Is Running Best For Weight Loss? (Part 1)

Runner

I try to read a lot.  Articles, blogs and books on a regular basis.  I even picked up a copy of Oxygen magazine for women on Sunday to learn “5 Steps to Great Glutes”.  A few weeks ago I came across an article on Yahoo entitled “4 Reasons Running is Best for Weight Loss”.  Oddly enough it came from Runners World.  Now if only I could get hired by Lifters of Heavy Things World then all would be right.  Anyway, let me break down the 4 reasons and I’ll tell you what I think.

#1 Running Works Even When You Are Rest

No argument here really.  How one calculates the “afterburn effect”, or calories burned post exercise, I’m not sure but I’m buying it.  The author states that because running is more high-intensity than walking it can lead to greater weight loss.  He doesn’t mention greater intensity running like sprinting which I would argue is potentially safer because there is less total impact stress or reps on the body.  Nor does the author mention sprinting’s brother, resistance training.  Perhaps that higher intensity would make for an even greater calorie expenditure post workout?  Are we to assume that as the author states “High-intensity exercise like running stimulates more “afterburn” than low-intensity exercise”, and that’s that?  No other forms of exercise are more effective for weight loss?  Just run?  Or, as I see it, all he is really saying is that running, because more high intensity than walking, is better.  Great.  (More on this later)

#2 Running Is Time Efficient

Again the author compares running to walking.  Again I agree here.  However he goes on to argue that the allegedly super intense but short workouts like the “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout”, or my own 7-minute bodyweight version don’t burn as many total calories as running because they’re so short.  I understand that there are extremes at either end of the spectrum but this does seem to contradict point #1 at least a little.  Again, are we to believe that running at a moderate pace for an undisclosed amount of time (at least in this article) is the most time efficient when it comes to weight loss and anything else is inferior?

runner

#3 Running Is Convenient

Agreed. Running is in fact convenient. As soon as we start adding weights and gym memberships to the equation things potentially become more difficult. However, I believe bodyweight training is equally convenient when it comes to movement or, exercise, as the author says. And purchasing a few weights in conjunction with your bodyweight training isn’t that difficult. The only inconvenience is the whole learning thing. You know, the part where you have to pay attention to what you are doing and why. Especially when it comes to understanding that more does not necessarily equal better.

#4 Runners High

I get it. If it’s not fun don’t do it. People enjoy running just as much and in the same way I enjoy lifting heavy things. Just because some people enjoy it doesn’t mean it’s best for weight loss though.

There is a multitude of research available, HERE and HERE are just a couple of examples, that conclude such things as “moderate aerobic exercise training during a 12-week period has no discernible effects on body composition but does improve cardiorespiratory fitness in dieting obese women” and “the majority (60%) of women in the diet + exercise intervention achieved ≥10%, while only 42% of those in diet alone, and 3% in exercise alone achieved that target”.

If you clicked on the link at the top and read the original article you may have also noticed the authors article “Why I Love Shortcuts…. And Why They Don’t Work”, that refers to the aforementioned 7-Minute Workout. In it he argues you can’t get the same calorie burn from a 7 minute workout that you can from a 6 mile or roughly 60 minute run.  I will address this “shortcut” argument in Part 2 next week.

– Mike Baltren

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1 Response to Is Running Best For Weight Loss? (Part 1)

  1. nbuchan says:

    Steady state, medium intensity sucks as a fat loss protocol, research and real world data from some of the best coaches and trainers in the world have almost no doubt on this. high intensity protocols such as tabatas are far superior but are taxing on the body. Low intensity (walking) has a significant fat burning affect without taxing your recovery and gains from all important resistance exercise like high and medium intensity work. Tabatas have even been shown to be as effective as steady state cardio in improving cardiorespiratory fitness and VO2 max.

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