Running A Mile A Day: The Benefits and The Setbacks

We can all agree that running is a great form of exercise, not only for weight loss but for our mental well-being too. 

The idea of running a mile a day may seem daunting to beginners who may do little to no exercise. So is running a mile a day really that good for you? And how much is too much?

Read on to find out about the benefits and the setbacks of running a mile a day, including tips on how to get started and how to build stamina for longer runs.

Why is It Good to Run A Mile A Day?

Running a mile a day not only helps aid weight loss, but it also doesn’t cost a penny. You can do it whenever you choose, and some people use it as a kind of therapy. 

Taking time (as little as 15 minutes) out of your day to run a mile is a great way to kickstart your way to a successful day. Not only does running release endorphins, but it helps to stimulate brain activity too, and all that fresh air is bound to give you a good night’s sleep. 

Around the world, a campaign known as the Daily Mile has been implemented into the school curriculum to encourage and educate children about health and fitness. 

In 2018, 391 school children took part in an experiment where they ran a mile a day for a significant period of time. Results showed the Daily Mile reduced sedentary time, increased body composition, and also fitness levels. 

Is It Safe to Run A Mile A Day?

Running a mile a day is completely safe for any person of any age, provided you have some decent running sneakers and a safe place to run.

It doesn’t matter if you have no prior experience with running – a mile a day without the need to stop can be accomplished quicker than you think with the right mindset.  

If you suffer from underlying health conditions, particularly in areas concerning the heart or the lungs, then it is advisable to speak to your doctor beforehand. 

10 Benefits of Running A Mile A Day

If you are still unsure as to how running a mile a day might change your life, look no further. Listed below are ten benefits of running a mile a day. 

1. Helps Lose Weight

If you want to lose a few pounds, running a mile a day will most definitely help you achieve that slimmer figure. Running gives the majority of the muscles in your body a workout – some you might not know even exist until you see how refined they become.

Cardio-based exercise – such as running – raises the heart rate, which burns fat. In order to effectively lose weight by running a mile a day, be sure to switch up your routine by varying your speed and running in areas where the incline is different.

2. Releases Endorphins

Just like any other form of exercise, running releases endorphins which are great for your mental health. 

Endorphins are chemicals, that when released, create a feel-good factor throughout the body. They are known to lower our perception of pain and boost our mood. So while you may be wondering where this feel-good factor is when you’re gasping for breath when running, just wait until you get home and get showered, and you will feel like a million dollars!

Studies have shown that running is highly effective in reducing symptoms of depression. While it may not cure this illness, running a mile a day is a proven mood booster and is a natural way of combating low feelings of worry and self-doubt. 

3. You Will Sleep Better

Having trouble sleeping? We’ve got it covered! 

It is hard to find any negatives when it comes to running a mile a day. Who doesn’t want to sleep better? While the act of running itself can make you feel tired, it is a bit more scientific than just that. The release of endorphins can help rid the brain of feelings of anxiety and worry, which keep us awake at night. A lack of negative thoughts helps us drift easily into a deep sleep. 

Running a mile a day also raises body temperature. The act of cooling down also plays a part in getting a good night’s sleep. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll sleep like a baby every night, you will certainly notice a huge difference in your sleeping pattern over time. 

4. Improves Cardiorespiratory System

The act of running makes blood pump more quickly around the body, which strengthens the cardiac muscles. The amount of air we breathe in and out when running improves the respiratory system resulting in increased cardiorespiratory health. 

Running a mile a day keeps this important system in good condition and helps prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as giving your immune system a boost. 

It’s worth noting that running a mile a day isn’t just about getting those physical results but thinking about your future health. 

5. Stress Reliever

The next time you’re thinking about causing some serious damage due to stress, grab your running shoes and take them out on the tarmac!

Running a mile a day can be therapeutic if you struggle with stress. Many people find listening to music or podcasts while running is a great way to relieve the symptoms, and it is hard to be stressed when your body is flooded with endorphins. 

Being stressed puts the human body under a significant amount of pressure which inevitably leads to illness. Let’s face it, we all get stressed at times, and running a mile a day helps to combat those unwanted feelings. 

6. New Hobby

It might not be as relaxing as sewing or baking, but running a mile a day could be your new hobby! 

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a huge rise in runners due to gyms being closed for months at a time. Social media was inundated with running challenges, with many beginner runners taking part too. 

If running is new to you, you might want to start with other new runners. Your local park may have a runners club where members of the local community meet up once a week to run together. This is helpful to people who may feel self-conscious if running alone and being in a group of people might make you feel safer outdoors. 

7. Builds Strong Bones

Running makes bones stronger, and running a mile a day is the best way to keep them strong. The act of running puts quite a lot of stress on our bones, and while this may seem dangerous, it is actually the opposite. 

When we exercise, our muscles develop tiny tears or rips that repair themselves, which gradually result in bigger muscles. Running affects the bones in a similar way which strengthens them. Having strong bones prevents illnesses such as osteoporosis which weakens the bones rendering them more likely to break. 

Running a mile a day will improve your bone density resulting in fewer breakages and increased bone health. 

8. Improves Life Expectancy 

Recent studies show that running can increase life expectancy by three years compared to non-runners. Surely that is one benefit worth knowing about!

As discussed above, running a mile a day reduces the risk of many illnesses and diseases and can be done in as little as ten minutes. So what are you waiting for? 

9. Lowers Risk of Cancer

It is widely known that exercise, in general, can lower the risk of certain cancers. One study showed that physical activity – such as running a mile a day – lowered the risk of 13 out of 26 cancers. 

Such cancers included breast, lung, and liver cancer which are some of the biggest killers. 

10. Better Brain Activity

The oxygen taken in when running is great for the brain, and while there is not much science to say it necessarily makes you smarter, it certainly helps with brain function.

Runners often maintain well-balanced diets and sleep better, which again enhances mental performance. Therefore, running a mile a day will help you make changes to your lifestyle, making you feel more focused, happier, and above all, healthier. 

Setbacks

We can see that running a mile a day has some amazing benefits, including stronger bones, a lower risk of cancer, and better brain function. However, everything has its setbacks, and here are some that can be connected with running. 

Overtraining

Also known as UPS (Unexplained Underperformance Syndrome), overtraining is a slump in your usual performance that is often caused by low energy levels. 

UPS is quite different from the tired feeling that individuals may come across after a long run. These long-lasting symptoms often include extremely low energy levels, stiff muscles, and low libido. 

Running a mile a day can lead to overtraining, particularly if you are a new runner. It is easy to stretch your limits by pushing yourself too hard. Below are some tips that may help prevent overtraining.

Rest

If you feel like you need to rest, then you need to rest! 

Resting allows your muscles to recuperate, which is important and helps prevent serious damage. Depending on your physical ability, running a mile a day may be too much and if it is, take it down to running 2-3 times a week instead. 

Don’t Punish Yourself

Don’t make every run a challenge. Yes, it is good to frequently spice it up and really push yourself but doing this every single time will not end well physically or mentally. 

You know your body better than anyone else, and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t push yourself. Instead, try running at a slower pace on a flat surface with no incline. A run is a run at the end of the day, regardless of how challenging it may be. 

Fuel Your Body

Putting the right food in your body is crucial when it comes to any kind of exercise. Running burns a lot of energy; therefore, if you run a mile a day on an empty stomach, there is no energy for your body to burn. 

A diet consisting of plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and copious amounts of vegetables and fruit is important if you want the best results. Abs are made in the kitchen, after all! 

Performance May Plateau

Another common setback when running a mile a day is that you may come to a plateau. This happens to even the most elite runners and can be frustrating when you have been trying so hard to reach your goal. 

You may experience a plateau if you are trying to run the whole mile without stopping but just can’t do it. Or perhaps you can run the whole mile, but then it seems impossible on a route with a different incline. 

Here are some tips to help you break the cycle. 

Take A Break

Relax. Take a few days away from your running shoes for a well-needed rest. If you have been running a mile a day for a long time, your body won’t forget all the hard work you’ve put in if you take a break. 

Muscle memory is real, and when you feel ready to get back out there, your body will be raring to go. 

Warm-up and Cool Down

The two most important phases of any exercise are warming up and cooling down. 

This helps to warm up the muscles in order for them to stretch to prevent damage. Failing to warm up before a run can lead to aching limbs which may be the cause of a plateau. 

Try A Different Workout

Maybe you want to reduce the time it takes to run a mile a day. It is easy to stick at the same pace when running but frustrating if you want to be faster. 

Adding short sprints to your workout can help to reduce the time it takes to run a mile. If on your run, you come across a stop sign or a mailbox, why not set yourself a goal or sprint as fast as you can to them. This may help when trying to break the plateau. 

Injuries

A huge setback that can interrupt your mile-a-day routine is if you sustain an injury. 

While some can be minor injuries, others can be life-changing and may stop you from running altogether. Let’s take a look at some injuries that can be sustained from running too much.

Achilles Tendonitis

This can last for several months and occurs when a cord is injured that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. This happens to runners who suddenly increase the duration or intensity of their runs.

The most obvious symptom is pain or swelling in the heel of your foot. The area may be tender to touch, and motion in that area may be limited for some time. 

The good news is that Achilles tendonitis usually ‘heels’ (see what we did there?) on its own and requires no medical assistance other than anti-inflammatory drugs.

Plantar Fasciitis

This is caused when a thick band of tissue, known as the plantar fascia, is damaged when running. The plantar fascia connects your toes to your heel bone, and the pain can usually be felt between the heel and arch of the foot. 

Again, this injury can take several weeks to recover from, and health professionals recommend plenty of rest and elevation of the foot when possible. 

Shin Splints

Shin splints or MTSS (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) occur in the shin bones in the lower leg. The pain feels similar to bruising and happens when running on hard surfaces. 

Luckily, shin splints usually get better on their own and rarely require medical help. The worst thing you can do is continue to run, so if you still want to exercise, swimming or cycling is a great alternative. 

It can take up to six weeks for your shins to repair, but if you feel like running earlier, build your running up gradually and choose soft areas such as grass to run on. 

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Known as ITBS, iliotibial band syndrome causes pain on the outside of the knee and worsens over time if not dealt with in the beginning stages. 

Without getting too technical, the iliotibial band is a strong band of tissue that runs the length of the leg from the outside of the thigh. 

Symptoms include swelling and tenderness of the knee. The pain can often be felt throughout the leg as far as the hip. Symptoms are often felt when running for long periods or downhill. 

Mild cases of ITBS can often be dealt with at home, and more severe cases may require physiotherapy. Over-the-counter painkillers can help reduce pain and inflammation, and again, plenty of rest is recommended.  

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Commonly seen in women aged between twenty and forty, patellofemoral pain syndrome (PPS) happens in the knee area and individuals often complain about pain at the front and the back of the knee and around the kneecap. 

Often referred to as ‘runners knee,’ PPS can take several weeks to recover from, and severe cases may require help from a physiotherapist. Individuals suffering from this injury are advised to rest and take anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal drugs, which can be prescribed over the counter. 

How Many Calories Does Running A Mile Burn?

This depends on the speed you are running at. Running at a fast pace will burn more calories as opposed to running at a slower pace.

If you plan to run a mile a day in order to lose weight, other factors such as diet are also important to look at. For example, in order to lose 1 pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories. However, it is unlikely that you would burn 3500 from running one mile a day. 

To lose weight, an individual needs to burn more calories than they put into their bodies. So if you feel like your weight is increasing, you may need to reassess your diet and exercise plan. 

An individual with a weight of 160 pounds will burn around 117 calories when running at a pace of 5 mph. However, an individual with a weight of 200 pounds will burn more calories (around 145 per mile). 

This happens because a person heavier in weight has to work their body harder, resulting in more calories burned.

How to Run A Mile A Day for Beginners

Here are some tips to help you run your first mile. 

Correct Clothing and Sneakers

To begin with, you will need to invest in a pair of decent running sneakers that will support the feet and ankles. A good pair of running sneakers don’t need to be expensive and can be found in most sportswear stores. 

Wearing nylon-based clothing is advised as you are going to sweat – a lot. Cotton-based items will become wet and heavy due to sweat or rain. Not a good look! 

It is important for women to invest in a good sports bra that is the correct size. Running without one can be uncomfortable and may cause damage to the breasts. 

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water before, during, and after your run will keep the body hydrated and focused during your runs.

Running A Mile A Day

Don’t expect to run a whole mile without stopping on the first day or even the first week, for that matter. Running is all about stamina which takes a while to build up. 

You may find that you can only run for a couple of minutes before taking a break – which is completely normal. Your first run will mostly consist of walking with short runs in between. A good way to begin is by running for 100 meters and walking for 300 meters. Repeat this until you have reached the one-mile mark. 

From here, gradually build the amount of running time while decreasing the amount of walking time. By the end of the first month, you will be well on your way to running that mile a day without stopping. 

It is important to remember not to push yourself too far. If you are in pain or start to feel unwell, take a break and walk. 

An End Note

Running a mile a day is beneficial for our physical and mental well-being. 

While the setbacks can seem daunting (particularly the injuries), the act of running a mile a day far outweighs what could or could not happen. So lace up your sneakers and throw on your headphones. 3,2,1…GO!

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