Running has little effect on weight loss, but it has other health benefits

Running has little effect on weight loss, but it has other health benefits

What exactly is the correlation between running and weight loss?

New research shows that running helps with weight loss – but only up to a point. However, the silver lining is that regular running can prevent fat gain or weight gain.

Researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland have published these findings in the journal BOUNDARIES.

While evidence shows that running is an effective way to maintain healthy fat mass, that doesn’t mean that an all-out regimen is the best way to stay fit.

Instead, a balanced approach – one that combines endurance activities such as running with strength or resistance training – is preferable, according to Simon Walker, a lead study author and an academic researcher at the university.

“For the general population who want to do a little bit of both, two to three sessions each of endurance and resistance training each week is probably a very good recommendation overall,” Walker, an assistant professor of exercise physiology in the Faculty of Sports and Health. Science at the university, he said Medical News Today.

“Frequent exercise sessions of four to six times a week are also very effective for reducing body fat – much better than splashing yourself twice a week and not doing much for the rest of the week,” he added. .

Strength vs. Endurance

The researchers drew on data from larger cohort studies that analyzed younger (20-39 years) and older (70-89 years) physically active men. Competitive sprinters, runners and strength athletes, along with non-competitive but still active men, were all counted.

Walker said he and his colleagues had predicted that strength athletes would have more muscle mass and that endurance athletes would have low body fat with lower muscle mass. While the data proved this to be true, he said it was somewhat surprising that most of the endurance athletes – even in the oldest group – still had muscle mass above the sarcopenia threshold, meaning that distance running was enough to keep runners above par. which can lead to lower performance.

While that’s a nod to the health benefits of running — and perhaps its underappreciated role in maintaining muscle mass — Walker said a more balanced approach is still the best way to go when it comes to overall health.

“High-volume and/or high-intensity running has been shown to moderate muscle mass gains, while other forms of endurance such as cycling and rowing do not appear to have a negative effect,” he explained. “But for most people who run two to three times a week, there will be no ‘interference effect’, so the fear is overblown. However, even in those athletes who do not and do not want to gain muscle mass from resistance training, they still improve their muscle force production capacity and improve their running performance.”

Starting and maintaining habits

Running can help maintain muscle mass and strength training can help increase muscle mass – but for this to be effective, the body needs fuel.

“It’s essential to make sure you’re consuming enough calories, because if you’re not consuming enough for the activity you’re doing, then you actually start to break down muscle instead of building it, even though you’re exercising. Dr. Tracy Zaslow, a primary care sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and a team physician for Angel City Soccer Club and the LA Galaxy Soccer Team, said Medical News Today.

To get started on the right track, Zaslow, who was not involved in the study, recommends following GUIDELINES defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that advises 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.

“So let’s say you spend your 150 minutes on a five-day workout. It’s 30 minutes for each of your five days,” Zaslow explained. “You’d want three days of endurance training and two days of strength training, and that combination would be a really good standard protocol to follow to build or maintain that muscle mass while also maintaining lean body mass and cardiovascular fitness. “

In addition to the CDC guidelines, Walker points to the Principles of Sports Training as another helpful protocol to follow. These guidelines are overload, reversibility, progression, individualization, periodization, and specificity.

“As our study showed, consistent lifestyle behavior led to specific body composition in our athletes and physically active controls,” he said. “Some goals can be achieved in a few weeks, but some take years. For true health benefits, exercise must be a part of our lives consistently, in whatever form the person chooses.”

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