Fitness Friday: “Why Women Should Not Run”

Hello friends!

I hope you all are having a great Friday so far.

Fitness Friday

For this week’s Fitness Friday, I thought I’d share an article, called “Why Women Should Not Run” that one of my friends posted to facebook. It really got me thinking, and I’d like to know what you all think, too.

So, first of all, I’ll try and give a summary of the article. The author talked about the different kinds of people he sees at the gym, and discussed one kind of person in particular: the woman that comes in every day and runs for long lengths of time but ends up getting “softer” and fatter the more she runs. He claims he’s not trying to pick on women, but has focused on them for a few reasons for the purpose of this article. According to him, they’re more likely to be “lured” into exercising by the thought and the assurances of better, fit bodies. He also claims that lots of cardio many times a week is “devastating” to women’s metabolism. He backs up these thoughts with studies (though I noticed he didn’t say when these studies were conducted…), and says that the human body really isn’t made for running or lots of exercise in general. The author explains that when we exercise too much and use up all our energy, our body goes into survival mode and turns down our metabolism, upping our likelihood of gaining fat. He then goes on to explain this chain of muscle, bone, and long-term health loss that is all a result of running. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

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His next point is that women too often gorge themselves on high fat meals, making it so that they feel obligated to double up their cardio at their next gym session, and that this in of itself is causing a lot of the problem. The author ends his article claiming, “There are better ways to lose fat, and there are better ways to look good. Your bikini body is not at the end of a marathon, and you won’t find it on a treadmill…Don’t want to stop running? Fine. Then stop complaining about how the fat won’t come off your hips, thighs, and ass. You’re keeping it there.

Well then. I tried to stay as neutral as possible in that summary, so if you want to read his words please check out the article HERE.

I have to say, I do see some of his points. I personally have gone through the cycle of binge eating, feeling horrible about it, and then sweat extra at the gym. But in my opinion, that’s not a bad thing. I don’t make it a daily routine, because that is not smart, but I don’t see much wrong in working extra hard at the gym sometimes.

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I also know that running has been the thing that has helped me keep my weight off. Back in 2008-9 as a senior in high school I was at my ultimate heaviest and felt horrible about myself. At the end of my freshman year of college, I had begun running on the treadmill. My body wasn’t used to it, so it was sometimes only at 3-5 minute incriments, but I began to see the weight come off, and I had not changed my diet a bit.

That summer, and in the years since then, I have changed my diet, which obviously helped a lot. But I still believe running is the key thing that gets rid of the excess weight (for me). I’ve had various hip, IT band, and knee issues, and during those times, when I wasn’t running, the weight crept back, despite the fact that I kept eating well and did other forms of exercise.

Now, this is just me. I know there are plenty of people out there who can shred the weight by simply doing pilates or yoga and no cardio. But I’m not one of them. Which is why this article irked me.

Again, I think the author made some good points, and to play devil’s advocate to myself (and to side with him), I have noticed that it is possible for me to hit running plateaus, and that I do start feeling a bit “soft” if I don’t mix up how I run. But that doesn’t mean I have to plain ol’ stop. I just have to mix it up a bit through intervals, longer running times, or inclines. And then I’m off the plateau.

I really considered his points a lot before writing this post, in all fairness, and I do think he might be on to something. But I really did not think his crass over-generalization of women runners was accurate or appropriate.

Not only did the author not acknowledge that every person and body is different, but he ended his piece with a demand to women to stop running or be content with having excess fat, and didn’t even give suggestions of other exercises to try if this is the case. I know that if I personally “cut the cardio”, I would begin gaining weight like crazy, even if I kept up a good diet and tried other, less intense exercises. So what are women like me supposed to do with his “advice”?? Keep on running and be fat, or stop running all together and be fat?

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I guess I’m just wondering what you all think about this. I know this was a lot to read and thank you to those of you who stuck with it, but I really wanted to share it to get different points of view.

So…what do YOU think? Is running (or any kind of cardio) a good thing? Has it helped you get or stay in shape? Do you see/understand his points? What do you think some of his suggestions should have been?

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Thanks for reading and for your input. Have a great weekend!

33 comments

  1. This is such an interesting topic. I know for me running has helped me GAIN the weight I need because it sparked an appetite. Once I swung more to the binge eating spectrum, it helped me maintain. But it really can spark a pendulum of restriction/binge and obsessive exercise to take the weight off. That isn’t healthy. I do know that I run for me and it’s something I love to do, so no article is going to change that, but I do like hearing other perspectives.

    1. I love your pendulum comparison – that’s exactly it. Thanks for your feedback – it’s interesting to hear it from the viewpoint of a person who needed to gain/maintain weight.

  2. Personally I think he is a chauvinistic asshat. There is something to be said about over-doing the cardio to balance bad eating habits, BUT that’s true of both genders. I think those who believe this article holds more value than it really does are delusional. Yes, you shouldn’t just run same pace all the time or just run. YES you do need to mix it up and cross train and do weights too for best results. But saying women shouldn’t run…I swear I would love to race that man any day, I’d love to see him stand at the start line of a marathon and watch me demolish him.

    Thank you for sharing this, and I commend you on pointing out both sides. I too see both sides, but I have to lean more towards the fact that this man has no idea how to talk to women or about women and he is degrading and sexist.

    1. That was my biggest problem with the article too. I hate the idea of women out there reading it and stopping their cardio just because of his rude words. And I’d love to see you beat him, too!

      I agree. He makes valid points, but they’re not exactly phrased in the best of ways at all.

  3. I love this post. Very interesting. Working out really changed my life not only physically but also mentally.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Me too! There is definitely a different (hopefully better) mentality that comes with exercise!

  4. This is really interesting! For myself, running (like once or twice a week) helps me maintain my weight, but I didn’t use it for weight loss. I found more interval training and resistance to be better for that.

    1. That’s how I use running now, too – to maintain my weight. I just thought it was so awful of him to come out and say that it won’t help women LOSE weight. And I agree, intervals and resistance are great!

      1. Very true! Everyone has what works for them!

  5. I really like the spirit and intent of this guy’s article, and I think overall I agree with his points. Some will read it though and think that he is literally against women running altogether, which I don’t think he is. Running just shouldn’t be the sole form of exercise that someone gets. I think lifting weights and doing other activities is important too.

    I really agree with everything you said though too. He wasn’t very tactful, but I think at the same time that may have been his point. I don’t know. Maybe he wrote it trying to strike up a debate?

    1. He definitely had a lot of valid points, I just thought he could have balanced his approach out a bit more. But yes, cross training is definitely ideal! And that’s a good point – maybe he wanted a debate!

      1. Did you leave a comment on his post? There were SO many replies! :D

      2. I know! I just got to replying to them. I love it!

      3. Oh, that too, I just meant all of the comments that the author of the “Why Women Should Not Run” article. haha. Sorry for the confusion :D

      4. Ohhhh no, I should check that! Haha that’s ok, it was my mistake!

  6. I think the author could have written this article with a different title, but it was striking! I think running and cardio are good, but in moderation of course. :)

    1. Yep – everything in moderation! :-)

  7. I think he’s a little too extreme in the opposite problem. Personally I think it’s all about balance.

    1. Right. Balance is definitely the way to go, and I think he could have chosen better words to get that idea across.

  8. I have noticed since I switched from daily workout DVDs from Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels to more running, I’ve gotten softer.

    I don’t know what it means or how to analyze it or what to do differently though! I enjoy running, that’s why I do it.

    1. Interesting. But I’m totally with you – running is great, so why not keep doing it? :-)

  9. This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing! I may be biased because I love running and it has kept me in shape. But I also think that eating healthy is a huge part of that. Eating super unhealthy and then trying to work it off probably won’t be as productive as a balance between healthy eating and running!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Binge eating or eating 3000 or 4000 calories a day and then trying to run it off definitely is NOT the thing to do. I’ve heard that it’s good to keep an 80/20 mindset – 80% of being healthy is diet, and the other 20% is exercise. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint!

  10. Wow this is a very interesting point that the article brought up. Wouldn’t his reasoning be the same for males too? If males only ran and didn’t do strength I don’t see why it would be any different than a women only running and not doing strength. I agree with the commenter above, it’s all about balance.

    So glad you posted this, it really got me thinking! :)

    1. That was my thought, too. He mentioned men in the article, so why didn’t he just keep on going with “people” in general? I agree, balance is definitely key. :-)

  11. [...] Fitness Friday: “Why Women Should Not Run” [...]

  12. I think if you love running, GO FOR IT!! If you’re doing it to just burn calories…that needs a mental/body image reevaluation.

    1. That is a very good point. It should all be about the love. :-)

  13. so what about males? how do they differ? one cannot make these statements towards women only without looking at males.

    personally, i don’t believe that running or cardio makes you fat. what i do believe is that when those who are working out don’t lose weight/or see results, something is off. people forget that as we age, our metabolisms naturally decrease and what used to work for us when we were younger (with fast metabolisms and an abundance of energy), will no longer work. that said, one must reevaluate what they’re doing and tweak some things in order to lose weight.

    this is what i had to do; i had to change the way i worked out and changed the way i ate before i saw results.

    i think that article is silly! staying active has been proven to extend your lifespan and has many benefits!

    1. Yep, my thoughts exactly! I think age and genes definitely have a lot to do with whether or not we lose weight when doing cardio.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. [...] was so, so happy to see all of the responses to my Fitness Friday post last week. It’s so interesting to read everyone’s opinions and reactions to an article [...]

  15. Hmm very interesting article and your opinions of it… He may be right in that pounding on the treadmill hours on end daily may not give you the body that you may expect (though I do find it useful at least for maintenance), but the fact is that there are so many women who just run because they love it, and weight loss may be a happy bonus :) Plus I liked your point about working out harder after a little bit too much indulgence – this seems really reasonable (I know I’ve done it, and look at all the people who join the gym in the new year so it can’t be abnormal!) as long as you don’t hit the binge/excessive exercise cycle.

    1. Yes, exactly! Great points! I think the author assumed that the only reason women go to the gym is to “look good.” Granted, that’s some of it for a lot of us, but not the only reason…like you said, maybe people actually enjoy running!

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