Whether it is your favorite exercise or not, running is undeniably one of the best exercise options to help attain your fitness goals. Experts emphasize two main things for running for weight loss; the miles you cover and the consistency. Unless you are a marathoner, you will be required to stick to a particular window. Can you run 5 miles a day to lose weight? This question summarizes our focus in this read. We will be going into details about what miles you need to cover to lose weight, plus the safety of this window. Let us get started!
There is nothing more annoying and unpleasant than the advice of a newly converted runner. Do not get us wrong; running is not bad, as we shall see below. However, anyone who hates running cannot stand such advice.
However, the perception may change once such individuals embrace a running routine. But what can convince them to lace up and run for miles? Well, there is nothing as convincing as the list of benefits of running. Some of them include:
Reduced Blood Pressure
Running has been deemed effective in reducing high blood pressure. (5). High blood pressure happens to be one of the riskiest conditions. Uncontrolled high blood pressure causes your arteries to harden and thicken, causing atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis causes heart attacks and strokes (3). In addition to these, uncontrolled high blood pressure also results in (3):
- Heart Failure. The narrow vessels force your heart to work ten times harder to pump blood. Unfortunately, the thickened muscle tires overtime to pump enough blood to meet your blood needs, leading to heart failure.
- Aneurysm. An aneurysm is formed when the blood vessels weaken and bulge. The bursting of an aneurysm is life-threatening.
- Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism. They include high triglycerides, high insulin levels, high blood pressure, decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol, and increased waist size (3).
- Dementia. The narrowed arteries limit blood flow to the brain causing vascular dementia.
Running helps reduce blood pressure by making your heart stronger. A stronger heart pumps blood effortlessly, and there is reduced force in your arteries, which lowers blood pressure.
Running can also help in improving your mood by releasing endorphin and serotonin. These two chemicals are released in your brain and are believed to boost your energy and make you happier (8). An improved mood also helps in reducing anxiety and depression.
Read More: Running 4 Miles A Day: How To, Benefits, And Risks
Better Sleep Quality
Running has also been linked to better sleep quality. Experts acknowledge that when you exercise using a running routine, you fall asleep faster and sleep soundly throughout the night (8).
So, if you have not been able to sleep well over the last couple of days, lace up and run for a few miles. However, before you do this, make sure you get the go-ahead from your doctor. Again, talk to your doctor if you are battling sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea.
Running is one of the best exercises to perform for weight loss (5). Since you are continuously moving, you move your bodyweight a lot, burning more calories. Similarly, you use many of your large muscle groups when running, which gives them a thorough workout.
Again, fitness experts reveal that this activity helps your body burn more calories than low aerobic activities like walking (5). It can, therefore, help you create and maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss.
Running also promotes weight loss by boosting your metabolism (5). Metabolism is the process whereby your body converts the food and drinks you consume into energy. A faster metabolism helps you burn more calories even at rest.
Similarly, running can help suppress appetite, which in turn reduces your appetite and eating patterns. However, despite this, you can obtain contradictory results if you consume high-calorie foods after performing this activity.
To help obtain and sustain healthy and effective weight loss, experts suggest combining exercise with a healthy diet (5). So, it means you will have to make some lifestyle changes to help you attain sustainable weight loss results.
For example, you can ditch the unhealthy, junk, and high-calorie foods and replace them with healthy high volume low-calorie foods. You can also consume fewer food portions to help limit the number of calories that you consume.
You can never miss such suggestions amongst running weight loss tips. After all, there is a saying that nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. So, talk to your nutritionist and let them know of your dietary patterns.
They may tune or elevate them to help you lead a healthier lifestyle for faster and optimal weight loss. However, despite this insight, you need to consult with a professional about the best weight loss program that specifically meets your needs. If they recommend running, be sure to consult your trainer further for more details, for example, safe mileage.
Is It Safe To Run 5 Miles A Day To Lose Weight?
A lot has been said about running for weight loss. We could create a list of the most common debates about how to run for weight loss. As a result of the many opinions on this concept, there have been several myths and misconceptions.
Before we reveal if a daily run of five miles a day is safe, let us first look at some of these myths.
Myth 1: Distance Does Not Make A Difference In Weight Loss
Fact: Distance does impact weight loss. Long-distance running has the potential for faster weight loss because it offers a more timeline to burn calories. It means that if you cover a shorter distance, you limit your body to burning fewer calories (8).
This brings in another common debate: “Should you run long distances or short distances for weight loss?” If there is anything we have learned about weight loss, variety is vital in your workouts.
You must always vary and mix up your routines for more effective and sustainable results. Involve long and short-distance running, sprints and even HIITs to prevent you from falling into a weight loss plateau (8).
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Myth 2: You Must Run Five Miles A Day, Three Days A Week, To Lose Weight
Fact: Weight loss comes down to the calorie-burning concept. For weight loss to occur, your body must burn more calories than you are consuming. You may even burn more calories when you run a mile and still trigger weight loss.
So, do not tie yourself down to this standard. However, generally, we all know that the more miles you cover, the more calories you shed, hence faster weight loss.
Myth 3: By Starting A Running Routine, You Are Bound To Lose Weight
Fact: You could never be wrong. Yes, exercise helps with weight management, but running does not always guarantee weight loss. But, again, weight loss is all about burning more calories than you are consuming.
If, after running, you treat yourself to high-calorie foods and sugary drinks and foods, you will tip the scale in the wrong direction. So, as much as you are running for weight loss, you also have to make dietary changes.
However, it would help if you did not make any dietary changes without consulting your doctor and nutritionist. They must be involved to validate that the dietary changes are not too strenuous and that they meet your dietary, calorie, and medical requirements.
Myth 4: You Lose Fat At The Fat-Burning Zone
Fact: Sorry, but you cannot target when you lose fat. According to WebMD, fat loss has more to do with genetics, which is why you cannot lose fat in one area as most people desire (1). If you are looking to lose weight, experts suggest you increase the intensity of your workouts instead of when you burn fat (8).
Myth 5: No Pain, No Gain!
Fact: Regardless of your mileage, there are high chances that you will experience some discomfort and fatigue. It can happen, especially if it is your first time working out or increasing your workout intensity. A little discomfort or muscle soreness is okay and expected.
However, unfortunately, most people mistake pain for results. The belief is that to be in better shape, one has to experience some discomfort of some sort. After all, that is how you know your body is reacting to your training program and benefiting from it (6).
Fitness experts have termed this a fallacy that often gets most people hurt and injured (6). However, they acknowledge that you experience muscle soreness because of overtraining larger body muscles like the quads (6).
It can also be a result of an intense routine. However, when you find yourself hobbling in pain after practice, you have most likely overworked your muscles beyond usual. At this point, you are at a high risk of getting injured (6).
So the expression that if you are not experiencing pain, you are not working hard enough is a myth. So, stick to what your instructor recommends.
Read More: How To Start Running At 50: Dos And Don’ts
Myth 6: Running On An Empty Stomach Helps You Burn More Calories
Fact: Well, that may not be the case. Running on an empty stomach means you have lower glycogen reserves. It would help if you had enough as they are your primary fuel source. But, again, when you do not eat before running, you will most likely overeat and not create a calorie deficit for weight loss.
Evidence shows that eating before exercise helps you burn more carbs during your exercise program (4). Similarly, evidence also suggests that taking breakfast before running can help with digestion after your running routine (4).
So, do not skip breakfast if you are running in the morning. Likewise, have pre-workout meals if you are running in the afternoon or evening. But, again, note that your pre-workout meals differ depending on your goals.
High-protein foods are recommended if you are performing a strength training routine. However, a carb diet is recommended if you engage in cardiovascular and resistance activities (7). Remember that there are different types of carbs; complex and simple.
Experts recommend complex carbs because, unlike simple carbs, they provide you with long-term sources of energy (7). Similarly, they also have lower glycemic index scores. Even so, note that they take longer to digest, which is why you must consume them two or three hours before your running routine (7). These complex carbs include oats, sweet potatoes, lentils, brown rice, and whole-grain bread (7).
Should You Run 5 Miles A Day To Lose Weight?
Running five miles a day can help with weight loss if you are maintaining a calorie deficit. But, as mentioned earlier, diet and exercise go hand in hand. So, watch what you eat and adhere to your running routine for faster results.
However, running five miles a day may not be the best approach for beginners. If you recently started a running routine, it would be best to gradually increase your mileage (8). So, you can start with two miles and then increase mileage as you become comfortable and build endurance.
Again, running five miles a day may not be convenient for older individuals. In addition, it may be an unrealistic goal, so seniors are also advised to start slow and increase mileage down the line if needed.
Still, on the same, running five miles a day for weight loss may not be the best approach for pregnant women. Instead, some pregnant women may want to shed pounds using a running routine.
However, covering five miles may be too much for them. The best approach would be working with a trainer to determine a safer limit. Do not start a running routine or any other weight loss program for that matter without consulting your doctor if you are pregnant (8).
Again, you do not have to run every day. You can run for three days and then rest on the others. On the flip side, it is okay for a seasoned runner to run five miles a day. However, if you have sustained an injury, it would be best to reduce the mileage until you feel better.
As we can see from all these, running for weight loss is okay. However, the mileage differs depending on several factors such as age and health status. So, be sure to talk to your doctor first before trying out any running routine.
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How Much Weight Do You Lose Running 5 Miles A Day?
Completing five miles a day is an incredible achievement, and you should be proud of yourself. The thousands of steps you have taken reward you with fat loss. However, note that there is no standard weight loss limit after covering such mileage.
The weight you lose after running five miles varies depending on your current weight, age, gender, running pace, and basal metabolic rate (2). To lose a pound and a half (0.7 kgs) in a week, you must be burning 500 to 750 calories (2).
It is not as easy as it sounds because other factors also come into play. These include factors like your nutrition, sleep quality, and activity levels. You can be sure you are burning more calories for weight loss by increasing your running pace and maintaining a calorie deficit.
However, if you want a more solid answer, you can calculate the calories you burn by multiplying 0.75 with your body weight (in pounds). The answer you get equals the calories you burn per mile.
Note that you might not lose tremendous weight as you may desire throughout your weight loss journey. It could be because of factors like your genes, age, sleeping patterns, or because you reached a weight loss plateau.
So, do not always rely on the scale as it can highly contribute to your demotivation. Instead, you are advised to stay dedicated to your running routine, eat healthily, lead a healthy lifestyle, and consult your trainer if you suspect you have reached a plateau. They will recommend a new running program that will challenge your muscles and help fight the plateau.
Is Running 5 Miles A Day An Effective Weight Loss Plan?
Based on what we discussed about running for weight loss, it is safe to say that it is effective. After all, it is helping you burn more calories to help create and maintain a calorie deficit.
However, you need to know that although it is effective, it may not be the best weight loss program for everyone (2). You will only keep the weight at bay if you consistently implement a weight loss program that works for you. So, avoid following your friend’s or sibling’s running weight loss routine.
But again, unfortunately, running is not everyone’s cup of tea or stronghold. You find that some people start a running routine because they have heard of its effectiveness and not because they enjoy the activity.
Down the line, they end up giving up because the routine is more of a punishment than an activity they enjoy. If not, they may force themselves to keep up but sustain several injuries due to a lack of interest in the correct running form. So, we suggest that you avoid going with the crowd or giving it to the hype when looking for a weight loss program.
Instead, choose an activity you can stick to because weight loss is characterized by dedication and consistency. Consistency and dedication are a product of fun. If you do not enjoy running, then chances are you will not keep up with a running routine for long.
The Bottom Line
You can lose weight if you run five miles a day, but you also have to make other healthier lifestyle changes. The number one myth is that running automatically helps you shed pounds. Unfortunately, it may not be the case if you still adopt unhealthy habits.
However, you must check in with your doctor first before following any running weight loss program. Running is a demanding activity, and professionals must assess if you are fit for the task. Again, they must validate that this is the best weight loss program for you.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Can You Really Control Where You Lose fat? (2021, webmd.com)
- Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- High blood pressure (Hypertension) (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- How does eating before a workout affect the body? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Run for a healthier life (2020, health.harvard.edu)
- The 5 most commonly believed fitness myths (that are holding you back) (2018, nbcnews.com)
- What to eat before a workout to lose weight and build muscle (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about exercise and how to start (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)