It’s practically a trope by now: someone overweight or obese decides they need to lose the extra pounds, so they bust out the running shoes and start jogging around the block. At first glance, it seems to make sense: running is cardio, and doesn’t even require equipment or a gym membership, so why not?
There are a few reasons why not. Here are a few things you may want to consider before attempting to run your way to a fitter body.
It’s not the most efficient way to cut calories
The truth is, for anyone significantly overweight, a diet will play a much more significant role in weight loss than exercise. Losing weight comes down to creating a caloric deficit — burning more calories in one day than you consume. When it comes to creating that deficit, it’s so much harder to burn the same amount of calories than it is just not to consume it in the first place. If that sounds confusing, take this example: to burn 500 calories, you’d have to run for about an hour at a moderately fast pace–something that will be pretty hard to do for a beginner. That’s roughly the same amount of calories in a venti caramel frappe or a large serving of fries. So it’ll likely be much easier to be less indulgent in your diet than to try to burn a large number of calories by running.
Make no mistake: unless your doctor advises you not to, then you should be exercising, not just for weight loss but also for your overall health. But the bottom line is, to shed those pounds, adjustments your diet should always be the first place you look.
It can be pretty hard on your joints
Running is excellent for getting your heart pumping, but it’s also a high-impact exercise. Every time your foot hits the pavement, it puts a lot of stress on your joints (specifically your knees and ankles). This is especially true for heavier people. Running when you’re at your heaviest can leave you with joint injuries, both immediately and down the line, that can set you back further in your fitness journey.
Fortunately, there are plenty of lower-impact options that provide a great cardiovascular workout as well. Brisk walking is a good starting point for those just starting to transition out of a sedentary lifestyle.
Swimming is one that’s particularly good for overweight people who are just beginning to exercise. It will improve your lung capacity and heart health while your joints don’t take a beating at all.
Other exercises to consider are elliptical machines, cycling (either outdoor or indoor), and rowing machines.
There might be other exercise types that are a better fit for you
Running is an effective cardiovascular exercise, but just like any other form of cardio, you’ll only reap the benefits of it if you do it consistently. So ask yourself: is running something you enjoy enough that you’ll be to do regularly, for a very long time, if not for good?
If the answer is yes, and you’ve caught the running bug and find yourself always looking forward to your next run, then great! But if you find yourself having to begrudgingly put your shoes on and drag yourself out the door and reassuring yourself that you’ll only have to go through this until you lose weight, then you might be better off trying something else.
The great thing about cardio is that there are so many different kinds, it’s not hard to find one that you enjoy. We’ve already mentioned swimming and cycling, but how about trying a group aerobics class, dance class or Zumba? It can be a fun way to stay active, and often comes with a friendly, positive atmosphere that will keep you coming back.
If you are interested in pursuing the swimming route in order to lose weight or you would just love to have a swimming pool and or spa/hot tub in your backyard, get in touch with us. You have nothing to lose by speaking with us. Let us show you what we can do for you.