Last Updated: February 7th, 2021
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I did not have a definite answer, but every morning I used to tie my favorite running shoes and get moving.
This small habit has done wonders for me and now I have a definite answer to this question…
Is running a mile a day enough cardio?
Running a mile a day is enough cardio and it can reduce your chances of cardiac events by 58%. Also, over time this small effort will make your heart stronger and convert it into a more efficient blood pumping machine.
Although the above number is fantastic, it depends on a lot of other factors. To learn more keep reading!
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How does it improve heart health?
When you run a mile every day you will start having:
- Lower resting heart pulse rate
- Lower bad cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
As a study found, the typical runner tends to have a slow resting pulse rate and high maximal oxygen consumption. Echocardiographic studies show that distance runners have larger, thicker left ventricles than do sedentary controls; their hearts are more efficient than those of sedentary people, pumping a larger volume per beat.
We all know, if we want strong muscles, we exercise. During that exercise session, tiny wear and tear develop in our muscles due to exertion.
However, when we rest properly, these muscles become stronger.
It is the same with your heart as it is also a type of muscle. With regular running and resting cycle, it will become stronger.
Also, as was mentioned in the study, gradually your heart’s left ventricles will become thicker a phenomenon called ‘athlete’s heart’.
Previously, it was thought to be an abnormality of the heart but later, it was found that this condition makes your heart a more efficient pumping machine, thus the larger volume pumping per beat.
Also, this improves your performance and stamina and you can go farther faster.
Will more running improve your heart health further?
Technically it should, isn’t it?
Well, not necessarily…but hold that thought.
If you are just starting out, running a mile a day is what you need.
Also, if you stick to this habit, you will reap the full cardiovascular benefits, sooner than later.
Don’t get suck up into the marathon madness as everybody nowadays is a marathoner. We are not saying that you cannot do it. But you should take the baby steps first. Otherwise, you will do yourself more harm than good.
Typically, you can get away with reaping the benefits by running as little as 30 min to 59 min per week. Also, this can reduce your chances of cardiovascular events by 58 percent. Source
If you split up the time between the days of the week, it amounts to somewhere around 5 to 8 min daily.
Fun Fact: The average time a runner takes to run a mile, is 8 to 12 min.
However, if you want to reap the benefits sooner, you may as well increase the duration of your run.
To have great cardio, a running session of 30 min to 45 min or 4-5 miles per session is what a runner generally aspires for.
But as with any good thing, you cannot improve your heart’s health indefinitely.
In fact, a study concluded that if you are into extreme running like cross country running, you may not be able to reap the same benefits as a moderate runner.
They found that in extreme runners there is a faster plaque build-up during the race.
These plaques, if they rupture may cause a sudden heart attack.
So, in a word, running in low to moderate amounts is great for your heart.
Extreme running may not be as good. Also, if you have a pre-existing heart condition, please check with your doctor first before starting to run.
Can you lose weight by running a mile a day?
Yes, you can lose weight by running a mile a day and reap all other benefits that running has to offer.
However, the amount of weight you will lose may not be very significant and you have to continue your endeavor for a long period of time.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you want to lose 1 pound per week.
In that case, you will have to have had a caloric deficit of over 3500 or 500 calories per day.
Keeping everything the same, you just include running one mile every day in your routine.
How many calories will you lose?
Any average runner will lose only 100 calories per running session if they ran only 1 mile per day.
So, doing the math, you will lose less than 1 pound every month with this amount of running.
So, by the end of the year, you would have lost 12 pounds. That is significant progress.
However, your progress will be so slow that you may give up in the middle.
If you want a significant change in your weight, you will have to go up to 4-5 miles per day/ 3 times a week.
Also, combine it with other types of training like strength training, HIIT, etc.
This will ensure that your body doesn’t get too used to running and you will get in shape faster.
Another thing that you will have to take care of is your eating habits.
If you go on a binge eating spree as you are running, the chance of losing weight is slim.
Here are some healthy eating strategies, if you want to lose weight quicker.
What are the other benefits of running a mile a day?
Running a mile every day can have a lot of other benefits other than a strong heart.
Here are some of them:
- No more depression due to the regular dosage of happy hormones.
- You will have strong bones as running is a load-bearing exercise.
- Maybe a cure to your insomnia and disturbed sleep.
- You will have glowing skin due to more blood circulation.
- Lesser stress and anxiety.
- You may see gradual weight loss. If not, you will definitely have more vitality.
- More life expectancy as runners tends to outlive others. You have a strong heart you see.
- You may experience runners high (no guarantee though)
- Become smarter (maybe). Running encourages the growth of new grey matter.
- You significantly reduce your chances of dealing with cancer. Source.
Is it good to run a mile before lifting weights?
If you run before lifting weights, you may be too tired before you even start lifting. So, you will not be able to perform to the level you want and may see slow progress.
However, since you are running just a mile, it may not be a huge deal and you will be sufficiently warmed up before lifting.
You need not spend extra time on warm-ups and your chances of injuries may be reduced.
Also, if you are lifting weight after a run, it may promote muscle growth more effectively.
If you are looking to build a toned body, this may be a very effective and fast way to do that.
Is running a mile a day and lifting weights counterproductive?
If you are lifting weight after running a mile, it may promote muscle growth as mentioned in the previous question.
However, if you are running after lifting weight, then it is a different story.
If you run afterward, it will help you to enhance your cardiovascular health as well as maximize your body’s fat-burning capacity.
When you start running after your weight lifting, your body will turn to its fat store for fuel and will break it down and convert it into energy.
This way you will lose weight and tone up faster.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.
McArdle, William D., G. F. Foglia, and Anthony V. Patti. “Telemetered cardiac response to selected running events.” Journal of applied physiology 23.4 (1967): 566-570.
Bowles, C. J., & Sigerseth, P. O. (1968). Telemetered heart rate responses to pace patterns in the one-mile run. Research Quarterly. American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 39(1), 36-46.
De Meersman, Ronald Edmond. “Heart rate variability and aerobic fitness.” American heart journal 125, no. 3 (1993): 726-731.
Faulkner, J., Parfitt, G. and Eston, R., 2008. The rating of perceived exertion during competitive running scales with time. Psychophysiology, 45(6), pp.977-985.