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There’s a reason runners have hot bodies. It takes a ton of effort to move your body weight without assistance, which is why running burns more calories per minute than pretty much any other exercise.
The average 65 kg woman who runs at a six-minute kilometre pace for an hour burns over 500 calories. Compare that to an hour of walking (224cal), pilates (382cal) or swimming (450cal). Better yet, because running is a high impact activity, it sheds body fat to reveal lean muscle below. Pounding the pavement can also get you healthier. Countless studies show running can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and even cancer.
Running also improves your mental health. A 2008 study found that areas in the brain associated with mood are flooded with feel-good endorphins after running. Ditch the beginners’ nerves; believe it or not, as your arms, legs and breathing fall into a rhythm, your brain is eventually lulled into a meditative ‘no-stress zone’ in which bills and bosses fade away. Ahhh...
Knowledge is power. The more you know about training, nutrition and health, the better you’ll be at getting the most from your running, whether that means fitness, weight loss, great race performances or just plain fun. Use these useful tips from the experts to help you reach your goals.
Advice from the experts
"The biggest mistake that new runners make is that they tend to think in mile increments – one mile, two miles, three miles. Beginning runners need to think in minutes, not miles.”
– Budd Coates, four-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier/coach.
“Further is not necessarily better – running makes you feel good. When you feel good you want to keep pushing, especially as a beginner. But you need to work on short frequent runs, not fewer, longer runs.”
– Diane Hanley, head trainer and running coach at Learn 2 Jog
"Relax to the max. “When running, let your jaw hang loose, don’t bunch up your shoulders close to your ears, and occasionally shake out your hands and arms to stay relaxed.”
– Dave Martin, Ph.D., exercise physiologist.
"Pace yourself: Don’t rush off at the start of the race or you’ll burn out before the end. Remember, adrenalin will carry you along faster than you may have thought.”
- Former Australian Olympic marathon runner, Steve Moneghetti.
“I stopped playing the post-workout martyr and started eating in the 30-minute refuel window, and I haven’t had ‘dead legs’ since.”
– Naomi Cook, triathlete.
“A good pair of running shoes should last you 400 to 500 kilometres and is one of the most critical purchases you will make.”
- John Hanc, author of The Essential Runner.
“Just five minutes of stretching after your runs is enough to maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints – and prevent tight muscles, which can lead to inefficient form and injuries. Use a foam roller to loosen up your shoulders, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and outer thighs/iliotibial bands.”
– Jenny Hadfield, co-author of Running for Mortals.
“Go for the goal. I believe in using races as motivators. It’s hard to keep on an exercise program if you don’t have a significant goal in sight.”
– Bob Greene, personal trainer of Oprah Winfrey.