With so many options for getting fit these days, many people are turning to lower impact forms of exercises instead of running. This article explains why running is so good for helping you lose weight and improve fitness. It also explains why those moving to non impact exercises should think again.
1. Running Burns Twice the Fat of most Cardio!
Most of us think of running as a form of cardiovascular exercise which, increases our metabolism (the rate we burn calories) while we run. This helps us burn fat by taking energy we've eaten and using it to fuel our muscles, the same way it does when we cycle, swim and walk.
All cardiovascular exercises increase our metabolism while we do them but few have the "after burn effect" which running and strength training causes. This after burn effect is the prolonged increase in metabolism required to repair micro tears in your muscles.
Running tends to cause cause more muscle soreness than cycling, swimming, rowing, the cross trainer, stepper, elliptical machines because none of these exercises have a significant lowering or impact phase of the movement.
The lowering or, in running's case, landing phase requires our muscles to catch our body weight to prevent it collapsing in a heap. When our muscles catch our body weight or lower something like a barbell there is more muscle damage caused and this is what leads to the repair and increases in the after burn effect.
This makes running a fantastic exercise for burning fat because the calories are not only burned while running but also while recovering from a run.
Worried about this impact leading to injury?
Many of the injuries associated with running are totally avoidable (see final section).
2. Running Saves You Time on Fitness
Focusing your precious training time on an activity you can do without having to drive to another location is great for busy people. Minimal preparation makes running the most time efficient form of cardiovascular exercise you can do.
If you've got a gym membership then running is even possible when the weather is miserable. While any cardio machine can become monotonous in the gym, running is the easiest to take outdoors and allows us plenty of options for mixing things up.
You can do laps of the block, hill repeats, fast and slow intervals or take your workout to the bush or countryside. All of these options allow you to get a quality workout in minimal time. Invite a friend to join you for additional competition or support.
Practically every other form of cardiovascular exercise you can do in the gym either requires you to be at the gym or another location such as the pool. Cycling does allow us to start our workout from the front door but requires much more time to get ready and there's equipment to maintain.
3. Running is Relatively Inexpensive
Running is far less expensive than most sports for a number of reasons:
- no equipment purchase or maintenance required
- no entry fee for training venues
- relatively low entry fees for events
- less travel expenses for trainings
- no uniforms or venue hire
A good pair of running shoes will cost you up to £100 every 6-12 months if you use them regularly but this is no more than what you'll pay for a decent pair of footwear for any other sport.
What's Stopping You?
There are also a number of reasons people choose not to run.
Many are due to the impact and associated injuries but many of these niggles are simply due to:
- over training through running too fast or too far
- lack of strength and stability in the muscles which prevent the injuries
- excessive tension in the muscles which cushion the impact of landing
- poor running mechanics or footwear
The good news is that all of these obstacles can be overcome the same way any athlete recovers from a niggling sports injury. Practically any injury which comes on slowly, as a result of regular exercise can be completely fixed with the correct mix of strength, flexibility and massage therapy.
Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation for Runners
If you'd like to get back into running but suffer from an ongoing niggle or old sports injury then maybe it's time to visit your physio or tell us about it to discuss the best steps you can take next. We recognise that running can put a lot of stress on joints and tissues but know that this can be significantly reduced in most cases.
We'll bring you a steady stream of how to prevent and fix common injuries through this blog and the Cheltenham Running Workshops.