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Running and Weight Loss

Despite what many inventors of best-selling fad diets would have the public believe, weight-loss is a simple issue. Burn more calories than you consume and you'll lose weight, and running happens to be one of the best and fastest ways to expend energy.

Although not a fast solution for weight loss, running is a very effective way to shed pounds; this transformation takes place over time and requires patience.

"That is probably one of the biggest problems that people have when starting any exercise," said Kevin Davis, a fitness specialist and personal trainer at Loyola University's Center for Health and Fitness in Maywood. "They don't see results right away, and so they quit."

In order to lose a pound, the body needs to burn about 3,500 calories. A 180-pound person running for five miles each day will lose around five pounds per month.

Starting weight plays a substantial role in how many calories are burned during a run, according to research from Elizabeth Sadler of Vanderbilt University. For example, a 220-pound man who goes for a two-mile run will burn about 150 calories, while a 120-pound woman will only burn 82.

Statistics from the Weight Loss Control Registry, a research group that studies people who have successfully lost weight and maintained their weight loss, point to the need to consistently burn 2,800 calories through exercise each week in order to successfully lose weight. Rather than fast, exhausting runs, weight loss at this level requires longer, slower runs about 25 to 30 minutes spaced three or four times throughout the week.

Running keeps your metabolism elevated for hours after your workout, meaning you burn more calories even while you're sitting at your desk at work or on the living room couch recovering from your run.

But hold on before you reach for that extra-jelly doughnut! Runners face a frustrating truth: Research has shown that the post-workout metabolic rate is elevated longer in untrained subjects. As you become more and more fit, you recover faster, so your post-workout metabolic rate returns to its resting level sooner, and you don't burn as many calories as your neighbor who runs only occasionally.

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