In theory, losing weight is a simple process -- you move a little more and eat a little less. The difficult thing is knowing exactly how much you need to move. In today's busy world, every second counts, so a quick daily activity, such as running half a mile, could be the ideal training method for getting in shape. You need to weigh up whether this is really enough to get you in the shape you want though.
First, you need to work out how many calories running half a mile will burn. If you weigh between 125 and 185 pounds, running at a speed of 5 miles per hour for 30 minutes burns between 240 and 355 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. Pick up your speed to 7.5 miles per hour and this rises to between 375 and 555 calories burned in half an hour, while running at 10 miles per hour burns between 495 and 733. Taking 7.5 miles per hour as an example, it will take you four minutes to run half a mile, meaning you'll burn between 37 and 74 calories. If you're lighter than 125 pounds or heavier than 185, you'll have to adjust accordingly.
Exercise is a fine way to burn calories, but your diet actually makes more difference when it comes to losing weight. Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. A healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, according to the Mayo Clinic, and it takes a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound. If you're currently maintaining your weight, then dropping your calories by 500 every day would result in 1 pound of weight loss each week. Cutting calories purely from diet can be difficult without sacrificing nutrition though, so running enables you to create a deficit through a combination of diet and calorie burning.
While the number of calories burned running may seem negligible, that's not the only thing to think about. Every time you exercise, you give your metabolism a mini-boost, which raises your calorie burn for a few hours after training. You can increase this metabolism boost for up to 24 hours post-workout by switching to high intensity interval training, according to Rachel Cosgrove, trainer and owner of Results Fitness in California. Instead of running your half mile at a steady pace, try sprinting for 20 to 30 seconds, then jogging at a steady pace for 30 seconds and repeating until you've covered the distance.
While your purpose for taking up running may be to lose weight, don't plan on quitting once you reach your goal. For one thing, maintaining your weight at the new level will require at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise per week. But cardio has other benefits as well, such as reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and maintaining strong bones -- things you'll care about more as you get older.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.