Can You Still Lose Weight If You Jog Outside of Your Weight Loss Heart Rate Zone?

By Nina K.

No matter what your heart rate, jogging can help you lose weight. Although your treadmill display may designate a certain range as the "weight loss zone," the truth is that heart rate is not directly related to fat loss. That said, your heart rate does indicate the intensity of your workout, and intensity affects exercise health benefits as well as recommended duration.

How Weight Loss Works

Simply put, losing weight requires eating fewer calories than you burn. Calories are energy you get from food and drinks, and your body needs this fuel for normal functions such as digestion and respiration as well as for physical activities such as typing and walking. When you consume fewer calories than your body needs, you burn calories stored in fat cells, thereby losing weight. For every deficit of 3,500 calories, you lose about 1 pound of fat. By eating fewer calories and increasing activity level, most people can safely lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Jogging and Calories

When you include jogging in your routine, you burn more calories than you would if you remained sedentary. And although your heart rate doesn't dictate how many calories you shed during the exercise, your speed and body weight do. For example, a 155-pound person burns about 300 calories in 30 minutes jogging at 5 mph, or 335 calories in 30 minutes jogging at 5.2 mph. For the same duration, a person who weighs 185 pounds will burn 355 calories at 5 mph or 400 calories at 5.2 mph.

Heart Rate Goals

To get the full benefits of aerobic activity -- such as reduced blood pressure and increased lung function -- you must reach a moderate or vigorous intensity, which is indicated by your heart rate. In addition, your heart rate can tell you if you're working too hard for your fitness level and need to slow down. Jogging is generally considered a vigorous-intensity exercise, which means your target heart rate should be between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220. For example, a 35-year-old has a maximum rate of 185 beats per minute and should aim for 126 to 157 beats per minute while jogging. In comparison, a heart rate between 50 and 70 percent of maximum indicates a moderate workout.

Scheduling

For optimal weight loss, aim for 150 minutes per week of jogging or other vigorous cardio exercise, or 300 minutes per week of moderate cardio such as brisk walking. At a minimum, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 75 weekly minutes of vigorous cardio or 150 minutes of moderate cardio. Strength-training exercises such as pushups, squats and lifting weights are also important for health and weight loss, so engage in these activities two to three times weekly. The CDC reports that it's safe to perform strength training on the same days you jog or do other cardio.

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