[Repost] Should Overweight People Run?

I start having knee problem during increasing my workout programs, so that I searched any references that forbid me to run.. there they are some references.. PMA!! positive mental attitude!


Q. I have recently started running, since I heard that it’s the best way to lose weight. But I’m heavy. Is it safe to run if I am overweight? Or should I lose weight first, or try another kind of exercise instead?

A. A common misconception is that heavy people should lose weight before they start to exercise. In fact, you should start to be more active, no matter what your weight is. You can reap immediate benefits from working out. Several landmark studies by Steven Blair, Ph.D., and others have shown that exercise can reduce your health risks tremendously, even if you are still fat. Exercising now, rather than later, is always a good idea, not just for the health benefits, but because you’ll have a healthy and more sustainable weight loss if you are exercising, too.

But how much and what type of exercise you should do if you are unfit and/or overweight deserves careful consideration. When it comes to weight loss and fitness, running is definitely one of the most effective activities around. That’s because it burns lots of calories for a given amount of time, compared with activities such as walking or cycling, and the effort is challenging—you work at a moderate to vigorous intensity, depending upon your speed, fitness level and/or environmental conditions (like running up hills).

Impact forces of walking and running

That said, running is a high-intensity workout with lots of impact on the joints. The more vertical motion that is added to the walk-run motion, the greater the impact to the joints as each foot lands from each forward step. But the style and the speed of running also affect levels of impact. A study in the journal Clinical Biomechanics analyzed the ground reaction forces of walking, slow jogging and running in men and women. On average, ground reaction forces increased linearly from about 1.2 times body weight when walking at around 2.7 mph to up to 2.5 times body weight when running at 5.6 mph.

Slower jogging was found to have greater amounts of impact and loading forces than faster running, believe it or not. That’s because the faster one runs, the less vertical the movement tends to become, since momentum helps propel the body forward, resulting in less lifting and lowering of the body. In addition, the length of your strides when walking or running and the frequency of your strides can also affect the impact your joints experience. A very long step may result in higher landing impact forces.

So running faster may be slightly easier on the joints than a bouncy jog. Of course, you have to be pretty fit to run fast. So if you are new to fitness and not a trained runner, this might not be an option.

Is impact unsafe?

But before assuming that running is, therefore, too hard on the joints, it’s important to step back and reflect on the bigger picture. Often, people assume that impact is “bad,” and so they conclude that greater amounts of impact are unsafe. This logically leads one to conclude that running is not safe since it’s a higher-impact activity. Some people also take this one step further and conclude that low-impact or even nonimpact activities such as an elliptical trainer or yoga are, therefore, better than a high-impact activity such as running.

What’s important to keep in mind is that bodies were designed for impact. The human body is structurally built to walk, run and jump. In theory, anyone of any age has the capacity to do so. On the other hand, bodies do not appear to be designed to twist into complex pretzel shapes—that’s why it takes yogis or dancers years to become flexible enough to get their joints into extreme ranges of motion.

The body thrives on some impact—especially bone cells. More and more research is elucidating the importance of impact forces to building and preserving bone mass. And jumping is better than walking, when it comes to bones.

That said, the body may not be designed to pound on concrete surfaces or for hours at a time (such as when running a marathon). One can train oneself to do these things, and get fitter and stronger in the process, but there may also be concurrent weakening in some physiological areas (such as the immune system) or biomechanical areas (chronic joint degradation).

How much impact can an overweight body handle?

The more weight that’s pounding on a joint, the more stress that joint experiences. A 350-pound person will experience much less knee strain from walking or running if he or she drops down to 250 or 200 pounds, for example. So, there’s a case to be made that heavier people should take it easy on the impact until they’ve built up to greater loads.

Many people, especially those carrying extra weight, have joint weaknesses in the ankles, knees and/or hips that may be exacerbated by running. It’s a good idea to get a qualified professional to evaluate the strength and integrity of your joints before embarking on a serious running program. A physical therapist or highly qualified personal trainer with training in biomechanics should be able to spot vulnerable areas. As a start, you might even have a friend watch what your legs do from behind as you run. Do your knees cave inwards? Do your feet splay out or do your ankles collapse? Do your hips tilt side to side? Any of these imbalances could lead to joint strain once you start doing vigorous activity. Often, all you need to do are corrective strengthening exercises to rectify your imbalances.

The best way to start running

If you’re not used to running, no matter what size or shape or fitness level you’re at, a smart way to train would be to start with fast walking. You can sneak very short jogging intervals in—start with 15 to 20 seconds at a time. Walk for three to five minutes in between bouts of jogging. Gradually add more time to your running increments. Over time (and I’m talking many months) build up to longer periods of running and longer total distances.

A general recommendation is to increase the amount, duration and intensity of any activity by no more than 5 percent per week. Exercise is a controlled dose of stress, and you should increase only when your body has adapted to a small overload. (This applies to all exercisers, undertaking any new activity, not just overweight, sedentary folks starting out.)

Other factors also affect joint loads. So make sure you are walking or running in a good pair of running shoes and choose softer surfaces (such as a treadmill or softer tracks instead of concrete sidewalks).

It’s always a good idea to do several kinds of activities—or to cross train. You develop better all-around fitness and minimize overuse stress to the body by doing too much of the same thing. So in addition to integrating a walk-run routine into your week, try the different cardio machines as well. My book, Cross-training for Dummies, gives you tips on how to vary your workouts.


You are overweight or obese, SO WHAT! I get sick and tired of hearing people tell me they wish they could run but they are too big. My other favorite excuse is “AFTER I lose some weight I am going to join a gym.”

Why wait? Years ago you learned to walk. After some time crawling, you pulled yourself up and took a first step. Well, it is that time again.

I am no running expert, just someone who enjoys it and wants to share. After several sedentary years, at 250 pounds (113.4 kilos), I decided it was time for my first step. I want to share what I’ve learned. Many of the tips below are going to be tips any beginner can use, but some are things I learned being a fat kid.

Go See Your Physician

If you have never been physically active you should get a physical to make sure you have no health risks that would prevent you from running. If you have been active and have just never thought you could run, you should be ok, but please make sure your family does not sue me if something happens to you.

Positive Mental Attitude

Also known as PMA is going to be the key to success above all else. There are going to be days you don’t want to exercise, but you need to get up and do it. Some days will make you tired and some days you will feel slow. We have all been through this, it gets better. It is not easy, but the accomplishment is worth it.

Get Moving

Start walking- inside, outside, in water, on a treadmill. It makes no difference, just get your body used to labor. Work up to continuous forward motion for 30 minutes. If you can go for an hour go for it. Try to move faster.

Get Geared Up

One important thing to that can make or break you experience is proper clothing. As you begin walking wearing just about anything will do; however, once we start running you will discover a new level of sweating.

In order to remain comfortable you want to begin thinking about synthetic material. These will pull sweat away from your body; it’s called wicking.  They are also light and this will help in the long run AND make you feel good. Different people may have different needs; it will be up to you to determine what combination of wicking socks, shorts, underwear, and shirts you want to wear. At a minimum I suggest a non-cotton shirt to begin with. For larger people I also suggest a compression shirt. When I first started running it made me feel self conscious as I felt my chest and stomach bounce. A compression shirt will stop this.

Along the same lines, women need a properly fitted sports bra. Go to a sports store if you need help with this. Also consider researching the topic of layering so you can get the proper combination of clothing for your climate.

Time for Your First Steps

Start of your running program by running for 1 minute and walking for 2 minutes. This walk is called an active rest. Repeat for 30 minutes. Once you are comfortable increase to 2 minutes of running and a 2 minute rest, now 2 minutes running with 1 minute rest. Work up to 15 minutes running, 1 minute rest and repeat. It will be slow at first, more like a jog.

Speed will come in time. Try this twice a week and once comfortable increase to 3. Soon you will run without the breaks. I suggest you start outside just because, if you ever want to move to running outside it makes for an easier transition.

Proper Footwear

Many people who run, even some marathoners started out with similar programs. Some even started with whatever footwear they had. Once you start logging miles, shoes not designed for this punishment will deteriorate.

Take my advice and get a quality pair of running shoes. You can get them at a sports store, but a running store will measure and observe you and make sure they get the right pair of shoes for you, your arches, and gait. They may even give you tips on better ways to lace and tie your shoes. It is unbelievable the difference the right pair of shoes, insoles, or orthotics can make.

Take a Break

Rest is very important for growth. Do not pile workout over workout, your body needs time to heal. In fact you need to get rest in order to become better. You may decide to rest by cross training. This may include cycling, swimming, rowing, weight training, or the elliptical machine. Cross training is a good way to improve, but log at least 1 zero day a week where you simply rest. As you start out you will need 2 or possibly 3 zero days. Injuries will cause setbacks.

Eat Right

I claim to be no nutritionist, but I can tell you that I know many people run to lose weight. If you are doing this there is a chance you are also dieting. Remember to make sure you are getting balanced meals because your body will need the vitamins. If you are on a reduced calorie diet, realize that as your calorie expenditure increase you will reach an apex and weight loss will stop. It seems counter intuitive but you may need to increase your calories to support your exercise and continue to lose weight. I personally have made this mistake.

Stay Motivated

Once you are consistently running you may need to take steps to keep it interesting. You will not be successful if it becomes boring and more work than fun. There are many things you can do to make this more interesting.

For instance, if you have not been running with music- try it, change your course from day to day and explore, try running trails, join a running club, set distance or speed goals and research training plans, take trips to local attractions just to run (like parks and nature preserves), or sign up for a race.

Also, consider keeping a training log. Do more than log your times and mile, but remember to write down how you feel. You will be able to look back and enjoy your improvements.


One Comment Add yours

  1. si uman berkata:

    note to self 😀

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