It can be very challenging to start a fitness routine, let alone take up running. If you’ve been inactive for a long time, imagining yourself running every day likely seems nearly as inconceivable as winning the lottery or taking a trip around the world.
After all, in accordance with Newton’s Laws of Motion and the concept of inertia, an object at rest tends to stay at rest.
With that said, the second half of that central tenet of physics is, “An object in motion tends to stay in motion.” Just as it can be difficult to start running when you are out of shape, it can be challenging for some runners to force themselves into actually taking rest days rather than running every day.
Some runners feel guilty taking rest days, or they worry they’ll lose fitness or gain weight, or they simply love their run so much that it can be unappealing to fathom a day each week without running.
But, is running every day good for you? What are the benefits of running every day? Are there risks associated with running every day? In this article, we will answer these questions and explore the pros and cons of running every day.
We will look at:
- 18 Benefits of Running Every Day
- Is it OK to Run Every Day?
Let’s get started!
18 Benefits of Running Every Day
Running is a very popular form of exercise due to its relative accessibility compared to other sports and its many physical and health benefits.
According to Statista, in 2017, nearly 56 million adults participated in running, jogging, and trail running in the United States alone.
Let’s examine some of the benefits of running every day:
#1: Running Every Day Increases Your Lifespan
Although death is an inevitable part of life, how long we have on this Earth and how rich and healthy we feel during those years can be improved by consistent running.
Research has found that runners have about a 25-30% lower risk of all-cause mortality, and consistent running has been found to increase life expectancy by at least three years.
In fact, according to a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings that looked at the disease and mortality risk of 13,000 runners over nearly 15 years, 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.
Moreover, runners with this low volume of training had an average increase in survival over non-runners of 3.0 and 4.1 years for all-cause and CVD-related survival, respectively.
#2: Running Every Day Improves Your Cardiovascular Health
Running strengthens your heart and lungs because your heart rate has to increase as you run to pump more blood (and thus oxygen and nutrients) to your working muscles.
Over time, with consistent running, your heart, blood vessels, and lungs adapt and become stronger, healthier, and more resistant to cardiovascular disease.
In fact, studies show that running as little as 5 to 10 min/day and as slow as 6 miles per hour (10 km/hr) or slower is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
#3: Running Every Day Improves Your Aerobic Capacity
It only takes 30 seconds of chasing after your kids or sprinting to catch a subway or bus to know that running can leave you feeling relatively breathless, as it’s a cardiovascularly-demanding activity.
The good news is that with consistent training, your cardiovascular system adapts and your fitness improves.
Running every day increases your VO2 max, or aerobic capacity, which makes it easier to jump into any sort of physical activity without feeling so winded.
#4: Running Every Day Helps You Run Faster and Longer
All runners want to get faster and/or be able to run longer distances, and running every day is a good way to get you closer to those goals.
If you only run sporadically, say one day this week, two days the next week, and then maybe one or two days the following week, and so on, it will be difficult to make progress as a runner and see your fitness improve.
Your training needs to be consistent—which usually involves running at least 3 days per week—for your body to really adapt enough for you to see noticeable improvements in your fitness and body composition.
#5: Running Every Day Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
Rates of hypertension, or high blood pressure, are at an all-time high, but some studies suggest that running can lower your blood pressure just as much—if not more so—than common anti-hypertensive medications.
#6: Running Every Day Can Improve Joint Health
Although many people assume that running is bad for your knees or will lead to an eventual hip replacement due to the high-impact stress, habitual running may actually decrease the risk of arthritis and improve the health of your joints.
Studies have found that running can improve the health of the spine, while other research has shown that marathoners and long-distance runners may have healthier knees than sedentary age-matched peers.
#7: Running Every Day Can Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
Running burns blood glucose and stored glycogen, and can reduce body fat, both of which can contribute to improved insulin sensitivity.
For this reason, running has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 72%.
#8: Running Every Day Builds Muscle
As long as you are properly fueling your body with enough calories and protein to support your training, running can help build muscle and increase strength in your legs, core, and arms.
#9: Running Every Day Establishes a Fitness Routine
As we touched upon in the intro, running every day can help establish a fitness routine that keeps you motivated to continue.
Some runners thrive on the prospect of maintaining a running streak of running every day with no days off.
If running every day helps keep you from falling off the bandwagon of exercising altogether, it might be a good idea to do a daily run, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes.
#10: Running Every Day Can Help You Achieve a Healthy Weight
Running is a total-body workout that burns a lot of calories. Therefore, when paired with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, running can be an effective means of losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.
#11: Running Every Day Can Keep Your Mind Sharp
A daily run can be some of the best medicine for your brain. Evidence suggests that aerobic exercise can improve cognitive function, and focus, and can slow the progression of age-related cognitive decline.
#12: Running Every Day Can Lead to Restful Sleep
Although too much running, or overtraining, can potentially interfere with good sleep, research has found that running for 30 minutes in the morning can promote more restful sleep at night.
#13: Running Every Day Can Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers
Cancer is certainly one of the more concerning diagnoses, but running every day might just help protect you from certain cancers.
According to research, running has been shown to help reduce the risk of 26 different cancers, independent of other risk factors.
Moreover, evidence suggests that runners who do find themselves fighting cancer have higher survival rates and manage treatments better than non-exercising peers.
#14: Running Every Day Can Make You Happier
Running can alleviate symptoms of depression and can elevate your mood, which can be great for anyone suffering from depression.
Almost every runner feels at least a little happier after coming home from even a short run.
#15: Running Every Day Can Boost Your Self-Confidence
Getting in a run every day is like achieving a “win” every single day. You’ve done something great for your body.
Running every day can increase your confidence because it can build self-efficacy for establishing difficult, but healthy habits, and conquering seemingly lofty goals.
#16: Running Every Day Can Reduce Stress
A daily run can potentially serve as a natural, drug-free way to reduce stress. Exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress, decrease levels of cortisol, and reduce anxiety.
According to research, running may also help you deal with future stressful events and be more resilient to life’s stressors.
#17: Running Every Day Gets You Out In Nature
While treadmills can certainly be viable training tools, when you run outside, you’ll reap the benefits of fresh air, vitamin D from the sunshine, and the mental benefits of unplugging from technology and screens and connecting with nature.
Research shows that independent of any other factors, exercising outside (rather than inside) confers significant mental health benefits. From quiet wooded trails to grassy meadows, sandy beaches to city roads, running outside can improve your mood and overall health.
#18: Running Every Day Builds Relationships
Humans thrive on social connection and community, and running is a great way to build new relationships that can last a lifetime.
Running is quite conducive to long heart-to-heart conversations, and sharing the common interest in running is the fast-track to a tight bond even amongst new friends.
A daily run with a neighbor, partner, coworker, or friend can help you feel connected in meaningful ways.
There are thousands of running groups and running clubs all over the country (and world) that enable new and veteran runners alike to connect and enjoy miles together.
Is It Ok To Run Every Day?
Although there are many benefits associated with running, running every day is not necessarily the healthiest approach.
Running Every Day Can Increase the Risk of Injury
Running is a high-impact, repetitive activity, so overuse injuries such as stress fractures, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee, and IT band syndrome are common.
Taking rest days or doing low-impact cross-training rather than running every day can reduce your risk of injury.
A 12-month retrospective study 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.
Running Every Day Can Lead to Overtraining Syndrome
Your body needs time to rest, and running every day can increase cortisol and lead to overtraining syndrome.
Overtraining syndrome is a condition characterized by the presence of different physical and mental symptoms, such as sluggishness, low energy, appetite changes, hormonal imbalances, difficulty sleeping, irritability or other mood changes, compromised immunity, and reduced athletic performance.
Running Every Day Can Make It Hard to Fit In Other Forms of Exercise
If you run every day, you might not have time for strength training and cross-training, which can make you a more well-rounded, injury-resilient, and faster runner.
Running Every Day Can Create Its Own Type of Stress
Running every day can also create stress and pressure if you feel like you “must” run so that you don’t break your streak.
Life happens and it’s important to be able to listen to your body and do what’s best for your physical and mental health when it comes to how much and how often you run.
If you find yourself placing pressure on yourself to run every single day, you may find yourself in an unhealthy pattern.
Remember, running should enhance your life and health not detract from or complicate it unnecessarily. Running every day can be a real gift and joy, but it’s also important to take time off and respect your body’s need to recover.
Looking for some low-impact exercises to add to your workout routines? Check out our low impact cardio workouts.