Am I too fat to run?

This post was imported from the Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone podcast blog.

Another running question for the lovely Julia! This one comes from Renee:

I've been walk/running regularly for a little over a year, but at 5'6" and 195 lbs I'm obese by BMI standards, and am worried about increasing the running portion of my workouts beyond about 30 minutes. (Distance? I'm dead slow so probably not even 2 miles.) I was at 180 lbs at this time last year and can sure tell the difference in my running with the increased weight – it's way harder and I've had to downshift from Laughably Slow to Very Slow Indeed.

I am in process of losing weight again, but in the mean time, should I be concerned about too much impact on my joints? Don't know if body type has any affect, so I will share that I'm pretty classic pear shape with a relatively small waist and shoulders, wider hips, and very big thighs.

Julia sayz:

Body weight does have significant impact not only on your joints but mostly on your running style. In order to accommodate the weight you carry around you move your body in a different way, which usually isn’t the most efficient running style. In most cases you end up causing yourself an injury, usually in the lower leg area (knees, ankles, shins, etc). This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t run, but you need to use a little more caution while you work on losing the extra body fat. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • It’s important to be moving for at least 40 minutes. That doesn’t mean you have to run for forty minutes, you can warm up with a fast paced walk and then throw in some some 30 second running stints before beginning the longer running portion of your workout. Twenty minutes is usually the mark where your body starts to burn fat during a workout, giving yourself 20 minutes more to really rev it up will help you lose weight faster.
  • Don’t knock walking! Taking walking breaks between runs actually allows your muscles a “breather” and can help you run longer and faster.
  • Add strengthening exercises to your routine. We've got lots of those in the Up & Running 5K Beginners Course that help you build up muscles and joints before they break down.
  • In order to lose weight you need to be “running” four days a week. I’ve seen women lose weight with three workouts per week, but four is optimum for weight loss.

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