Aerobic exercise is a great way to lose weight, and jogging and running are especially potent in this regard, burning up to 1,000 calories per hour depending on your weight and pace.
Exercising on a 400-meter outdoor track conveniently allows you to keep track of exact distances logged, so you can quantify the hard work you're doing with precision. You can do a variety of track workouts to drop a few inches off your hips while bolstering your overall health.
Curves and Straights
If you aren't yet as fit as you want to be, this is a great way to become acquainted with the track. Even if you're experienced, it's still a quality workout.
Warm up with some walking or easy jogging for about five minutes. Find the start/finish line of the track. Accelerate slowly through the length of the straightaway, achieving about 80 percent of maximum speed. Once you reach the beginning of the turn, slow to a very easy jog or walk and continue this until the end of the turn. Then do another acceleration through the next straightaway. Continue doing this until you've completed six to 12 laps. The workout should be taxing without being exhausting.
The Lane Game
This is a good session for less experienced women.
Start by walking or jogging slowly in the first lane of a 400-meter track. Most such tracks have either six or eight lanes. Once you complete one lap, move into lane two, continuing to alternate walking and jogging in a manner that is invigorating without being exhausting. Every time you complete a lap, move out one lane until you are on the very outside of the track, and then start moving inward toward lane one. Once you're on the very inside of the track again, your workout is complete, and you will have done between 12 and 16 laps in total, giving you roughly three to four miles of exercise.
The advantage of this workout is that it's easy to keep track of laps completed because you change lanes after each circuit of the oval. Do be mindful of other walkers and runners on the track.
This workout is for more experienced women -- those with a recent background in jogging or running rather than walking alone.
Start with an easy 10-minute jog. Then run one lap of the track, 400 meters, at a pace you feel like you could hold for 10 to 20 minutes if you had to. After you finish one lap -- which is 2.3 meters shy of an actual quarter-mile, hence the name of the workout -- jog slowly for 200 meters, then do another "quarter." Do a total of eight to 12 of these.
In addition to being a superb fat-burner, quarters are excellent preparation for a 5K race.
The Drop-Down Ladder
This in spirit is similar to a quarters workout, but it is mentally easier for many women because it is structured in a way that makes each successive fast portion shorter.
Begin with a 10-minute slow warm-up jog. Then run 1,600 meters at a pace you feel like you could maintain for about three miles. Walk or jog one lap, then run 1,200 meters at the same pace as the 1,600. Take another recovery lap, run 800 meters hard, walk or jog one more recovery lap and end the session with a quick 400 meters. This adds up to 2 1/2 miles of fast running in a way that makes it seem like less to most runners.
L.T. Davidson has been a professional writer and editor since 1994. He has been published in "Triathlete," "Men's Fitness" and "Competitor." A former elite cyclist with a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Miami, Davidson is now in the broadcast news business.