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The Benefits Of Running A Mile A Day + A How-To Guide

As a Certified Running Coach, I’m always excited when new runners come to me for coaching or want tips on how to get started running.

Sometimes, beginners have super lofty running goals—like running a half marathon or marathon—and while I’m always thrilled to support the ambitions of new runners, I try to make it clear that it will take a long time to safely build up to running such long distances.

Starting running one mile a day is a fantastic, approachable running goal for new runners or runners trying to return to a consistent routine after a long break from regular exercise.

In this running a mile a day training guide, we will discuss the health benefits of running one mile a day, the potential risks, how long it takes to run a mile a day, and tips for new runners who want to establish a daily running routine.

We will cover: 

A person running one mile a day on the coast.

Let’s get started!

How Far Is A Mile?

Before we look at the physical and mental health benefits of running a mile a day and how to start with a daily mile running routine, let’s cover the basics: how far is a mile, and how long does it take to run a mile?

For runners more familiar with kilometers, one mile is 1609 meters, equivalent to 1.61 kilometers.

If you decide to run a mile on a standard 400-meter running track, you will need to run just over four full laps to run a mile because a mile is 1609 meters, and four laps of the track are 1600 meters.

Although the exact length of a city block varies based on the city and streets, most city blocks are approximately 1/20th of a mile, so if you want to run a mile along the city streets, you will need to run about 20 blocks.

Of course, how long it takes to run a mile will depend on your running pace or the speed you are running.

According to Strava, when it comes to training, the average pace for a logged run is 9:53 per mile.1Strava | Stories. (n.d.). Stories.strava.com. Retrieved January 24, 2024, from https://stories.strava.com/#:~:text=The%20average%20run%20on%20Strava

‌This is right around a 10 minute mile pace, so a good ballpark for your mile running workouts is around 10 minutes.

As you improve your fitness level, you will be able to run a mile faster, and you can also work on your endurance for longer runs if you decide that you would like to take on longer distances than one mile every day.

A close-up of two people's feet talking on a stone walkway.

What Are The Benefits Of Running A Mile A Day?

Beginners are often aware that getting regular exercise can promote better physical health and mental health and support overall wellness and well-being. But is running a mile a day good enough?

However, knowing the benefits of running a mile a day can help new runners feel more motivated to stick with a daily running habit.

Here are some of the top benefits of running 1 mile a day:

#1: Can Increase Your Lifespan

Research2Pedisic, Z., Shrestha, N., Kovalchik, S., Stamatakis, E., Liangruenrom, N., Grgic, J., Titze, S., Biddle, S. J., Bauman, A. E., & Oja, P. (2019). Is running associated with a lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, and is the more the better? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine54(15), bjsports-2018-100493. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-100493 has found that runners have about a 25-30% lower risk of all-cause mortality, and consistent running has been found3Lee, D.-C., Brellenthin, A. G., Thompson, P. D., Sui, X., Lee, I-Min., & Lavie, C. J. (2017). Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases60(1), 45–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2017.03.005to increase your life expectancy by at least three years. Plus, a daily mile run might be all it takes to reap these health benefits.

In fact, a study that looked at the disease and mortality risk of 13,000 runners over nearly 15 years found that running as little as six miles per week—or roughly 52 minutes total—effectively reduced the risk of all-cause and CVD mortality by 30% and 45%, respectively, relative to non-runners. 

According to research, one of the health benefits of a running routine is a decreased risk of 26 different cancers, independent of other risk factors.4Moore, S. C., Lee, I-Min., Weiderpass, E., Campbell, P. T., Sampson, J. N., Kitahara, C. M., Keadle, S. K., Arem, H., Berrington de Gonzalez, A., Hartge, P., Adami, H.-O., Blair, C. K., Borch, K. B., Boyd, E., Check, D. P., Fournier, A., Freedman, N. D., Gunter, M., Johannson, M., & Khaw, K.-T. (2016). Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine176(6), 816–825. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548

#2: Can Improve Cardiovascular Health

For example, studies show that running as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day and as slow as 6 miles per hour (10 km/hr) significantly reduces the risk of death from heart disease.5Lee, D., Pate, R. R., Lavie, C. J., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology64(5), 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058

Daily running as part of a cardio fitness routine can be as effective at lowering blood pressure as anti-hypertensive medications.6Naci, H., Salcher-Konrad, M., Dias, S., Blum, M. R., Sahoo, S. A., Nunan, D., & Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2018). How does exercise treatment compare with antihypertensive medications? A network meta-analysis of 391 randomised controlled trials assessing exercise and medication effects on systolic blood pressure. British Journal of Sports Medicine53(14), 859–869. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-099921

Cardio exercise can also improve other heart disease risk factors, such as lowering LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels.

#3: Boosts Your Mood

While running one mile might not be enough to give you a full-blown “runner’s high,” physical activity can produce endorphins and endocannabinoids (natural painkillers). As such, a daily run can reduce symptoms of depression and can boost your mood.7Kvam, S., Kleppe, C. L., Nordhus, I. H., & Hovland, A. (2016). Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders202(202), 67–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.03.063

Getting consistent exercise, like establishing a run streak, can help you get into the habit of setting and achieving goals, boosting self-esteem and mental health.

A woman jogging on a quiet street.

#4: Decreases Stress

One of the first benefits of running you’ll notice after you start running a mile or longer distances is that running helps decrease stress and can be a great way to release pent-up frustration and anxiety.

#5: Improves Fitness Level

Beginners who start running daily will notice a decreased resting heart rate as their fitness level improves.

#6: Supports Your Immune System

A one-mile run every day may support your immune system.

Studies show that getting regular cardio exercise, like a daily mile run, can reduce inflammation, support the gut microbiota that fights pathogens, improve the activity of immune cells, and reduce the risk of infections.8Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science8(3), 201–217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009

‌However, rest and recovery are also important for your immune system. Running a mile every single day or doing a run streak with longer distances can cause stress and suppress your immune system.

#7: May Improve Joint Health

New runners who first start running often worry that running is bad for your knees, but research has shown that marathoners and long-distance runners may have healthier knees than sedentary age-matched peers.9Ponzio, D. Y., Syed, U. A. M., Purcell, K., Cooper, A. M., Maltenfort, M., Shaner, J., & Chen, A. F. (2018). Low Prevalence of Hip and Knee Arthritis in Active Marathon Runners. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery100(2), 131–137. https://doi.org/10.2106/jbjs.16.01071

Studies have also found that running can improve the health of the spine.10Mitchell, U. H., Bowden, J. A., Larson, R. E., Belavy, D. L., & Owen, P. J. (2020). Long-term running in middle-aged men and intervertebral disc health, a cross-sectional pilot study. PLOS ONE15(2), e0229457. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229457

‌#8: Supports Weight Loss

A daily running routine can support weight loss when coupled with healthy eating habits.

Therefore, sticking with a fitness routine like regular running may decrease the risk of obesity and obesity-related health conditions.

Two people walking on a bright, sunny day.

#9: Boosts Brain Health

Running every day may boost brain health by increasing cerebral blood flow, which stimulates the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein increases the proliferation and longevity of neurons in the brain.11Dinoff, A., Herrmann, N., Swardfager, W., & Lanctôt, K. L. (2017). The effect of acute exercise on blood concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy adults: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Neuroscience46(1), 1635–1646. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13603

#10: Promotes Restful Sleep

Although running one mile every day might not be enough, research has found that running for 30 minutes in the morning can promote more restful sleep at night.12Kalak, N., Gerber, M., Kirov, R., Mikoteit, T., Yordanova, J., Pühse, U., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Brand, S. (2012). Daily Morning Running for 3 Weeks Improved Sleep and Psychological Functioning in Healthy Adolescents Compared With Controls. Journal of Adolescent Health51(6), 615–622. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.02.020

#11: Can Reduce The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Running a mile every day can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

For example, one massive study that followed 19,000 adults over the course of six years found that runners had a 72% lower rate of developing diabetes compared to non-runners.13Wang, Y., Lee, D., Brellenthin, A. G., Eijsvogels, T. M. H., Sui, X., Church, T. S., Lavie, C. J., & Blair, S. N. (2019). Leisure-Time Running Reduces the Risk of Incident Type 2 Diabetes. The American Journal of Medicine132(10), 1225–1232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.04.035

#12: Keeps Your Mind Sharp

Evidence suggests regular exercise can keep your mind sharp and improve executive function and working memory.14Guiney, H., & Machado, L. (2012). Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review20(1), 73–86. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-012-0345-4

‌New runners who set a goal to run just one mile a day are choosing a safe, attainable, and sustainable running goal that reduces the risk of injury relative to trying a run streak with long distances every single day.

‌Running a mile a day and establishing a running routine can help you progress to longer distances so that you can train for a 5k, Parkrun event, or longer runs (perhaps eventually a half marathon or marathon!).

It also supports weight loss and gives you confidence by hitting new running milestones.

Two women giving each other a high five after exercising.

What Happens If You Run 1 Mile Every Day?

Running 1 mile a day is a great goal for beginners looking to start a running routine.

However, while the distance, impact stress, and time commitment of running one mile every day can be manageable for someone at a lower fitness level, running a mile every single day as a run streak with no days off does not give your body time to ever get a true break to recover.

While consistency is definitely important—and you want to get enough physical activity every week to improve your fitness level and meet the guidelines for cardio exercise set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention15Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 2). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. and the British Heart Foundationyou also need to balance exercise with recovery and vary your workouts.16Understanding physical activity. (2022). Bhf.org.uk. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/publications/being-active/understanding-physical-activity#

‌Running is a very repetitive motion, and the impact stresses are about 2-3 times your body weight every step you take while running.

Therefore, the cells and tissues in your body need time to repair the microscopic damage incurred by running.

The biggest drawback to running one mile every day is that it can increase your risk of overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, IT band syndrome, and shin splints.17van der Worp, M. P., ten Haaf, D. S. M., van Cingel, R., de Wijer, A., Nijhuis-van der Sanden, M. W. G., & Staal, J. B. (2015). Injuries in Runners; A Systematic Review on Risk Factors and Sex Differences. PLOS ONE10(2), e0114937. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0114937

In fact, a 12-month retrospective study18Ristolainen, L., Kettunen, J. A., Waller, B., Heinonen, A., & Kujala, U. M. (2014). Training-related risk factors in the etiology of overuse injuries in endurance sports. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness54(1), 78–87. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24445548/ of 446 male and female endurance athletes, found that athletes who took fewer than two rest days per week during their training season had a 5.2-fold risk increase of sustaining an overuse injury compared to athletes who took at least two rest days per week.

A woman walking on the side of a busy street.

Accordingly, I highly recommend taking rest days or doing low-impact cross-training rather than running every day to reduce your risk of injury. 

Research also suggests that running every day can also lead to functional overreaching or overtraining syndrome.19Kellmann, M. (2010). Preventing overtraining in athletes in high-intensity sports and stress/recovery monitoring. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports20(2), 95–102. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01192.x

Overtraining syndrome can cause performance declines, sleep disruptions, depression or irritability, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, appetite changes, and a weakened immune system.

While running just one mile a day may not be enough to cause overtraining syndrome, a daily running workout can be stressful on your body, and at least one day off instead of running every single day can decrease the risk of injury and overtraining.

It’s also important to remember that when it comes to the best fitness routine, doing the same type of exercise every single day, be it running, cycling, walking, or otherwise, subjects your muscles to the same motions and workloads day after day. 

Not only can this increase the risk of injuries—as just discussed—but only running in your fitness routine can limit your overall wellness and fitness level.

Doing different types of cardio exercise—running, walking, swimming, hiking, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, elliptical, etc.—introduces new movement patterns and enables you to utilize different muscles or at least the same muscles differently.

It is also important to include strength training, flexibility, and mobility workouts.

Finally, running a mile every day can lead to boredom or mental burnout, particularly if you don’t vary your routes, pace, or running companion.

Two people power walking in a park looking at each other.

How Can I Start Running a Mile a Day?

The following are some of the most important considerations and tips for how to start running a mile a day for beginners:

#1: Start With Walking

If you are a new runner, running a mile without stopping might not be realistic, even if you have been doing other types of cardio exercise. 

Running is high-impact, high-intensity exercise, so it can take time to build up the cardiovascular endurance and musculoskeletal strength to run one mile without stopping. 

Taking a run/walk approach where you interspersed walking breaks into your mile distance is a good way to build up your fitness level for running a mile without stopping.

#2: Take Days Off

I strongly suggest taking every other day off over the first week of your new running routine to give your muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissues time to adapt to your new fitness routine without increasing the risk of injury.

For example, during the first week of starting your daily running goal, instead of running a mile every single day, run/jog with walk breaks and do a mile every other day.

The next week, you can try to run the full mile every other day with a rest day in between.

In the third week, you can start running two days in a row with a rest day every third day.

Slowly build up until you are running 5 to 6 days per week.

I still do not suggest running a mile every single day. You should take at least one rest day per week and incorporate other forms of cardio exercise and strength training into your overall fitness routine.

You can also vary the distances and speeds you run so you don’t always jog a mile at the same pace.

Interval training, hills, trail running, running on grass, and longer distance runs are great ways to boost your overall fitness and running performance.

A man jogging in a park holding a towel.

#3: Get the Right Gear

Even if you only plan to run one mile a day and never take on long distance running, you still should get proper running shoes that provide ample cushioning and support.

Visit your local running store to have your running form and biomechanics analyzed so that you get the best running shoes for your needs. 

#4: Don’t Worry About Pace

Especially when you are establishing your running routine, you do not need to worry about how fast you are running.

Run by effort, not by pace. 

You will likely experience muscle soreness and fatigue, particularly as your body is getting used to running, so listen to your body and go easy when you are feeling sore, or consider taking a walking day or a rest day.

#5: Follow a Training Plan

Following a running plan for beginners rather than coming up with your own running mile run routine can be the safest way to prevent injuries and progress your fitness.

A beginner’s running plan will lay out exactly how far or how long you should run every day, how often you should run versus taking a rest day, etc.

A couch to 5K training plan can be a great starting place.

You can also check out this running plan for beginners as a good place to start.

Enjoy the journey!

Two women bent over after a run, looking at each other smiling.

References

  • 1
    Strava | Stories. (n.d.). Stories.strava.com. Retrieved January 24, 2024, from https://stories.strava.com/#:~:text=The%20average%20run%20on%20Strava
  • 2
    Pedisic, Z., Shrestha, N., Kovalchik, S., Stamatakis, E., Liangruenrom, N., Grgic, J., Titze, S., Biddle, S. J., Bauman, A. E., & Oja, P. (2019). Is running associated with a lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, and is the more the better? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine54(15), bjsports-2018-100493. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-100493
  • 3
    Lee, D.-C., Brellenthin, A. G., Thompson, P. D., Sui, X., Lee, I-Min., & Lavie, C. J. (2017). Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases60(1), 45–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2017.03.005
  • 4
    Moore, S. C., Lee, I-Min., Weiderpass, E., Campbell, P. T., Sampson, J. N., Kitahara, C. M., Keadle, S. K., Arem, H., Berrington de Gonzalez, A., Hartge, P., Adami, H.-O., Blair, C. K., Borch, K. B., Boyd, E., Check, D. P., Fournier, A., Freedman, N. D., Gunter, M., Johannson, M., & Khaw, K.-T. (2016). Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine176(6), 816–825. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548
  • 5
    Lee, D., Pate, R. R., Lavie, C. J., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology64(5), 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058
  • 6
    Naci, H., Salcher-Konrad, M., Dias, S., Blum, M. R., Sahoo, S. A., Nunan, D., & Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2018). How does exercise treatment compare with antihypertensive medications? A network meta-analysis of 391 randomised controlled trials assessing exercise and medication effects on systolic blood pressure. British Journal of Sports Medicine53(14), 859–869. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-099921
  • 7
    Kvam, S., Kleppe, C. L., Nordhus, I. H., & Hovland, A. (2016). Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders202(202), 67–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.03.063
  • 8
    Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science8(3), 201–217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009
  • 9
    Ponzio, D. Y., Syed, U. A. M., Purcell, K., Cooper, A. M., Maltenfort, M., Shaner, J., & Chen, A. F. (2018). Low Prevalence of Hip and Knee Arthritis in Active Marathon Runners. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery100(2), 131–137. https://doi.org/10.2106/jbjs.16.01071
  • 10
    Mitchell, U. H., Bowden, J. A., Larson, R. E., Belavy, D. L., & Owen, P. J. (2020). Long-term running in middle-aged men and intervertebral disc health, a cross-sectional pilot study. PLOS ONE15(2), e0229457. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229457
  • 11
    Dinoff, A., Herrmann, N., Swardfager, W., & Lanctôt, K. L. (2017). The effect of acute exercise on blood concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy adults: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Neuroscience46(1), 1635–1646. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13603
  • 12
    Kalak, N., Gerber, M., Kirov, R., Mikoteit, T., Yordanova, J., Pühse, U., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Brand, S. (2012). Daily Morning Running for 3 Weeks Improved Sleep and Psychological Functioning in Healthy Adolescents Compared With Controls. Journal of Adolescent Health51(6), 615–622. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.02.020
  • 13
    Wang, Y., Lee, D., Brellenthin, A. G., Eijsvogels, T. M. H., Sui, X., Church, T. S., Lavie, C. J., & Blair, S. N. (2019). Leisure-Time Running Reduces the Risk of Incident Type 2 Diabetes. The American Journal of Medicine132(10), 1225–1232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.04.035
  • 14
    Guiney, H., & Machado, L. (2012). Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review20(1), 73–86. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-012-0345-4
  • 15
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 2). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • 16
  • 17
    van der Worp, M. P., ten Haaf, D. S. M., van Cingel, R., de Wijer, A., Nijhuis-van der Sanden, M. W. G., & Staal, J. B. (2015). Injuries in Runners; A Systematic Review on Risk Factors and Sex Differences. PLOS ONE10(2), e0114937. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0114937
  • 18
    Ristolainen, L., Kettunen, J. A., Waller, B., Heinonen, A., & Kujala, U. M. (2014). Training-related risk factors in the etiology of overuse injuries in endurance sports. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness54(1), 78–87. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24445548/
  • 19
    Kellmann, M. (2010). Preventing overtraining in athletes in high-intensity sports and stress/recovery monitoring. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports20(2), 95–102. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01192.x
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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