How to Get Started Running If You’re Overweight

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So, you’ve decided you want to get into running – great! Running is one of the best sports you can participate in in terms of improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, muscle tone, and so much more!

However, if you’re overweight and aren’t used to it, it’s not the best idea to start up running right away without a plan. We have come up with a tried-and-true method of how to prepare yourself so you feel great, accomplish your goals, and remain injury-free.

Check in with Your Doctor

Before you do anything else (like, even before you buy running shoes), you need to first check with your primary physician who’s familiar with your health background and make sure you’re physically fit for running. This is not only a crucial step for those who are overweight, but literally everyone.

Don’t just tell your doctor you’d like to start running, either. Sit down and make a little plan for yourself. How often do you plan on running? Will you be running on a treadmill? A track? On the pavement or on trails outside?

These will all have an influence on the risk of injury, stress on the joints, and so on. Once you’ve thought that out, share your plans and your goals with your doctor. They will then be able to tell you if your current plan is well-suited or if there’s something you need to change.

Many people have slightly unrealistic goals when it comes to distance running and weight loss, so don’t be discouraged if your doctor tells you to take things a bit slower than you’d like. Don’t be surprised if they have you perform an exercise stress test on a treadmill to make sure you don’t have any cardiovascular issues going on.

Get the Right Running Shoes

I don’t know about you, but I always love picking out a new pair of running shoes! There are so many different styles and colors out there! However, this can also be a bit overwhelming – especially if you don’t have prior experience in picking them out.

The right running shoes are much more than just something that looks cool/cute. If you wear the incorrect shoes for your feet, body, environment, and running style, it can quickly lead to excess fatigue or injury!

If you happen to already have conditions like bad knees, heel pain, shin splints, etc. then you don’t have to feel hopeless. All you need is patience and the right shoes! Aside from that, you’ll need to know what kind of arches you have.

Don’t worry, the test is super easy to do and you can do it right from the comfort of your own home. Check it out here. After the quick test, you can determine if you have flat feet, high arches, or normal arches.

What the proper running shoes will do for you is help evenly distribute weight, making it easier not only on your joints, but spine, muscles, and entire body. If you have orthotics, look for a pair with removable insoles that can accommodate them.

Get the Right Clothing

If you’re going to be running indoors on a treadmill, then you probably won’t have to worry as much about this regarding weather conditions. However, you should always try to get comfortable clothing. I really love leggings because they help compress and minimize chafing.

This can also help minimize fatigue. Compression tops are also nice for the same reasons. Moreover, they are typically very breathable and wick moisture away from the skin. You can find them in just about any color too!

Start Out Slowly

If you take on too much running too quickly, it can result in burnout or even injury. We obviously want to avoid both of those things from happening. Running is an amazing sport, and you’ll likely come to love it if you go about starting correctly.

If you don’t feel confident enough yet to work out or run in front of others, try out a treadmill or a path that doesn’t have much traffic.

If you need to work up to that, then walking in a pool is an amazing alternative to try out! It’s super low impact so you’ll burn a nice amount of calories and get your heart pumping without the stress.

Try starting out by walking for 5 to 10 minutes, through whichever method you’d like. This is simply to jumpstart your body into getting used to moving around.

It will help loosen up tight muscles and begin expanding your mobility. This should be somewhat challenging, so if 10 minutes is not enough, try to gradually increase your walks until you reach a full 30 minutes.

Add in Running

Once you’ve been able to walk for 30 minutes straight, it’s time for you to add in some run time! Don’t worry, you’re not expected to run for the entire time. The best way to go about this is by walking and adding in a bit of running through intervals. Your routine will look something like this:

  1. Start out by warming up with 10 minutes of fast walking. This will get the blood flowing and will limber up your muscles.
  2. After the 10 minutes, begin running for 1 minute and follow it up with 2 minutes of power walking. We don’t want it to be a break but instead to keep the heart rate up.
  3. Repeat these intervals until you’ve finished a full 20 minutes. Don’t forget to perform a cool down of 5-10 minutes of walking.

Over time, you’ll find that the minute of running will eventually become too easy for you. When this happens, you’ll want to increase the minute runs to 2 minutes and keep the 2 minutes of walking or keep the minute of running and cut the walking down to a minute as well. No matter how you go about it, we want to increase the amount of running.

Maintain Consistency

Accomplishing goals often doesn’t come quickly nor easily, but they are worth it. Consistency is the most important factor in achieving goals, and it can definitely be hard when you’re first starting out. They say that it takes 21 days to create a habit, but it can be even easier to fall out of one.

That’s why it’s important to find ways to stay motivated. Here are a few ways I and others have found that have helped:

  1. Rewarding yourself – This is one of my personal favorites and there are countless ways in which to do so. My personal favorite is finding new music that I love, and not letting myself listen to it unless I’m walking or running. I also let myself have one of my favorite foods during the week, if I have finished all of my runs for said week. You may do so by getting yourself that new pair of running shorts or headphones you’ve been keeping your eye on! It’s all up to you!
  2. Running with a friend – It’s great to start new goals with another person, because you can hold each other accountable and help motivate each other. Some people are more motivated by not letting someone else down than not letting themselves down, so if that sounds familiar I recommend finding a running buddy!
  3. Track your progress – This can be done in a variety of ways, but one of the easiest and most convenient methods is through applications on your smartphone. There are so many running apps out there now that you will surely find one that suits your needs.


Now that you’ve been able to read all about how to start running if you’re overweight, do you feel more prepared to begin? We hope that this guide has given you a deeper understanding of the right way to begin so you can set yourself up for success. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again shortly! Remember to have fun!


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Ericka Parker

Ericka started her career as a personal trainer over 20 years ago and her goal was to help people become healthy, happy and fit. To do this she would find out their goals and provide the tools and routines to help them reach them. As her career progressed, she added yoga training to her skills to help her clients achieve mindfulness and help with clients mobility. To help more people she started to help other people achieve their fitness goals with advice, tips and fitness equipment reviews.
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