While any form of exercise can help you burn calories and lose weight — including shedding stubborn belly fat — there's nothing simpler than running. After all, you don't need a gym membership to lace up your sneakers and head outside, nor do you have to worry about working out on someone else's schedule. But if you want to see results, you'll need to be disciplined.
Steven McDaniels, an NASM-certified personal trainer and director of fitness and recreation at Beacon College in Leesburg, FL, recommends working your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five days a week. From there, you can kick up the intensity, which will help you burn more calories. "For a beginner, this may mean you start out by briskly walking, to jogging, and then running," Steven told POPSUGAR.
Once you're comfortable running, you can adjust the length of your workout based on your fitness level and weight. "If you're already physically active, you'll need to do higher intensity running to burn more calories," Steven said. "Those new to fitness and running will burn calories more easily because the body isn't used to the activity." So someone who's fairly fit may try a short, HIIT-based workout, while those just starting out would aim for a longer endurance run.
Generally speaking, the more you weigh, the more calories you'll burn — yet another factor to consider when planning your workouts. To lose one pound of fat each week, you'll need to burn 3,500 calories. To give you a sense of how that plays out, here's how many calories a 145-pound woman would burn on a run, depending on her fitness level:
- Beginner: Running at about five miles per hour (roughly a 12-minute mile pace) for 30 minutes would burn approximately 250 calories. Running for 60 minutes would burn approximately 500 calories.
- Intermediate: Running at about six miles per hour (roughly a 10-minute mile pace) for 30 minutes would burn approximately 315 calories. Running for 60 minutes would burn approximately 630 calories.
- Advanced: Running at about seven miles per hour (roughly an 8-1/2-minute mile pace) for 30 minutes would burn approximately 370 calories. Running for 60 minutes would burn approximately 740 calories.
As you continue to run, your body will get more efficient at it, which will result in a slower calorie burn. Make sure to increase the intensity of your runs to combat this, and work in regular strength training, which will help target large muscles groups in the body to expend energy and, in turn, burn calories more steadily.