Running increases your metabolism. Anytime you increase the total energy demands of your body, your metabolism will speed up. So don't just let those jogging shoes sit in the closet. Hit the trails and enjoy the fresh air, but you need to engage in consistent physical activity to maintain a high metabolic rate that can impact your body weight.
Metabolism comes from the Greek work "metaballein," which means to change. It is the sum of all chemical and physical changes that take place in a living organism to sustain life. Two things take place during the metabolic process: the breakdown of substances to release energy, called catabolism, and the energy-consuming process of building up smaller molecules into larger molecules, called anabolism. While metabolism has its roots in genetics, gender and age, the amount of energy you burn during the day is not completely out of your control. You can incorporate many activities into your daily routine, such as running, that will increase your metabolic rate.
The total amount of energy you expend throughout the day -- also called total energy expenditure -- depends primarily on three factors: the basil metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food and your physical activity. The basil metabolic rate is the energy your body needs to sustain life while you are at rest. The thermic effect of food is the energy your body requires to digest, absorb, transport, metabolize and store ingested food, while the physical activity component, which is the most variable of all components, is the energy your body needs for all forms of physical exertion.
Running and Metabolic Rate
Running, a form of physical activity, does increase the energy expenditure of your body and thus speeds metabolism. Three key things affect the energy expenditure from physical activity -- intensity, duration and frequency. All three effect how much energy you expend while running. Most important is the frequency factor. The only way to speed up your metabolism and maintain a higher rate is through daily physical activity.
The intensity, duration and frequency of your activity will not matter if you give no consideration to what you are using to fuel your body. Running every day may speed your metabolic rate, but if the energy you ingest is greater than your total energy expenditure, the positive net caloric intake will result in weight gain. Caloric intake must be less than total energy expenditure for weight loss to occur.
Lisa Rainer is a registered dietitian who began her writing career in 2004 with a review article published in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association." She writes nutrition-focused articles for her blog, Healthful Sense, and holds a bachelor's and master's degree in nutrition, both from California State University, Northridge.