise can help you stay in your high-intensity range while running for maximum belly fat-burning.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Alternating periods of high-intensity running with periods of slower paced jogging, is also an effective way to burn a significant amount of calories, and it's easier than running for 20 minutes straight at a high intensity. Begin with short spurts of running at an all-out pace, and gradually increase the length of your sprints as you become fitter. Recover at an easy jog for the same amount of time that you sprinted, then repeat the sprint/jog cycle for a total of 20 minutes.