Why running is still great for getting fit, losing weight & living longer

HIIT gets all the headlines, but running is still great for health, fitness and losing weight

Man running to lose weight and get fit
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HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, has been extremely popular for many years. Billed as more efficient, more intense and more varied than going for a run, there's no denying it's a great way to get fit and lose weight. But if you hate HIIT and love running, don't worry – there's still plenty of reasons to lace up the best running shoes for men, or best running shoes for women

For starters, running is scientifically proven to contribute to a longer life. A study by scientists from the University of South Carolina found that running isn't just time wasted: you're getting those hours spent pounding the pavement back in spades. The study examined 52,656 adults aged 20-100 years, with a mean age of 43, who had a medical examination between 1971 and 2002.

Woman running to keep fit

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The study found: "Running distances of 0.1-19.9 miles/week, speeds of 6-7 miles/hour, or frequencies of 2-5 days/week were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, whereas higher mileage, faster paces, and more frequent running were not associated with better survival."

If you can run a few miles in a single session, at an average pace of six miles an hour, twice a week, you're likely to live up to 19% longer than those who don't.

Of course, regular HIIT workout sessions (such as our four-week shape up challenge) still get you healthy, as high-intensity exercise has been known to burn a lot of calories and raise your metabolism in a very short space of time. However, there's something about the forward motion of running, the and changing environments, that draws people in, making them happier.

One review found running "can improve mood and mental health, and that the type of running can lead to differential effects". Faster, shorter runs can induce the production of adrenaline just like a HIIT session, while longer, slower runs can be very meditative.

If you're looking for a way to get started, we recommend our Couch to 5K plan, which is an excellent way to get beginner runners going from their first tentative steps up to a confident five-kilometre park run. It's also very useful to know how to recover properly after a run.