Best Running Exercise

Best running exercise. When people take up the sport of running, it is often with the intention of maintaining or losing weight. For other some degree of fitness is the ultimate aim, but the eternal question is in how far the boundaries should be pushed to achieve the desired objectives.

Basically, running is cardiovascular in nature which can intensify the heart activity, increase lung efficiency and lead to the burning of calories within the body. The actual rate at which these occur will be dependent on several factors within the running exercise…

  • Distance Covered
  • The pace of the runner
  • The undulations of the course


Fitness coach Ben Cohn has argued there will be many opinions devoted to this subject, which will ultimately be expressed in a person’s desired objectives and required level of fitness. Degrees of fitness are relative and all exercise will burn calories, but for many budding athletes the main aim can be to sustain a running exercise program which will be optimal in gaining perfect fitness combined with fast burning of calories.

Within running there are several disciplines to acquiring fitness, each of which has their own degree of intensity.

  • Light jogging – Good for gaining a small amount of fitness.
  • Fast Running – Greater degrees of fitness obtained and many calories burned
  • Interval training or repetition – Where the pace fluctuates during the session between slow and fast speeds and where both fitness levels and calorie burning can climb steeply.


Yet Cohn has stressed that while running exercise programs may be productive in burning calories, they may not be the most efficient. Cross country skiing is apparently more beneficial in this respect, but one advantage for running is that it is a much cheaper option for which a pair of running shoes is the basic requirement.

While running might not be the most productive exercise it is certainly amongst the better sporting activities, but as mentioned above running disciplines take many forms and each have their own merits.

A study by the John Mayo on-line clinic revealed that the most effective form of running for optimum fitness and calorie burning was not fast running but interval training. With fast running the pace tends to be constant, but with intervals there is the very slow recovery speed and the much faster optimum pace. The clinic insists that this provides the ideal conditions for calorie burning with just the repetition of few intense runs during the session. There is the added bonus of this exercise greatly enhancing the individual aerobic capacity.

Ed Coyle, director of the human performance laboratory at the University of Texas adds further credence to this theory. He claims that in a study of eight men and women over a three week period, those who adopted interval training as part of their running regime managed to double their endurance and fitness levels. For the runners refraining from intervals, there was no improvement in endurance and only a marginal increase in fitness. The last group was limited to running exercises of more sedentary type.

He concluded that bouts of intermittent hard running not only generates maximum benefit for the cardiovascular system but also allows for the body to burn fat and calories at a premium rate. The amount of fat burned per hour showed a 36% increase while there was a 13% increase in efficiency in the way in which the heart and lungs pumped blood to the appropriate muscles.

Coyle was also keen to stress that interval training may not be the perfect exercise for everybody. It is does put that extra bit of strain on the heart and is probably one the more demanding running exercise programs. However, when limited to once or twice per week it can produce rapid results in terms of fitness and calorie burning.

Interval training may have been shown to be one of the better means of achieving fitness and weight loss, but it is not necessarily the best for all age groups. It is difficult to imagine the elderly runners being able to cope with such intense workouts especially when their goals will be to achieve moderation in their exercise patterns. Any attempt at interval training may be counter-productive and lead to greater tiredness and less inclination to continue running. For the elderly among us, becoming that bit fitter with associated calorie burning may only be achievable by steady running at a pace which suits the individual.

Elizabeth Quinn, a sports author and fitness consultant, has even suggested that high intensity running activities may be not be as productive as others have suggested. She recommends using the ‘going all out’ strategy only sparingly, as a basic fitness level from slow jogging needs to be established for several weeks before embarking upon this. By using interval training repeatedly, it may work in terms of fitness for a short while, but overtraining might eventually develop whereby the body becomes readily fatigued. Modifying this method of training to allow several moderate increases in pace may draw just as much benefit.

Another respected fitness author, Lyle McDonald, has questioned the use of interval training as the best form of running exercise. He argues that a steady aerobic session is just as viable, as an interval program will always be dependent on the quality of the speed work with the recovery parts being almost reduced to walking pace. However, he does stress that intervals can exercise more parts of the body as the faster sessions often require greater arm movement and potentially a higher leg cadence.

There seems to be little doubt that deciding upon the optimum form of running to achieve quicker fitness and calorie burning is open to wide range of opinion. It is difficult to quantify as one individuals steady pace may be more responsive and suitable to their needs than the interval techniques of another person. It is safe to assume that running exercise does generate fitness and weight control and should be adapted to personal requirements.