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Is running the best weight loss exercise?



Not necessarily. Running can certainly be a great weight loss exercise if you enjoy it, but for those who may not really be 'runners' - there are many other forms of exercise that can contribute to weight loss.

For weight loss to occur we must expend more calories than we consume. Exercise in any form - whether cardio or resistance training - expends calories and therefore contributes to helping create a negative caloric balance necessary for weight loss.

Cardio exercises are activities that elevate your heart rate and breathing rate. Examples include walking, running, cycling, group exercise classes, and playing with your children. For weight loss it is recommended that you perform 60-90 minutes of cardio activities at least five days of the week. If you are new to exercise, start slow with 5-10 minutes each day and gradually work up to the recommended 60-90 minutes.

Resistance training is also a necessary part of any weight loss plan. Resistance training helps build active muscle, making the body become more metabolically active. Having more active muscle means that you will burn more calories throughout the day just doing normal every day activities.

Since the goal of weight loss is to create a caloric deficit, consuming less calories on a daily basis will also largely contribute to weight loss. Eating less and moving more, by choosing activities that you enjoy (whether it's running, or not) will help create the negative daily caloric balance necessary for successful weight loss to occur.
Family Running in Park
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Not really. But if you love it and can’t think of a day without it, then yes.  Otherwise, not necessarily. The best weight loss exercise is one that you will stick with no matter what. If you love swimming as much as Michael Phelps, swim! If you prefer Lance Armstrong’s exercise of choice, then grab a bike.  If none of those tickle your fancy, you can pick up our favorite exercise: walking. It’s free and you can do it anywhere at any time.  Find what you love and stick with it and soon those LBs will melt away. But the best is resistance
exercise or weight lifting. A pound of muscle uses 75 to 150 cals a day whether you consciously use it or not—so building muscle is key to losing weight from exercise.
Wendy Batts
Fitness

There is no magic cardio weight loss exercise out there. The “best” one is the exercise you’ll do consistently over time. Often that involves changing things up regularly to keep you from getting bored and stop your body from getting to used to something (hitting that plateau). To lose weight, we must burn more calories than we consume. This means incorporating a sensible, reduced calorie diet and increasing our physical activity. Whatever you choose for increasing your physical activity, being running or otherwise, be sure it’s something you enjoy and will do regularly!

Not necessarily. Running is only one exercise that can aid in weight loss, provided the runner eats fewer calories than they burn. Any exercise done for an extended period of time is referred to as cardiorespiratory exercise or "cardio" for short. Running, biking, walking, elliptical machines, swimming, and rowing are all common forms of cardio. Anything in this category is good for you because it is working the heart, lungs, and muscles. One potential downside to running is the impact forces experienced by the body. Not everyone’s body holds up so well to the constant pounding it endures while running, and depending upon an individual’s current physical conditioning and presence of muscle imbalances, it may not be a good choice at all. Ideally, if your goal is conditioning and/or fat loss, you should vary the type of exercise you do on a regular basis. This will allow the body to make new adaptations to new demands and improve your overall fitness. The most important thing to remember when trying to lose weight is that you must be in a calorie deficit. To lose one pound a week, you must eat 500 fewer calories a day than you burn. Your decision on how to burn those calories should be based on your enjoyment of an activity and your ability to perform it without risking injury.

Running is a great exercise for weight loss, but not necessarily the best. Pick a type of cardio that you enjoy doing, change it up on a regular basis, one session do long and steady and the next do high intensity.

Continue Learning about Exercise For Weight Loss

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How Long Do I Have to Exercise to Burn Off Certain Foods?
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What Time of Day Will I Get the Most Effective Workout for Weight Loss?
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.