For a lot of people, running and weight loss go hand in hand. But are you running for weight loss or running for health reasons? Running for weight loss is worlds apart from running for health.
Table of Contents for Article
Running for Health
If you are running for health, by all means start or continue to do so. Exercises where you exert at a steady pace are called Steady State Cardio exercises. This is because you would almost always cover the same distance at the same intensity.
Steady state cardio also includes all the other type of exercises that you would do in a gym such as the elliptical trainer or stationary bike.
Steady State Cardio is extremely helpful for those who have a very stressful life. It is like pressing the Ctrl-Alt-Del button in your brain and rebooting it. Just like rebooting a Windows PC restores its performance, the same effect can be expected on your mind when you do Steady State Cardio.
Latest studies have shown that Steady State cardiovascular exercises boost the mental abilities of children and helps prevent dementia in the aging population. It also helps to reduce depression and anxiety. Last but not least, there are all the positive effects on your cardiovascular system.
Running and Weight Loss
Running and weight loss is a different ball game all together. If you are running for weight loss, you are fighting a losing battle. You can get exceptional weight loss results if you do high intensity interval type running. But except for fit individuals, very few people do this. As such, the rest of the article makes reference to running as a steady state cardio type of exercise. See an earlier article on a scientific paper published addressing this issue “How to Make Jogging Work for Weight Loss”
Steady State Cardiovascular exercises are endurance based. This is what you would expect from the marathoners and long distance runners. If you have read “How to Make Jogging Work for Weight Loss“, you will understand why you have to continuously increase your running distance to continue losing weight. In other words, you need to continuously increase running intensity.
Always remember that the only reason you and I are still around today is because of the highly adaptive nature of our bodies. It can adapt to what ever stresses you throw at it. When you continuously jog the same distance every time, your body tries to adapt to this form of exercise. It senses that you are continuously running long distances and thus must make your muscles more efficient at utilizing fuel (your fat stores in this case).
What it means is that if were running for weight loss, you would burn 10 grams of your fat stores to complete your jog today. When you continue at the same intensity, you may only need 8 or 9 grams in a month to run the same distance.
Running and weight loss?
Most people who cannot continuously increase running distances will reach a level of equilibrium. Provided their food intake remains the same, they will neither lose or gain weight. If they want to lose more weight, they need to run a little further but the body quickly adapts and again a state of equilibrium is achieved. This is our survival mechanism at its best.
This survival mechanism was essential for our pre-historic ancestors. Assume that a caveman had to forage a jungle or chase a prey for days. He would most probably be doing it in a situation with reduced access to food. If there was ample food, there would be no need for him to do this work. Unless his body adapted to the stress and made his muscles more efficient, he would continue using up his fat stores. Unless he found food, he would eventually run out of fat stores and die. As such, the adaptive mechanism of the body was essential for survival.
You will also note that during long bouts of jogging or running, the body actually thinks that it is starving and will start holding on to body fat even more tightly as ever. No matter how much you been jogging or running, the muscles have become very efficient and the body has started to become very strict with the releasing of body fat for fuel.
The body still thinks that you are a caveman chasing some prey somewhere and if it does not ration the release of your fat stores for burning, you will eventually die of starvation. If we could only let our bodies know that we were only exercising in a world where food is abundant.
So when it comes to running and weight loss, ask yourself the reasons for doing so. It’s not right or wrong to continue running. Just make sure you know if you are running for weight loss or running for health.