Is Running Good for People Who are Overweight?

If you are overweight or obese, you may be considering adding running to your fitness routine. Once you have appropriate running shoes and supportive gear, you can create your own roadmap. Running is free and accessible to almost everyone making it a viable option for many. Still, it can place a lot of stress on your ankles, shins, knees and lower back, so making sure that you begin safely is imperative to avoiding injury, improving your speed and distance, and losing weight. So, if you’re wondering if running is good for people who are overweight, the answer is yes – if you do it wisely.

Getting Started Running for Weight Loss

Adding running to your fitness routine while being overweight can be difficult. Start slowly and gradually to reduce the risk of injury. When you carry extra weight, you are already putting stress and pressure on your bones and joints, so it is imperative to slowly add intensity. This helps lessen the shock to your body, makes sure that you do not cause any repetitive injuries, and helps to ensure your joints and muscles are agile enough to cope with the impact of running. 

When starting a running routine, your initial warmup and workout may not actually include running. If you are carrying high levels of body fat, start with a walking program to help your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones strengthen and adjust for exercise.

Another focus before you begin running is to do technical drills to help develop the right technique. One of the challenges with being overweight is that you could be struggling with balance due to the load the extra weight puts on your body. Start with technical drills to achieve better balance before you start running. A great technical drill is a low impact walking high knee routine. This is a wonderful way to improve and challenge your coordination and balance.

Running to Lose Weight

Some people think that they’re not good enough to start running, or they tell themselves that they’ll start running once they’ve gotten into better shape. Sound familiar? If this is you, think again. You do not need to be a great runner to run; you just have to start. Even if your run is more of a stop/start kind of shuffle or more of a power walk, it truly does not matter.

It also doesn’t matter how long you are out there, whether you run nonstop, how far you run, or are able to run timed miles. You simply have to get out of your house. Have a goal to stay moving for at least 20 minutes before returning home. Doing that frequently enough will result in improvements in speed and stamina.

Running Techniques

You should always be concerned about running properly, especially if you’re running while overweight. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Walk before running. Measure the number of steps you take in a day with a pedometer and then set yourself a goal of completing and then exceeding those steps every single day. Once you get in the habit of meeting this daily goal, you will have also developed the habit of pushing yourself beyond your typical activity levels. The next step is to move your power walk up to a run.
  • Remember quality over quantity. It is much better to run faster over shorter periods of time, rather than running slower for a longer distance. Your safety comes first and overdoing it can cause back pain and higher impact on your muscles and joints.
  • Steer clear of running on paved roads. Instead, run on a track or on the grass. When you start to tire out while running, your technique can weaken. This results in greater striking force of your feet on the ground. By running on softer surfaces, you are reducing this impact because the softer surfaces are much better at absorbing this impact.
  • Catch your breath. If you are struggling to breathe while running, slow down to a walk. Stick to the 60-second rule. Walk whenever you like, as long as you begin running again after walking for 60 seconds.

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