There are SO many benefits to running – stress relief, fat loss, and of course, heart health. While I typically run more than 1 mile when I head out on a run because I enjoy it so much, there are so many benefits to running for just one mile a day! You don’t have to be a marathoner to reap the benefits of a daily run. And the best part? Running doesn’t require tons of fancy equipment or a membership–– you can run 1 mile anywhere!
Running one mile a day has so many health benefits and only takes about 8-12 minutes for most people. So, today I’m sharing the 10 benefits of running a mile (0r more) a day. If you’ve been thinking about doing a Run Streak, this may convince you to do so! I did a 30 run streak over the holidays one year and honestly loved it, even though it had some challenges! But people who have years-long run streaks blow my mind!
Okay, let’s get running.
These facts go to show you that you don’t need to run super long distances to get the benefits of running!
Running for at least 10 minutes (a mile, give or take, depending on your pace), can lower your risk for heart disease and lower cholesterol levels . This is because running forces your heart muscles and lungs to work harder than when you’re walking or sitting, which strengthens your heart and increases your lung capacity. Runners also tend to have a lower resting heart rate than average and a higher level of oxygen intake than average.
Not only that, but running can help with high cholesterol too. Running can increase high-density lipid protein cholesterol, which is your healthy cholesterol, while stimulating enzymes that help reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol (bad cholestrol) in your blood (source).
And as you continue to make running a habit, your resting heart rate lowers, which is an indicator of overall health.
As we get older, we lose some of our bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis (a disease that thins and weakens the bones). Daily runs cause new bone tissue to form, making your bones stronger. Strength training is also an important part of strengthening your bones, so I make sure to do at least 2 days of strength training in addition to my 3-5 day a week running routine. I used to do CrossFit, but now I just do my strength workouts at home or at the gym. It’s important to protect our ankles and knees while still strengthening them, which is why strength training combined with running is so good.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep and help you sleep through the night. It’s not as simple as just tiring yourself out though. Running helps reduce cortisol (your stress hormone), and it releases endorphins. The less stress you feel at night, the easier it is to go to sleep. Running a mile a day helps reduce anxiety and depression (while running, blood circulation to the brain is increased and the part of your brain that responds to stress and improves your mood is affected), which in turn, helps you sleep better. You won’t feel these results instantly (, so keep running throughout your week, and notice better sleep over time.
As you know, you burn calories as you run. If your goal for running is losing weight or burning fat, the best thing you can do to get the most out of your mile a day, is to diversify your workouts so that your body has to adapt. Bodies get used to routines quickly so varying things helps your body get fit in different ways, producing a wider variety of health benefits. A few ideas:
Diversifying your workout will increase the amount of calories you’re able to burn. But, to avoid injuries, make sure take true rest days.
Running is one of the biggest helps in managing stress in my life. You know that thing people call a “runner’s high”? Well that’s an actual, scientific thing. When you’re doing aerobic exercise, your body releases a rush of endorphins (feel-good hormones) which interact with receptors in your brain to block pain. Then, simultaneously, those endorphins trigger a positive feeling, which is why it puts you in a good mood. There are studies that show the pain suppression effect is similar to the effects of morphine — minus the addiction or dependence.
Running also helps reduce stress hormones, like cortisol. This post talks more about how cortisol interacts with stress. As it relates to running, remember that the right amount of exercise (which is a form of stress) will lower cortisol. That’s why running a mile a day is so great! Too much exercise — or too little recovery — can elevate cortisol.
Exercise has been proven to help you live longer. And that’s partly because the better care we take of our bodies, the better immunity we have to fight illness. The stronger our bones, joints and muscles are, the longer they’ll work.
The physical activity guidelines for Americans says that adults should get 150-300 minutes per week (20-45 minutes a day) of moderate-intensity activity (walking the dog, mowing the lawn, chasing kids around), or 75-150 minutes a week (10 to 20 minutes a day is great) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (or high impact exercise!), which means something like running. (Source) If you knew that running just one mile a day could help improve your longevity, would you do it? There are no requirements that say you have to run for 30 minutes each time to get any benefits (but you may find you like it and want to keep going ;)).
Sometimes 10 minutes alone is all it takes to help relieve some of your stress. As humans in the 21st century, it’s hard to go more than 20 minutes (even 10!) without looking at a screen in some capacity. Running gives you the mental break you need to keep going throughout your day. And bonus points if you’re running outside! There’s nothing better than a quick outdoor run alone to make me feel better.
Not only does running make you feel good scientifically (remember the information about endorphins above?), but the sense of satisfaction and achievement you gain from finishing a run is also a great benefit. I have a 5 minute rule that I follow to help get me out the door when I’m not feeling motivated. I make myself run for 5 minutes, and allow myself the permission to turn around if I still don’t want to run after those 5 minutes are over. Generally, by the time I reach the 5 minute mark, I feel better about myself already, and I continue the run.
It feels good to check something off your list, to do something good for your health, and to gain the endorphins you earned from that short sweat.
Did you know that regular moderate runs increase these size of some of the regions in your brain? These regions are responsible for your thinking and your memory. A study published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory showed that that after a session of high-impact running, the participants could learn new vocabulary faster. Pretty cool, huh? And get this, reducing stress (which happens while we run, remember?) also helps prevent cognitive impairment.
You’re getting a LOT of bang for your buck if you run a mile a day.
Exercise physiologist James Turner, Ph.D looked at the effects of running on our immunity and found that “long term exercise and training encourage a healthy, anti-inflammatory environment [in the body],”. Many professionals agree that light or moderate running (in our case, a mile a day) boosts our body’s natural immune system by circulating protective cells through the body faster, to attack and eliminate bacteria, viruses and fungi. (source)
Running also helps decrease inflammation and boosts white blood cells and antibodies, which makes your immune system healthier.
Running can also be an ideal form of exercise for people with diabetes as it helps improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin (source).
If you’re intimidated by running, start with a mile a day! If you’re brand new to running, start with a training plan and a supportive group. (You can join my virtual running team here and get access to a number of training plans. And keep in mind, you need to be cautious if you’re attempting to run EVERY SINGLE DAY. Resting your body is key to recovery, which will make running 10x more pleasant the next time you head out the door AND help prevent injuries. If you want to do a run streak, join my running group to get tools and support to do it the right way!
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