9 Benefits of Running a Mile Every Day

Health & Wellness

Run a mile every day and you may unlock these 9 health benefits.

Last updated: June 3, 2024
6 min read
9 Benefits of Running a Mile Every Day

For beginners, the physical and mental health benefits of running might seem like they are out of reach. But you don’t have to run at high speeds or long distances to reap the rewards of running. In fact, running just a mile a day may reduce your risk of injury associated with long-distance running while allowing you to realize many of the same benefits.

Running one mile a day won’t be enough to maintain optimal physical fitness, but running a mile a day is a great place to start, whether outside or on a treadmill. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week in addition to strength training. Check out all the benefits runners can expect if they incorporate a daily mile run into their fitness routine.

  1. 1.Improve Your Heart Health

    Running can improve markers of cardiorespiratory fitness because it forces your cardiac muscles and lungs to work harder, strengthening your heart and increasing your lung capacity. Runners tend to have a lower resting heart rate and a higher level of oxygen intake. That makes it easier to climb up several flights of stairs or tackle a long hike. What’s more, running even five minutes per day as a workout can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by 45 percent.

  2. 2.Keep Your Stress Levels in Check

    Too much stress can cause all kinds of physical and behavioral symptoms, from headache and fatigue to decreased motivation. Running as a workout helps reduce stress hormones so you can feel your best. And it simultaneously stimulates endorphin and endocannabinoid production, which promotes relaxation and a positive mood. Runners may find that the repetitive motion helps to clear the day’s worries from the mind.

  3. 3.Fight Off Depression

    Aerobic exercise such as running has a similar impact on the brain as antidepressant medication and some studies have found it can be as effective in treating depression. It allows new neural pathways to form and provides for hippocampus growth, which can improve symptoms of depression. If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, running a daily mile could help to provide the mood boost you need.

  4. 4.Feel the “Runner’s High”

    Even if you’re not experiencing depression, a mile run can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. That’s thanks to the endocannabinoid production increase brought on by aerobic activity. Exercise increases levels of anandamide in your body — the same chemical responsible for the effects of marijuana use. So it’s not unusual to feel warm and fuzzy after a good run.

  5. 5.Improve Your Learning and Memory

    A regular moderate-intensity running routine increases the size of certain regions of your brain responsible for memory and thinking. And indirectly, the benefits of reduced stress and improved mood can help prevent cognitive impairment. What’s more, there are also immediate effects on learning. A study published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory revealed that after a session of high-impact running, participants were able to learn new vocabulary faster. So going for a run before studying a new concept could help you acquire the new material with greater ease.

  6. 6.Shed Weight

    If you maintain your current eating habits and you only run one mile a day, you may burn enough calories to see weight loss at about the rate of one pound of weight per month. If you’re hoping to lose additional weight, you can include more aerobic activity and lower your calorie intake. But if running a daily mile as a workout is all you have time for right now, you may notice gradual weight loss due to the additional calories burned.

  7. 7.Strengthen Your Bones

    As you age, you can experience bone density loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. Strength training can be helpful in building strong bones, but high-impact exercise such as running has an even greater positive effect on bone mineral density. Strong bones also support strong muscles and decrease your risk of injury.

  8. 8.Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

    Exercise dilates your blood vessels, improving blood flow. It only takes about 10 minutes of brisk walking to notice the effects. And regular running helps decrease your resting blood pressure, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. Running can also increase high-density lipid protein cholesterol, the healthy cholesterol, while stimulating enzymes that help reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood.

  9. 9.Reduce Risk of Cancer

    Though researchers don’t know how exercise leads to a reduced risk of cancer, many possibilities have been proposed, including the ability for exercise to reduce inflammation and improve immune system function, preventing obesity and high levels of insulin, and lowering hormones and growth factors that play a role in cancer. Studies show that aerobic exercise such as running can reduce your risk of bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer and stomach cancer.

How to Start Running

  • Set a goal: Set short-term and long-term goals for what you hope to achieve from running.
  • Get a great pair of running shoes: Make sure you have a well-fitting pair of running shoes with plenty of cushioning for shock-absorption and a breathable, lightweight construction. Check out Nike’s best everyday running shoes for men and women.
  • Warm up before running: Doing dynamic stretches such as leg swings and lunges or walking briskly as part of a training warm-up will get the blood flowing and reduce your risk of injury.
  • Start at a slow pace: If you’re new to running, start with a jog and gradually increase your pace.
  • Integrate walking intervals: If you struggle with endurance, try alternating between walking and running.
  • Pause to stretch: Make sure you take a break to stretch out your hamstrings.
  • Incorporate strength training: Resistance training for your lower body and core will help strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments required to run without discomfort.
  • Build up running time: If your goal is to run at greater speeds or longer distances, start by adding time to your run. If you typically run for 15 minutes, add a minute to your run time as you start to build strength and endurance.

    You may also need to give your body at least one rest day a week, especially if you start running more than one mile a day.
Is Running One Mile a Day Enough?

While you’ll see numerous benefits from running one mile a day, this type of short daily run typically isn't enough exercise to maintain optimal fitness. You’ll need about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week in addition to strength training to stay at your healthiest.

Is Running Three Miles a Day a Transformation?

If you run three miles a day, you’ll likely begin to see your fitness and health transform. You may lose weight, improve your mental health and cognitive functioning, sleep better, strengthen your bones and improve your heart and cardio health.

Originally published: December 22, 2021

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