Everyone seems to have an opinion about how to lose weight, and much of what you find on the internet is going to be just that: a person’s opinion. Their opinion may be based on their own experience, or the experience of perhaps many people they know. But that doesn’t mean their opinions are facts.
The simplest answer to the title question is that running does indeed help you lose weight. Studies have been done, the numbers have been crunched, and the facts are pretty clear cut. Running more than 5km a week helps you not only lose weight, but it burns fat.
Some controversy arises everytime a new workout is developed, or a new routine is devised. Running is not a substitute for resistance training, and the reverse is also true. The best results for weight loss and total cardiovascular health are seen in subjects who combine aerobic activity (running, for instance) with resistance training.
How do we reconcile the simple fact of running being effective with all the videos on the internet and all the infomercials telling us that cardio doesn’t work? It’s important to remember that any video we see is probably selling something. That’s how we can reconcile it. Studies conducted by reputable scientists with real human subjects over long periods of time support that running does indeed help you lose weight.
Studies Used for Research
An observational study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness in 2016 looked at people for a 12-month study. People who ran over 5km (around 2.5 miles) a week and changed their diet lost over ten pounds of fat. Some people may tell you that cardio will reduce your muscle mass, or that weight you lose will only be water weight. This study refutes that. They took biometric readings and were able to determine that running and diet lost over 5 kg of fat.
Runners who did not diet also lost fat, but not as much. Dieting effected over 3kg of additional fat loss in subjects.
Some people have recently pointed to the increased benefits of walking rather than running. We found a longitudinal study that looked at subjects for over six years that found the opposite. The study was written by Paul T. Williams at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA. In the results, he found that running long term produced greater reductions in Body Mass Index, better calorie expenditure, and better health.
Advocates of resistance training for weight and fat loss do have their evidence, and it’s well-founded. We found a 12-week study by BMC Public Health that found that resistance training does indeed help with total health goals. But the study found the best results in people who partook in resistance training and cardio or aerobic workouts, like running.
Running does help you lose weight. But if you’re looking to run five miles today and lose weight tomorrow, you will be disappointed. Losing weight takes time, discipline, and changes. We read an article that claimed running doesn’t help you lose weight, and we followed their link to a study here. Contrary to the article we read, the study did indeed say that moderate cardio helped with moderate weight loss. The study concluded, like the others we read, that the weight loss was really seen in those that combined running with diet. We should also note that the studies that support running for fat and weight loss recommend vigorous running, not moderate.
Like any meaningful change, weight loss doesn’t have a magic formula or a siler bullet. It takes time and effort. In the end, running is a great help. The results are going to be better combined with other exercises and with changes to your diet. But the help is still real.