Running every day can have some health benefits. Studies show that running at a moderate pace for just 5-10 minutes every day can reduce the risk of death from heart attack, stroke and other common diseases. But the same studies also show that these benefits are more pronounced with 4.5 hours of running per week, meaning you don’t need to run for hours every day. Running is a high-intensity physical activity, and overtraining can lead to injuries like stress fractures and shin injuries.
The number of days per week it is safe to run depends on your goals and fitness level. Your training plan should include days for cross training, strength training and rest. They can make you a stronger and healthier runner overall.
Read on to learn more about the benefits and risks of daily running and tips on how to incorporate daily running into your routine.
What are the benefits of daily running?
Daily running can have a positive impact on your health. Research shows that running at a moderate pace (6.0 miles per hour) for just 5-10 minutes each day can have the following benefits:
lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke
lower risk of cardiovascular disease
lower risk of cancer
lower risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
While these benefits can be achieved with a minimal amount of daily running, the Dutch research team recommends running for 2.5 hours a week, or 30 minutes five days a week, to maximize longevity benefits.
Other benefits of running may include improved sleep and mood. In one study, researchers observed a group of healthy adolescents running at a moderate pace for 30 minutes every morning for three weeks. Their sleep, mood and concentration during the day were better than those of a control group of non-runners.
You can also get the same benefits from 30 minutes of other daily activities like walking, biking, swimming or yoga.
Is it safe to run every day?
Running every day can increase the risk of overuse injuries. Overuse injuries occur when physical activity is done too much and too fast, without allowing the body to adapt. They can also occur due to errors in technique, such as running with improper form and overloading certain muscles.
To avoid overuse injuries:
Make sure you have proper running shoes and change your shoes often.
Gradually increase the number of miles you run per week.
Vary your running days with exercises such as cycling or swimming.
Warm up before you run and stretch afterwards.
Run with good form.
If you have a running injury, stop training and see a doctor to work out a recovery plan. RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) can help with recovery.
Do you need more exercise?
Cross training or training with a form of exercise other than running can be beneficial for runners. Some possible benefits include:
it reduces the risk of injury
different muscle groups are involved
increases flexibility and core strength
helps recovery from an injury without compromising fitness levels
If running is your main form of exercise, consider cycling, swimming, yoga or Pilates once or twice a week to reap the above benefits. You should consider including anaerobic activities such as strength and weight training once or twice a week.
How to run every day
The only items you need to start running every day are one or two pairs of running shoes and socks. You may want to alternate between two pairs of shoes if one pair gets wet or muddy.
You’ll also need sweat-resistant running clothes, such as shorts and t-shirts. If you run at night or early in the morning, buy a reflective vest or light for safety.
How often you run in a week depends on your goals and fitness level. For example, if you are a beginner, you don’t need to start running every day because there is a higher risk of burnout or injury. Instead, start running every other day for 20-30 minutes. Consider trying a “couch to 5K” program to get started.
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