Running is an excellent way to burn calories and get in shape. In fact it is one of the most efficient aerobic exercises in terms of calories burnt per hour. The table below compares some of the common types of aerobic exercise:

- Running ..........750 calories per hour
- Swimming........500
- Cycling............450
- Walking...........250

However running is also the exercise that can put the most strain on your body. Your leg joints can suffer, and of course your heart is pumping a lot faster and working harder while you are running. So is it really the best way to get in shape?

The answer is yes and no! If you are not too overweight or too much out of shape, and you start slowly, then you will soon be reaping the benefits of being much fitter. However running assumes a certain level of physical ability and is not for everyone; walking and cycling are excellent alternatives. Swimming is also good and you can burn a lot of calories.

If you do want to start running as a way to reduce or control your weight here are a few pointers to follow.

See your doctor!
Get a check-up from your physician before you start. As I mentioned above, running is a strenuous exercise.

Start By Running and Walking
A good way to get into regular running is to run (slowly) for a few minutes and then take a walking break for the same amount of time. Three to five minute intervals are good to start. You gradually reduce the walking interval until you can manage 30 minutes of continuous running.

Run with a buddy.
Try to find someone to run with who is at the same stage as you. They will help get you out of the door on a regular basis. You can also talk as you are exercising, which is a great way to pass the time.

Take Things Easy.
Avoid the temptation, as you get fitter, to increase your distances and/or running speed too quickly. This is a sure way to get injured. I would normally allow for a gradual build-up over a six-month period.

Track Your Progress
Keep a log of how often you go running. Use the running log to record when you ran, and how long you were out. A logbook is also a good way to monitor your weekly running miles, and make sure you are not doing too much.

So running, in moderation, can be a great way to get in shape. It won’t be long before you’ll start to feel better, and running will strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system. Climbing stairs won’t be a chore, and your increased energy level will help you deal with life’s challenges.

Author's Bio: 

Mike is the developer of customized training logbooks for athletes. To get your own personalized running log, visit Mike's web page Custom Running Logs. To find out more about losing weight and getting fit visit the Get In Shape - Fitness For Women website.