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Am I Too Heavy To Run?

Am I Too Heavy To Run?

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Depending on your height, weight and bodyfat level, running can have its dangers if you are significantly overweight. Running regularly while being at an unhealthy weight can pose risks, such as to your cardiovascular health, as well as impacting your knees, ankles, and joints. This could lead to arthritis and other serious injuries. Always seek the advice of a medical professional prior to beginning any new training regimen.

If you struggle with obesity, and want to lose weight to get healthier, you may have considered running. However, is running if you are overweight safe? Does it pose any risks? If yes, what risks? And, how heavy is too heavy to run? Our article will discuss and attempt to answer these questions in greater detail.

How Heavy Is Too Heavy to Run? 

Even though every person is different, some people could be at risk while running if they weigh over 200lbs (90+kg). Anywhere below that weight is generally considered the safe zone. Clearly, 200 pounds is a general guideline, and this could vary significantly depending on height and body type. Also, if your muscles can withstand the force which is made by running, you are typically considered safe to run.

If you participate in physical activity regularly, then your muscles will likely already be strong enough to carry your body weight. Are you unsure whether it is safe for you to begin to run? Speak to a medical professional who can provide you with proper recommendations. Even though there are exceptions, most middle aged or elderly people can experience health risks associated with running while overweight. What are those risks?

What Are The Risks of Running While Overweight?

The main risks of running while overweight are not only risks to your cardiovascular health, but also risk of injury due to placing excessive strain on your knees, ankles, and joints. The force your body creates by running is magnified the heavier you are. Your knees, joints, and ankles have to be strong enough to withstand the force that is generated, whether you are overweight or not. This can lead to inflammation, pain, cartilage loss, and even arthritis. It can also cause serious injury in extreme cases.

Just like the other muscles in your body, it takes time for your heart to build up the endurance needed in order to run. Pushing yourself too hard, too quickly can be extremely dangerous. This is why we always recommend seeking out the advice of a medical expert before you begin any new training routine. You should also wear a heart monitor. A heart rate monitor will monitor and display your current heart rate, and some will even warn you if your heart rate travels into an unsafe zone.

Chest strap heart rate monitors have been proven to be more accurate than their wrist-worn counterparts. The Polar H10 (pictured below) is one of our favorites.

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Another factor of running overweight is that it is much easier to lose your balance. Falling over at a heavier weight can lead to sprains, or even broken ligaments and bones. You can also experience burnout and muscle aches if you push yourself too hard, too soon.

How Can I Work Up To Running Overweight?

To work up to running while being overweight, you must start slow. If you are obese, begin by walking on a daily basis to get your muscles and body used to physical activity. A 30 minute walk can help burn upwards of 200 calories for an overweight person. And, if done consistently, you could potentially see a loss of 2-3 pounds per week. That may not seem like a lot, but it sure adds up in the long run!

Once you have gotten to a weight where you feel confident you can run, start by doing so for short periods of time every day, around 5-10 minutes. If you own one, you can use a treadmill. The point here is to get your body accustomed to that fast, forward motion and to build endurance. 

Once you feel like you are able to do more than 5-15 minutes a day, try increasing the time of running day by day. Work yourself up to 30 minutes a day. This could take up to 4 weeks. Always do a warm up session before going for a run. This will get your blood pumping and heart rate up. It will also stretch your muscles to avoid straining them when you’re running. 

If you find running on its own difficult, you may try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). What is HIIT? It’s a form of exercise which combines short periods of intense exercise, such as running, with regular intervals during which you walk at a slow pace to cool down. This will allow someone who does not yet have the cardio endurance for long distance walks or runs to burn more calories and build up their endurance. Not only is HIIT easier on your body, but it allows you to burn the same amount of calories as during a full run. This is because during those intervals your heart rate remains up and your metabolism continues to burn calories. 

Safety Tips While Running Overweight

– Only run for short distances: Don’t overwork yourself, which can result in fatigue and tired muscles. Always run for short distances to avoid causing any harm to your body. Don’t run on bumpy terrain.

– Take regular breaks: Regular breaks will help you to cool down and regain strength. Remember to drink lots of water too. 

– Invest in the proper shoes if you can afford it: The best recommendation is for you to go to a store that specializes in running shoes, get a gait analysis done, and find out which options for walking or running shoes would be best for you. The salesperson will record you while you walk or run, analyze your gait, and share useful information with you about any potential issues you have and which shoes might be best to help you correct them.


We hope our article answered some of your questions about running overweight. Now that you know the risks, you will be able to lose weight by progressing in a safe manner. Remember not to overwork yourself, and start slow. If you feel like running isn’t the best option for you initially, there are plenty of other options to help you progress, such as aqua jogging or cycling (click here to check out the blog post I wrote recently regarding aqua jogging).

No matter what you do, exercising regularly and trying to get down to a healthy weight will not only do wonders for your physical health, but it can also do wonders for your mental well-being and self-esteem.