When many people first start their fitness journeys, the first route that a lot of people find themselves going down, when trying to lose body fat and get into better shape, is running. As running and jogging require no real entry level or fancy equipment to get started, it seems logical, just put on your shoes and off you go!
But how can you make the most out of your runs?
There has been significant research that shows that steady state cardio vascular work, like jogging, can be a great way for someone to introduce exercise into their lifestyle, especially those who are new to exercise, or have been living a relatively sedentary lifestyle.
As with any form of exercise, if you go from doing nothing to to jogging/running for any distance or time, your body will be increasing the amount of calories that it burns throughout the day.
This training then leads to an increase in your insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone responsible for fat storage, and developing your body’s sensitivity to it will mean that you may begin to tolerate carbohydrates and use them in a more efficient way. Your body will also then begin to use body fat to produce energy over carbohydrates.
This is fantastic for anyone beginning their exercise journey, however, after a while, you will find that the results will drop off and the fat loss may slow to a complete halt. This is because your body adapts to the exercise you are doing; this happens with running and cardiovascular exercise in particular because it is aerobic exercise (meaning that energy is produced under the presence of oxygen). After some time, your body learns to utilise the oxygen more for energy and uses less body fat.
Surely I can just run for longer?
When a lot of people reach a running plateau, many opt for just increasing the distance they run each time. This can cause issues for fat loss, as after 42 minutes of exercise your body will have an increased production of a hormone called cortisol (stress hormone). Having high cortisol levels combined with cardiovascular activity causes the body to store fat, because your cells become less sensitive to insulin.
How can I get the most out of running?
If you really enjoy running and want to continue to burn fat, the best option in regards to running would be to do intervals. You will burn more overall calories in less time and you will also experience a higher calorie burn in the 24 hours after exercising as your body repairs itself from the damage (which is considered good damage) the intervals have done.
However the best method of progressive weight loss, muscle toning and general fitness is resistance training! By progressively overloading your body, you force it to adapt to what you want it to do! Whilst running is a fantastic way to begin your fitness journey, if you are looking to burn body fat continuously, resistance training is the best way forward!