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Running for Weight Loss: Low-Cost Investment, Priceless Reward

We’ll start by saying it loud and clear: running is the hidden key to jump-start your stubborn weight loss journey. Before you take off in the other direction, hear us out. Running for weight loss can help you shed weight fast because of the serious health benefits it offers, such as improving heart health and metabolism. Running targets your body on more than a muscular level, it actually positively impacts your lungs, digestion, and heart to help you look and feel healthier. On top of that, we’ve made running fun with our running plan and pro tips!

To all the skeptics out there, we know this sounds too good to be true. Maybe you’ve already tried multiple workout routines or fad gym trends to lose weight but haven’t had any luck. Don’t feel discouraged. Running for weight loss is different than what you’ve tried in the past. It’s a workout that’s flexible with your time, impactful on your body, and nearly free for your wallet.

So, if weight loss seems unattainable for you, or you’re on track with your goals but have hit a roadblock, try the women’s running for weight loss plans we’ve detailed below.

Does Running Help You Lose Weight?

First thing’s first: Does running actually help you lose weight? Short answer: yes. It improves your cardiovascular health, sleep, metabolism, and overall mood. On top of that, running is an easy way to burn calories.

Long answer — still yes, but as long as you maintain other healthy habits as well. What do we mean by healthy habits? Let’s take a look at some healthy habits to combine with women’s running for weight loss.

1. Eating habits

Young woman holding and eating a bowl of salad in the kitchen

When you’re making your way through the grocery store, stick to buying vegetables, fruits, and healthy carbs. At the same time, try to cut back on sugar and processed or fried foods.

As a general rule, don’t eat something with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Along with food content, you should eat with portions in mind too. No one can tell you the right portion for your body (except a nutritionist), but just try to eat enough that you’re satisfied, but not stuffed.

2. Sleep habits

Woman sleeping in bed with lots of natural light from her windows

Yes, your sleeping habits can impact your weight loss journey too. If you get too little sleep, your appetite can change. Typically, you’ll feel hungrier during the day and more at risk for food cravings.[1]

One study linked shorter sleep periods in women to weight gain.[2] So, work on setting a bedtime routine that you can stick to throughout the week, giving you at least seven hours of rest time.

3. Stress habits

Woman sitting on her office desk doing meditation for stress relief

Of course, you can’t magically have less stress. It’s not easy to manage stress, or even notice just how high your stress is for that matter! However, you can actively make changes to improve it such as meditating daily for 5 minutes (at least). Also, learning how to say “no” instead of over-committing can be a great tool and stress reducer.

Fun Fact: One study showed that weight loss in obese women helped improve their rates of pregnancy and ovulation.[3]

3 Benefits of Running For Weight Loss vs Other Forms of Fitness

There are tons of other workout options out there, it’s true. Between Zumba, yoga, weight-lifting, and at-home workouts the options are endless. You should find what works for you. We can’t say that all other workouts won’t help you lose weight or be enjoyable. However, running has a few key benefits that make it a simple and effective weight loss solution. Check out a few reasons why running for weight loss is so powerful.

1. Cardiovascular workout

Woman outdoors running for weight loss with mountains as a backdrop

You shouldn’t take your heart health lightly. Actually, you should work out your heart often in order to lose weight. Luckily, running is amazing for your cardiovascular system. One study that tracked over 50,000 adults showed that people who ran, even just five minutes per day, had reduced risk of cardiovascular-related deaths and even a longer lifespan.[4]

In terms of women’s running for weight loss, a higher heart rate during running helps you burn fat. Fortunately, running is an aerobic exercise that works out the heart and improves oxygen intake and distribution through the body. In comparison to another workout, like yoga, the aerobic effects for women are just not as good. One study actually tracked yogis and runners and found that female yogis did not have as high of aerobic fitness as runners.[5]

2. Easy for all lifestyles

Woman outdoors running for weight loss

Running is as easy as putting on your shoes, popping in some tunes to jam with, and getting your butt outside. If you can’t make it to the gym between getting the kids to soccer and taking that conference call for work, have no fear. Additionally, running is pretty cheap too because you don’t need any fancy equipment or gym membership. You’ll be on your way to healthier you without breaking the bank or spending hours in specialized class.

While other sports or workouts also have some great weight loss benefits, they don’t all have the same accessibility that running has. One article even showed the hidden costs of gym memberships.[6] So if you want to lose weight but you’re pinching pennies or short on time, running is your new best friend. There are even free running apps you can take advantage of!

While you don’t need to update your running wardrobe, it can be motivating to get some new workout gear. Plus, it’s important for your health and comfort to wear sports bra that actually fits.

3. Runner’s High

Woman running for weight loss outdoors with a city landscape

Now, if you’re the type of person that absolutely dreads cardio and steers clear of the treadmill at the gym, there is a saving grace to look forward to. Have you ever hear of “runner’s high”? If not, listen up — and listen good, because it could what ultimately gets you truly enjoying running for weight loss. The term “runner’s high” describes the after-effects of a long distance run.

Basically, we know that the front portion of the brain, that focuses on emotions and mood, is positively impacted after a run.[7] People even describe this feeling as “euphoric”. There needs to be more research done in order to understand exactly why running is unique from other sports in that it leaves such an impact on people. But, researchers think it comes from the sense of reward and accomplishment after running from achieving a goal (in this case, weight loss goals).[8]

The Ultimate Running Plan For Weight Loss

If you’re ready to take the leap into running for weight loss, but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Running doesn’t have to be boring, scary, and definitely not painful! Let’s go over a few options for weight loss running routines. For all the below plans, you only need a pair of running shoes and workout clothes. It might also help to have some earbuds in blasting your best motivation mix.

Beginner Plan: Walk-Jog-Walk Intervals | 40 minutes

Back view of a woman running for weight loss outdoors in the evening with defocused lights in front of her

How to do it

  • Repeat 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of jogging for 40 minutes.
  • Do this five days per week, adding in one day of intensive stretching or cross-training.
  • Keep one day free from workouts for rest. If you still want to get your body moving and do some recovery work on your rest day, yoga and swimming are two low-impact options.

Intermediate Plan: Jog-Run-Jog Intervals | 40 minutes

Young woman running for weight loss next to a grey wall

How to do it

  • Repeat 2 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of running for 40 minutes.
  • Do this five days per week, and do some intensive stretching or cross-training on one other day of the week.
  • Keep one day free from workouts for rest.

Advanced Plan: Jog, Walk, Sprint Intervals | 40 minutes

Blonde woman running for weight loss on a forest trail

How to do it

  • Repeat 4 minutes of jogging, 3 minutes of walking, and 1 minute of sprinting for 40 minutes.
  • Do this five days per week, and keep one day for intensive stretching or cross-training.
  • Keep one day free from workouts for rest.

Women’s Running: Pro Tips to Get You Started

While running for weight loss isn’t a huge learning curve you’ll need to spend time mastering, it is important to be safe during your practice to optimize results. Here are some tips to take into consideration on your journey.

  1. Cross-train for optimal results and safety. Cross-training means incorporating another exercise into your weekly routine. Running can definitely be your main workout throughout your journey, but adding in two days of yoga or bodyweight exercises is good too. This will help you tone your muscles and prevent any injuries from overdoing it with running 24/7.
  2. Use running for weight loss apps. There are plenty of running apps available that let you track your progress, whether it be mileage, heart rate, or weight loss. The My Fitness Pal workout app helps you track your workouts, running included, and your path to a healthier diet too. It’s available to download for both Apple and Android devices.
  3. Don’t forget to fuel your body properly with food and water. If you want to lose weight as part of your fitness journey, remember to eat properly too. That does not equate with not eating at all, it just means to be conscious of what you’re putting in your body. It’s important to eat healthily and refuel your body when you’re living an active lifestyle. A big part of that is hydration. Drinking eight glasses of water a day will ensure that you won’t get fatigued after a run. You can also try a pre-workout to give your workout an extra boost. In short, rather than think of food less often if you want to lose weight, you should think of food more, just in a different way.
Running For Weight Loss: Low-Cost Investment, Priceless Reward


One of the best things about running for weight loss is that you can start today. Don’t let inner fears or excuses get in the way of hitting the pavement, grass, sand, treadmill, whatever! You’re on this journey to give yourself a brighter, healthier future — starting today. We dare you to take the first step!

Running For Weight Loss Vs Other Forms of Fitness infographic

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