Monday, 24 June 2013

The Ugly Truth About Running

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Most people take up running as a form of exercise for weight loss and health purpose. Every morning and evening, we can see people running religiously around the neighbourhood, park or beach. Some people simply loves to run and some runs for the sake of losing the extra weight that they carry.

Some people start running because it’s the most convenient form of exercise. You just need to slip on a pair of running shoes and start pounding the hard surface. So, you might be thinking, is running really the best form of exercise? Many does not evaluate on their fitness level before they start running. Mostly are not physically strong enough to run properly and it’s them more harm than good. 

Slow down motion of running and you can see that it’s more of a jump exercise or plyometric exercise. During the running process, all weight are put on one foot and then pushed off to lift your entire body off the ground, switching legs and land on the other foot. In short, running forces all the weight on one foot at a time repeatedly depending on the distance you run.

All these force being applied to the joint of your legs can cause injuries to your foot, ankle and knees. Our joints are not built to handle such forceful repetitive stress. When you run, our muscles, tendon and ligament requires lots of support and it is stressful for those who are not in good shape to handle such repetitive torture.

At this point you might be thinking, is this for real? I’ve been losing weight and feeling great from running and now you are telling me that it’s bad. The truth is, when you starts running, your body will burn more calories. But come to a certain point of time, your body will starts burning less calories.
Our body has the ability to adapt so that our body does not have to expend as much energy. The more you run, your body adapts and gets more efficient in conserving energy, burning less calories. So, to burn the same amount of calories or more, you will need to either increase the distance you run or increase the speed of your runs.

Apart from the injury to the joints and weight loss reaching a plateau, running especially long distance, causes your body to lose lean muscle mass which is the body’s no 1 calorie burner. 

(Less lean muscle mass = Less calorie burned + Decreased strength)

I’m not stating that running is bad. But it should be done sparingly or until you have gotten strong enough to sustain the kind of force that running generates.

I would rather do short burst of sprints followed by rest and recovery to allow your muscles, tendons and ligaments to recover. This way during the short burst, less pressure is exerted to your joints and followed by rest and recovery. You can repeat this process as many times as you want, but a good 20 minutes should be suffice. These sprints should also be done on softer surface such as grass. Those who just start out should take more time to develop and build up the strength for these sprints.

Another point is performing full-body exercise. It helps to build lean muscle mass that increases your ability to burn more calories. You will find that it is more effective that only running as you get fitter and leaner. Check out my post about Burpee – the monster of allintensity workouts.

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