When it comes to losing weight and toning your body, running is one of the most powerful workouts you can do to speed the process. According to Running USA, thousands of Americans have jumped on the running bandwagon in the last decade, sending the marathon finisher total into the 500,000s during 2010 and 2011. And the number of women who are among those finishers has skyrocketed in the process. They’ve discovered that not only can running increase your self-confidence and help you achieve goals, it can also help you drop pounds, tone your muscles and improve your overall health.
Burn, Baby, Burn!
One reason why running is such an effective weight-loss tool is due to the high number of calories it burns. A 155-person can torch more than 370 calories in 30 minutes by keeping a 10-minute-per-mile pace. Because it takes only 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound, it is entirely possible to shed weight through running alone without decreasing your daily calories provided you don't increase your intake. Plus, the faster you get, the more calories you burn per minute.
Running doesn’t build a great deal of muscle, but it will make your legs stronger to a point. As a weight-bearing exercise, running will build your muscles to the point at which they are able to run your distance. After that, any muscle development will have to be done through strength training or hill running. By challenging yourself to run up an incline, you force your muscles to work harder and develop greater strength.
Looking the Part
With the calorie burn of running, it can make you appear more toned even if you haven’t built bodybuilder-sized muscles. Simply by shedding pounds and working your muscles through running, you will start to appear leaner as the fat around your muscles disappears. Because running develops your leg muscles to the point at which they can handle the workouts, you will start to see muscle definition as you log the miles. This effect will be increased even more if you add strength-training to your workout routine.
While running is effective at helping you lose weight and shape up, it’s important to keep in mind the health benefits of diet and strength training as part of a total fitness plan. Eating a nutritious diet will not only help you speed up the weight loss, it will also help fuel your runs and improve your health. Strength training can also help you get better as a runner by building muscles for speed and strengthening your bones to ward off stress fractures. As with any new diet or exercise program, however, consult with your physician before you begin to ensure your health and safety.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.