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Here's How Long You Need To Run Every Day for Weight Loss

We're breaking down how long you should run to lose weight and the benefits of this form of cardio.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Running is one of the most effective exercises for boosting metabolism, enhancing calorie burn, and getting into shape. If you're considering running as a tool to lose weight, you've come to the right place. We're addressing the question of how long you need to run every day for weight loss and diving deep into the benefits of this popular form of cardio.

The versatility and accessibility of going on a run can't be beaten, and you're not confined to long, monotonous runs to see results. Implementing variety into your routine can be enjoyable and productive, whether you're conquering hills, embracing interval or HIIT-style sessions, or opting for a treadmill workout indoors. Suffice it to say that running offers endless opportunities to keep your fitness journey fresh and rewarding.

Now, let's discuss how long you should run to see noticeable results. Once we cover that, I'll share a couple of sample workouts that are enjoyable and effective. Time to lace up!

How long you need to run every day to lose weight depends on your current weight, metabolism, diet, and fitness level.

close-up woman running

The amount of time you should run daily for weight loss depends on your current weight, metabolism, diet, and overall fitness level. Running can be an effective way to torch excess calories and contribute to weight loss, but it's not just about the duration of your run; the intensity and consistency also play crucial roles.

You typically need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight, which means burning more calories than you consume. Running can help make this deficit, but combining it with a balanced diet and strength training is essential.

A general guideline is to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for weight loss, which translates to about 30 minutes daily, five days a week. However, if your goal is significant weight loss, you may need to increase both the duration and intensity of your runs.

Getting creative with your runs can help enhance your weight-loss efforts. For instance, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be practical for burning calories quickly. These workouts involve alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and rest or lower-intensity periods. Incorporating HIIT into your running routine can help you maximize calorie burn in a shorter time frame.

No matter your method, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your runs is crucial for effective progression and avoiding injury.

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The benefits of running for weight loss:

senior fitness group running outdoors

Running offers a wealth of benefits, extending far beyond the simple joy of being outdoors and breathing in fresh air. One of its greatest strengths is its adaptability. Whether you choose to run on a treadmill or in the great outdoors, the choice is yours.

You're not limited to a single style of running, either. You can opt for long-distance runs, interval runs, or even sprints. On a treadmill, you can adjust the incline to increase the challenge, or you can tackle a hill outside to ramp up the intensity. The power is in your hands.

Beyond adaptability, running is effective for burning calories and helping you reach your weight-loss goals. Here are my top four benefits of running for weight loss:

1. It boosts your metabolism.

Regular running can enhance your metabolism at rest and during physical activity. Simply put, running makes you an efficient metabolism machine. This effect can help aid in long-term weight management.

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2. It burns calories.

Running stands out as a vigorous cardiovascular workout, torching a notable amount of calories. The calorie expenditure hinges on variables such as pace, duration, and exertion level, making it a reliable method to establish a calorie deficit. My advice is to switch it up! Whether you change your routine every four to six weeks or use varying running workouts throughout the week, this change in stimulus helps burn even more calories!

3. It targets fat loss.

Running targets fat stores for energy, making it an effective way to reduce body fat percentage and enhance body composition. Consistent running, combined with a balanced diet, hydration, and a proper recovery plan, can lead to noticeable fat loss over time.

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4. It improves your overall fitness.

As your endurance and stamina improve with running, you can exercise for longer durations and at higher intensities, further enhancing weight-loss efforts. This means you'll be able to run longer or harder for those sprint workouts. You'll be able to handle and maintain higher intensity levels during all running workouts, leading to more positive effects for weight loss.

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Sample running workouts for weight loss:

fit middle-aged woman running outdoors, concept of how to lose weight after 40

Here are two running workout examples that you can easily incorporate into your fitness routine:

Steady-State Session

This workout centers around maintaining a moderate-intensity pace for an extended duration. The goal is to increase the duration each week to foster continued improvement gradually. Focus on sustaining a consistent effort level throughout the run.

  • Warm-up: Begin with five minutes of brisk walking or light jogging to prepare your muscles and joints for the main workout.
  • Main workout: Run at a steady pace for 30 to 60 minutes. Aim to maintain a consistent speed that feels challenging but sustainable.
  • Cool-down: Finish with five minutes of walking to gradually lower your heart rate and allow your muscles to recover. Follow up with five to 10 minutes of stretching major muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and hip flexors.

HIIT-based Running Workout

You'll engage in HIIT in this workout. Alternate between bursts of high-intensity running and periods of low-intensity recovery. Push yourself during the high-intensity segments, then use the low-intensity periods to catch your breath and prepare for the next high-intensity interval.

  • Warm-up: Start with five minutes of light jogging or dynamic stretches to prepare your body for the intense intervals.
  • Sprint intervals: Sprint at maximum effort for 30 seconds. Recover by walking or jogging slowly for one minute. Repeat the sprint-recovery cycle for eight to 10 rounds.
  • Cool-down: Conclude with five minutes of walking or slow jogging to lower your heart rate gradually. Finish with static stretching, holding each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, targeting major muscle groups.
Jarrod Nobbe
Jarrod Nobbe is a USAW National Coach, Sports Performance Coach, Personal Trainer, and writer, and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 12 years. Read more about Jarrod
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