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3 Ways Running Can Help You Burn Belly Fat and Lose Weight

Running is an incredibly popular and accessible form of exercise that ranks as one of the most effective ways to burn calories. In addition to managing weight, there are numerous health benefits attributed to running. These include reducing the risk of heart disease by up to 45%[1], strengthening knee tissue[2] and lowering blood sugar levels[3]. For any individual looking to prioritise their health and well-being while aiming to keep their weight under control, running makes an excellent choice of exercise.

This article explains three ways how running can help you with your weight loss and health journey.

Running Burns More Calories Than Most Exercises

Generally, if you want to reduce body fat, you should follow a calorie deficit diet. This means you must consume fewer calories than your body expends.

Running is one of the most efficient exercises for burning calories. A Harvard study cited running as being as effective in burning calories as ice hockey and swimming[4]. This is because running works many of your muscles simultaneously, creating the need for more energy. Take a look below at how different exercises compare to burning calories.

Exercise (30 minutes)  Calories Burned
125-Pound Person 155-Pound Person 185-Pound Person
Walking: 3.5 mph (17 min/mi) 107 133 159
Badminton: general 114 141 168
Tennis: general 210 252 294
Volleyball: competitive, gymnasium play 226 281 335
Hockey: field & ice 240 288 336
Football: touch, flag, general 240 288 336
Running: 5 mph (12 min/mile) 240 288 336

Can Running Help Lose Belly Fat and to Lose love Handles

Running is recognised as one of the best ways to target and reduce belly fat and fat accumulated at the waist (love handles). Most experts recommend working up to running 30 - 60 minutes a day, 4 - 5 days a week for optimal results[5]. However, be sure to consult with your doctor to ensure a running weight-loss regimen is suited for you.

Running Can Act as a Calorie Suppressant

Various studies have cited running as a natural appetite suppressor with lasting effects of up to 3-9[6] hours. Researchers are still unclear about the reasoning behind this, but some have attributed it to ghrelin, a hunger hormone[7]. When running, this hormone is suppressed while more satiety hormones are produced.  The effects of natural appetite suppression have been noted for its usefulness as a form of prevention for overeating. A recent study found that when participants exercised for 60 minutes, their risk of overeating dropped to 5%[8].

To Run or Not to Run: Is Running for Weight Loss for You?

Running is a superb form of exercise. It is accessible, doesn't require equipment and can burn a good proportion of calories. The benefits also extend far beyond burning calories. Running can be an indispensable tool for your general well-being.

Health Benefits of Running

  • Helps Prevent Cataracts[9]
  • Helps Prevent Knee Damage and Knee Pain[10]
  • Lowers Blood Sugar[11]
  • Reduce Heart Disease Risk[12]

Despite the numerous health benefits, be sure to practice caution before adopting any new form of exercise. If you are suffering from a medical condition or injury, it is highly advised you contact your local practitioner before making any changes to your exercise regimen. A consultation with your practitioner can help ensure you possess the correct running technique and find ways to integrate running into your lifestyle based on your needs appropriately.

Tips for Running for Weight Loss

  • If you decide to incorporate running into your fitness journey, be sure to practice proper running form to avoid injuries. 
  • Ensure you are wearing the correct shoes and clothing to prevent the risk of injury.
  • Warm-up before running to lower your risk of injury, activate your muscles and increase the range of movement in your joints.
  • Ensure you are observing a healthy diet to notice the full effects of your workouts.
  • Listen to your body. You shouldn’t run if you’re feeling exhausted, unwell or in pain. Be sure to consult a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to the simplicity and convenience running offers, it makes an excellent tool for weight loss and health optimisation.

In addition to its ability to help reduce belly fat, its vast number of additional benefits such as possibly suppressing appetite, boosting mood and increasing longevity makes it an effective exercise to try out.

For more information on running, explore our knowledge base to find the various types of common running injuries, ways you can prevent running injuries, and new methods of running that could potentially optimise your performance.

Consult with one of our practitioners today to understand how running can benefit your lifestyle.

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  1. Lee, D., Pate, R., Lavie, C., Sui, X., Church, T. and Blair, S., 2014. Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk:. [online] Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  2. Urquhart, D., Tobing, J., Hanna, F., Berry, P., Wluka, A., Ding, C. and Cicuttini, F., 2011. What is the effect of physical activity on the knee joint? A systematic review. [online] National Library of Medicine. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  3. Cartee, G., Young, D., Sleeper, M., Zierath, J., Wallberg-Henriksson, H. and Holloszy, J., 1989. Prolonged increase in insulin-stimulated glucose transport in muscle after exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 256(4), pp.E494-E499.
  4. Harvard Health. 2021. Calories burned in 30 minutes of leisure and routine activities - Harvard Health. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  5. n.d. How to lose belly fat by running | ASICS. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  6. Broom, D., Batterham, R., King, J. and Stensel, D., 2009. Influence of resistance and aerobic exercise on hunger, circulating levels of acylated ghrelin, and peptide YY in healthy males. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 296(1), pp.R29-R35.
  7. Broom, D., Stensel, D., Bishop, N., Burns, S. and Miyashita, M., 2007. Exercise-induced suppression of acylated ghrelin in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology, [online] 102(6), pp.2165-2171. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  8. Crochiere, R., Kerrigan, S., Lampe, E., Manasse, S., Crosby, R., Butryn, M. and Forman, E., 2020. Is physical activity a risk or protective factor for subsequent dietary lapses among behavioral weight loss participants?. Health Psychology, [online] 39(3), pp.240-244. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  9. WILLIAMS, P., 2013. Walking and Running are Associated with Similar Reductions in Cataract Risk. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, [online] 45(6), pp.1089-1096. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  10. Lo, G., Driban, J., Kriska, A., McAlindon, T., Souza, R., Petersen, N., Storti, K., Eaton, C., Hochberg, M., Jackson, R., Kent Kwoh, C., Nevitt, M. and Suarez-Almazor, M., 2017. Is There an Association Between a History of Running and Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis? A Cross-Sectional Study From the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Arthritis Care & Research, [online] 69(2), pp.183-191. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  11. Keshel, T., 2015. Exercise Training and Insulin Resistance: A Current Review. Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy, [online] s5. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
  12. Lee, D., Pate, R., Lavie, C., Sui, X., Church, T. and Blair, S., 2014. Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, [online] 64(5), pp.472-481. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].

Topics: Fitness & Active Health

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