No gym? No problem. We've got your plan for jogging off 10 lbs—all you need to do is open your front door and go!

Lainey Younkin, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
June 08, 2020
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Let's cut to the chase: diet trumps exercise when it comes to weight loss. To put it another way, what you eat is more important than your workout routine. But if you aren't moving at all, or your current workout isn't working, jogging can help you lose weight and also has lots of other health benefits. Here, we break down how to get started, the benefits of jogging, common challenges and provide detailed plans that can be adapted for your fitness level.

Benefits of jogging

Jogging is defined as running at a pace of less than 6 miles per hour. It's affordable and convenient. Aside from buying shoes and some workout clothes (which you probably already have), it doesn't cost a thing. It's a time saver too—think of the time you spend commuting to the gym, doing a one-hour workout class, and then commuting home. To go jogging, all you need to do is open your front door and go (although some warm-up exercises and stretches will help)! You could get the same workout in less than half the time.

Research studies don't always differentiate between running and jogging but both are linked to better cardiovascular health, improved blood sugar control and insulin resistance, decreased stress, lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels, improved mood, reduced cortisol, anxiety, and depression, and longer life.

In addition, exercise is key for keeping off weight long term. A 2009 meta-analysis found that compared to only changing diet for weight loss, in studies where people changed diet and exercise, they lost more weight and kept it off longer (think: 2 years). Read more about if you need to exercise to lose weight.

The more weight you lose, the fewer calories you need, and continuing to cut calories over time isn't sustainable (find out what happens to your metabolism when you lose weight). That's where exercise comes in—both cardio and strength. Cardio workouts like jogging, swimming, and biking can burn 300-600 calories an hour. Strength training—either with weights or using body weight—builds muscle and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Plus, you'll start to lose inches and tone up even if the scale doesn't budge.

Jogging and weight loss

How many calories you burn while jogging depends on how fast you're going, your weight, and other factors. But on average, a 155-pound person jogging at 5.2 mph for 30 minutes will burn about 335 calories. Contrast that with walking 4.5 mph, which burns 186 calories in 30 minutes. Pick up the pace and you can burn almost twice as many calories.

Challenges you may face

Weight loss isn't just about eating less and burning more calories though—this reductionist messaging has failed many and led to yo-yo dieting and unhealthy relationships with food, body and the scale.

When people say they want to lose weight, what most are seeking is to lose fat and feel better in their clothes and body. Slow and steady jogging is, unfortunately, not the most efficient way to do this.

To boost the burn and blast fat faster, up the intensity during parts of your jog. Go for an all out sprint and then jog, alternating for part or all of your run. Run up and down hills instead of on flat ground. Running hills for 15 minutes will have you gasping for more air than a slow and steady jog for 30 minutes. And it burns fat faster through a mechanism called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or the "afterburn." The intense workout depletes the body's oxygen stores and building the stores back up requires energy, which means you can burn calories for about 24 hours after the workout.

Think about it this way, when you jog for 30 minutes, you burn calories during the run, but when you up the intensity by doing sprints, intervals, or hills, you burn calories during the run, plus continue burning calories for the 24 hours afterwards (yes, even if you're sitting around!).

EPOC also happens after strength training, plus you build muscle, which takes up less space than fat so you start to tone up even if you don't see weight loss on the scale.

A 2013 meta-analysis showed that aerobic exercise, like jogging, decreased visceral fat, the dangerous in the abdomen, in people who were overweight or obese, with no change in diet. Moderate to vigorous exercise burned more visceral fat than low-intensity aerobic exercise or strength training.

Another potential hurdle of jogging for weight loss is that it may make you hungry later on in the day and depending on what you choose to eat, could undo your good efforts. However, other studies have found that hunger is suppressed during and after exercise through its effects on the hunger hormones, ghrelin and peptide YY. More research is needed to assess the role between aerobic exercise, resistance training, hunger hormones, and appetite.

Your plan to jog off 10 pounds

If you haven't been running or jogging in a long time start slow and adapt this plan to work for you. Maybe the first week, or the first few weeks, is all walking. Listen to your body as you go and don't push yourself too hard. The idea is to find something you can stick with long term. Try this sample weekly exercise plan to help you jog more and lose weight. A realistic weight-loss goal would be about 1 pound per week, so you'll need to devote at least 10 weeks to jogging and eating healthy to see changes.

Monday

Warm up: 5 minutes walking or light cardio

Jog: 30 minutes

Cool down: 5 minutes walking

Calorie burn:* 391

Boost the burn: Jog for 15 minutes on flat ground and 15 minutes on hills

Tuesday

Warm up: 5 minutes walking or light cardio

Jog: 10 minutes

Cool down: 5 minutes walking

Calorie burn: 168

Boost the burn: Do 30 minutes of weight lifting for an additional 112 calories burned, plus the calories burned due to EPOC

Wednesday

Rest day, stretching, or light yoga

Thursday

Warm up: jog for 5 minutes

Jog - interval day: Sprint for one minute, followed by 1-2 minute walk, repeat for 15 minutes

Cool down: 5-10 minutes walking

Calorie burn: 187

Boost the burn: This HIIT workout burns additional calories through EPOC (they're just hard to measure!)

Friday

Warm up: 5 minutes walking or light cardio

Jog: 30 minutes

Cool down: 5 minutes walking

Calorie burn:* 391

Boost the burn: Jog for 15 minutes on flat ground and 15 minutes on hills

Weekend

Rest one day

Add fun movement another day. Try a spin class, hiking, dancing or a walk.

*Calories burned based on 155-pound person

Bottom line

You need a calorie deficit for weight loss and jogging is an affordable, accessible way to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Work smarter not harder by jogging up hills, doing intervals, and adding strength training to increase the number of calories burned in the 24 hours following your jog. Remember you don't need to jog every day—include days of walking, as well as rest days. Oh, and don't forget to watch what you eat. Healthy diets are important for so many reasons—so load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats and proteins.