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How Much You Should Run a Day to Lose Weight

April 20, 2022

Running is a great sport because it requires little equipment or investment to get going: a pair of shoes and you’re off.   Done correctly and consistently, running burns calories efficiently - about 255 calories per 30 minutes - and is useful as part of a weight loss program. The amount of time you will need to run to lose weight depends on a series of factors that include how much you eat, how much you can run without injury and how often you can perform the exercise.

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General guidelines for adult exercise recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This looks like 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. But losing weight has less to do with how much exercise you do and more with the combination of diet, lifestyle, and exercise that produce a calorie deficit.   

To lose weight, the calories you take in should be less than the calories you burn. You can use a calorie deficit calculator, like this one to help design your program. In addition, the quality of calories is as important as the quantity. Beginning a training program does not necessarily mean that you will lose weight automatically or you have the green light to eat unhealthy foods. 

At the beginning, run between 30 and 45 minutes with your heart rate between 60% and 70% of your maximum heart rate (220 - age = MHR) for 3 or 4 times a week, include other forms of exercise like walking, hiking, weight lifting, yoga, or pilates to keep things interesting. Check out  The Best Cardio for Weight Loss for other exercise ideas.

Published studies have revealed that runners who run at a higher speed for a few minutes and then reduce the intensity without completely stopping, burn more calories than runners who run at a constant speed at low intensity. The human body gets used to almost anything so the key is to combine time and intensity. Low-intensity sessions for longer duration and high-intensity sessions less duration. 

Person in a hat and windbreaker running up stairs outdoors


How long will it take to see the results?


Most experts agree that losing fat slowly is the best approach. Losing weight too fast can be dangerous to your health and cause you to rebound. Lose 1% of your body weight per week to avoid a rebound effect. Long-term results are more important than results after 1 day or 1 week. Also, remember when you start exercising you build muscle mass often making the scale jump. So your weight loss may be lower, or not at all but your fat percentage decreases.


Additional help and information


If you’re just starting your running journey, check out this article: How to Start Running for Beginners which includes a 10 week plan to take you from sedentary to active by guiding you to a goal of running 30 minutes straight. 

Check out answers to the most popular questions asked of personal trainers:

For personalized information, specific to your body and lifestyle, talk to one of our Fitness Experts. Get customized advice by submitting a request in our Mavyn app or Mavyn Fitness page.