Do you ever tell yourself you are going to start a weight loss program and then find yourself doing endless hours of cardio? Are you a treadmill junky? Cardio is great for working your heart but do you find yourself not loosing weight? You are not alone. Too many times people tell me they run for hours on end on the treadmill but they can't seem to lose weight. I have seen multiple long distance runners/marathon runners also in the same boat....BUT WHY? I'm going to let you in how running isn't the most effective way of losing weight and how you might be wasting your time.
Cons of Running:
1) Hard on your joints: Yes, running pumps blood throughout your body and makes your heart work, but it also puts a lot of stress on your joints. The impact of your body when your foot hits the ground is actually higher than your weight (force involved) hence the impact on joints.
2) Improper Form: Have you been running for years but have never had your gait analyzed? Most novice runners run improperly and thus can cause injury. Make sure if you are going to run that you are striking properly on the ground and getting the most out of your movement and your body.
2) Same routine: Runners tend to do the same thing every day because thats what they do, run! You MUST switch up your workouts! Your body is not stupid, if you do the same thing every day it will preserve energy because it learns how to.. therefore your calories burned will decrease and you will plateau! Goodbye weight loss!
3) Just because you run doesn't mean you can skip the weights: Many times people tell me they don't do resistance training because they run and that their legs are "strong." False. When you run you are increasing your muscular endurance, NOT muscular strength. There is a huge difference. You must strength train to prevent injury, not to mention the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn!
4) Long duration impairs muscular growth: Are you doing your cardio for 60 minutes plus some? Stop right there. If you do long duration cardio you are impairing your muscles from growing and repairing themselves. They need time to rest, recover, and grow!
5) Long distance running will NOT burn more calories: Just because you run for hours a week doesn't mean you are doing more work than the person who did cardio for 20 minutes. Intensity is what defines your calories burned. You can actually burn MORE calories by doing interval training for 15-30 minutes rather than long duration cardio for an hour or more. Again, your body is smart and will find how to work in the most efficient way. Add in some interval training and trick that body of yours and get awesome results.
6) Doing more harm than good? Long distance running releases hormones which can be good and bad. Endorphins are great and make you feel good when they are released however, long duration running also releases high amounts of cortisol (a stress hormone). This can do harm on your body and get in the way by slowing down repair and breaking down muscle tissue. Sometimes people find they not only can't lose weight but they actually gain weight!
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO INSTEAD?
Intervals! Intervals are great for working your heart and burning calories. You also don't have to do them for as long of a period.
Walking! Try taking a brisk walk outside to get your blood pumping. This will still work your heart but won't put as much stress on your joints. If you want to to burn more calories and can handle running, mix the two together for a great calorie burning and interval training cardio session!
Try these tips next time you think "cardio" time.
In good health,
Cristina Walterman, owner of CW Physique, let's you in on fitness and nutrition tips, recipes, exercises and much more. With over 8 years of experience in the industry, she loves to inspire and motivate individuals. She always practices what she preaches and leads by example.