Whether you don’t have access to gym equipment like dumbbells right now or just ~need~ a break from the day-to-day and are looking for a solo form of exercise, there’s never been a better time to set a running goal—like running amile a day.
As long as you have a pair of sneakers and a safe place to put one foot in front of the other, you’re just minutes away from basking in all of the endorphins (and hopefully the sun) that come with a good run.
Even if running has never been your thing, working toward a daily mile is totally doable. “Most people—including kids—could safely run or walk a mile per day with little to no risk of injury,” says Steve Stonehouse, CPT, USATF run coach, and director of education for STRIDE. (Yep, walking breaks are totally acceptable, guys!)
Even seasoned runners should consider running a mile every day. “If you already have a regular running routine, increasing up to daily runs could improve your stamina and mood, too,” adds Rebecca Kennedy, CPT, Peloton Master Tread Instructor.
So, yeah, if you needed a little extra push to get moving, this is it. But before you set that daily reminder to get out there and log that mile, there are a few things the pros want you to keep in mind.
First, what are the benefits of running a mile a day?
As long as you do it safely (more on that soon), running a mile a day is a great way to support your overall health and fitness.
“You get all the benefits of running in general, like supporting cardiorespiratory fitness and bone health, without the volume of mileage that can potentially cause injury,” says Stonehouse.
It’s also a great way to guarantee you spend some time outdoors every day—and exercising outside has been shown to have greater psychological benefits, like a boosted mood and feeling calm, than sweating indoors, according to research from the American Psychological Association. (If you log your mile on a tread, though, even looking at nature scenes on a screen enhances your run’s happiness-inducing effect, found a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.)
Can you lose weight by running a mile a day?
The average 150-pound person burns about 370 calories in 30 minutes of running at a 10 minute/mile pace, according to Harvard Medical School. Run a single mile at that pace and you’ll burn about 123 calories.
While that’s definitely something, it’s likely not going to keep you progressing toward your goals long-term. “Your body is an incredibly adaptive machine and will adapt to the stresses of running a mile a day relatively quickly,” explains Stonehouse.
If weight loss is your ultimate goal, you’ll want to focus on training that helps you burn fat efficiently and build muscle. Which is why, ultimately, just running a mile a day won’t do much to move the needle towards your long-term weight-loss goals; it simply doesn’t burn enough calories. (Need a little inspo? Try one of these top calorie-burning exercises instead.)
Will running a mile a day build muscle?
Though logging a daily mile can be a great way to get moving and support your health and fitness goals, whether or not it supports muscle growth, too, depends on how you run it.
“Low-intensity cardio does not lead to muscle gain, a.k.a. hypertrophy,” says Kennedy. If you run a mile at an easier or more moderate pace, you rely on type I (a.k.a. slow-twitch) muscle fibers, which support endurance exercise. (Picture a marathon runner.)
However, “sprinting is a great way to focus on muscle gain,” Kennedy says. Sprinting recruits more muscle fibers, specifically type II (a.k.a. fast-twitch) muscle fibers, which support power production.
A surefire way to build that muscle? This equipment-free workout sculpts your lower body from home:
That said, sprinting just a total of one mile a day likely isn’t enough to make noticeable muscle gains, says Kennedy. “In order to really put on muscle, you need to lift weights, eat enough to support muscle tissue breakdown and protein synthesis, and get adequate recovery.”
Ultimately, can sprints support your progress? Totally. But will they do the job on their own? Not so much.
What happens if I run a mile a day…if I’m not already a runner?
Before you vow to lace up your running shoes seven days a week, consider this: “If you don’t run regularly and begin running every day, the steep increase in stress and impact puts pressure on your joints and ligaments. This could lead to potential injury,” Kennedy says. So, if you don’t have a current running routine, start with just one day of running per week and work yourself up to every day over the course of several weeks, she recommends.
Still, though, “running daily is not for everyone, just like power lifting every day isn’t advisable,” Kennedy says. So don’t feel like if you haven’t tried running a mile a day that you’re missing out. There are plenty of other ways to reap similar benefits.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that, while you can totally build a tolerance to daily runs, switching up how you move from day to day can keep you feeling fresh, both in body and in mind.
But if you decide to go for it, these are the best ways to add running a mile a day to your fitness routine.
Kennedy says her go-to way of incorporating a one-mile run into daily exercise is as a finisher. “It’s an incredible way to feel accomplished at the end of a workout,” she says. Whatever gas you’ve got left in the tank, burn through it in that mile.
Or, if you take your daily mile at an easier pace, it works well as a warm-up, too.
The bottom line: Running a mile a day can support your overall fitness and cardiovascular health, but don’t expect it to build major muscle or eliminate the need for other types of exercise.
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