7 Amazing Benefits of Running for Weight Loss

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Many people choose to go running for weight loss since it is an excellent way to burn calories, improve your metabolism, make your exercise more efficient and convenient, and enjoy a “runner’s high”. That being said, running is also a controversial approach for those who want to lose weight fast. Running a mile is basically equivalent to burning off 100 calories, which means that you would need to run approximately 35 miles to lose a pound. That sounds like a huge amount of effort to lose one pound, but as you know, losing weight – and keeping it off – is never a simple process. Running the right way is far more important for weight loss than the act of running itself.

Due to the benefits that running can have on our body, it is commonly recommended by exercise and nutritional gurus for weight loss. [1]

Benefits of Running for Weight Loss

The top benefits of running for weight loss include controlling your appetite, improving your metabolic speed, burning off calories, saving time, making exercise more convenient, and even improving your dietary habits.

Improves Metabolism

When you participate in a high-intensity exercise, such as running your body’s metabolic speed increases. In other words, it naturally burns more calories and keeps your body in an elevated state of fat-burning, even long after your exercise is finished. Over time, you can increase your resting metabolic rate through running, which will keep your “machine” operating more efficiently, even while you work, eat, relax, and sleep! [2]

Burning Calories

For people who want to lose weight, the primary goal of running is to burn calories, which will eventually result in shedding those pesky pounds. If you try a run-walk strategy, the results are even more noticeable. Elevating and dropping your heart rate, and interrupting strenuous exercise with periods of rest, can help your body boost its calorie-burning ability by being more reactive and dynamic. Aside from this, running is also known to be an antidepressant in nature! [3]

Protects Heart Health

Running is an excellent way to keep your cardiovascular system in shape. Increasing your heart rate can work to strengthen the blood vessels and arteries, essentially giving your vascular system a workout, while also helping to keep your resting heart rate and blood pressure lower, which reduces strain on the cardiovascular system over the long term. Regular exercise in the form of running can also help lower cholesterol and lower your risk of diabetes. [4]


While many people lament about spending an hour at the gym lifting weights or doing other sorts of resistance training, running can be one of the fastest ways to enjoy an effective workout every single day. People who jog might take an hour or so for a full workout, but high-intensity running can deliver serious weight-loss effects with as little as 20-30 minutes per day. Remember, intensity and interval training is crucial for weight loss.

Appetite Suppressant

Following a long run, it is completely normal for the body to feel ravenous, but this is simply a depletion of energy reserves and not actually an excuse to gorge yourself on food. If you resist the urge to fill that hole in your stomach completely, your body will begin to learn how to do more with less, so running can become a natural appetite suppressant over time.

Couple jogging in a park

Finding a running partner can help you stay motivated. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Dietary Changes

That being said, replenishing nutrients following a run is also critical to muscle growth and proper recovery from your exertion. Your body will feel much better if you deliver nutrient-rich foods following a workout, rather than empty carbs that may taste delicious, but basically negate all of the hard work you just put in. Serious runners will quickly find their dietary habits changing to include more fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which can help keep your metabolism operating at a high rate. [5]


Running is arguably the most convenient form of exercise. There is no need for equipment, membership fees, a personal trainer, or even a commute to a gym or community center. Provided you have a pair of good running shoes, you are ready to start working out. For people with tight schedules or those who are always looking for an excuse not to go to the gym, running can be the most convenient way to lose weight, provided it is done properly!

How Long to Run to Lose Weight?

In order to lose weight, most experts suggest running 3-4 times per week for 45 minutes to 1 hour. However, as mentioned earlier, this may not be the fastest way to lose weight. The body is a rather incredible and adaptable machine, meaning that it can learn your habits and behave accordingly. As a result, if you consistently run at the same speed, and for the same duration, your body will adjust to that, so your weight-loss results from the first week or two will not continue for very long.

What matters in terms of running for weight loss is the intensity of your running. If you alternate the duration of your running such as interspersing sprints, or running at a fast pace for 20 minutes, rather than a moderate pace for 45 minutes, your body will burn more calories due to the extra effort. This intensity will help increase your muscle mass, which means more passive calorie-burning by your body just to function normally. [6]

There is also such a thing as running too much for weight loss. If you are running for multiple hours each day, and aren’t seeing any improvement in your weight, you may be putting too much stress on your body. This will cause the release of certain stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can actually lead to more fat deposition. Furthermore, improper rest between exercises and a lack of proper nutrient replacement, will damage your hormone levels and impact thyroid function, which can actually cause you to gain weight! [7]

Overall, there are many benefits of running for weight loss and general wellness. But your exercise routine must be dynamic, challenging, and appropriate for your age, diet, and health status. If you keep your metabolism guessing by shifting calories and complement your running with a proper diet and lifestyle choices, you can definitely start to shed those pounds! [8]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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