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Benefits of Running: How Running Improves Health

One of the best forms of exercise that you can do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment ... is running.

Now, compared to your leisurely stroll or hopping on the elliptical … getting into a routine with running can be much harder at first.

Here's the good news ... You don’t have to run like a track star to reap the benefits of running! You can take it at your own pace. Who knows, maybe after hearing some of the mental and physical benefits, you'll put your shoes on and hit the pavement today!

Form Check First

Before we dive into the benefits of running, it’s worth finding the right stride to ensure that your form isn’t putting unnecessary strain on your body.

When I'm referring to "form" ... I'm really talking about the technique you use to run.

For instance, many individuals who take up running unknowingly develop a stride that causes them to land on the heels of their feet with each step. This can place excess stress on the knees, hips and lower back.

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On the other hand, a stride that results in you landing primarily on your toes can cause unwanted wear and tear on your Achilles tendon.

To protect your joints and really hit your stride (pun intended), land each step on the balls of your feet, keeping your center of gravity forward. Your arms should be bent at about a 90 degree angle at the elbow with your hands closer to your heart. Stay relaxed in the shoulders, allowing your arms to swing toward the midline of your body.

With these tips in mind, here are some of the benefits of running every day...

What are the Physical Benefits of Running?

Now, let's get into the biggest benefits of running so you can determine if running can benefit you...

Improved Heart Health

Your heart is a muscle, and the more you use it, the better it stays conditioned. As you’re running and blood starts pumping, you can consider it a workout for your heart! As your heart rate increases, more oxygen and nutrients found in the blood are being pumped to your muscles.

If you run regularly, it can reduce your resting heart rate. This means your heart beats slower and more efficiently, and your lungs take in more air with each breath. Your entire cardiovascular system improves, and suddenly those first few miles feel like a breeze.

A long term study concluded that even 5-10 minutes per day at a speed less than 6 miles per hour was associated with reduced risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. This equated to a total of 3 years of extra life! [1]

Healthy Weight

This might very well be the reason that draws so many people to run! It’s true, the calorie burning can really start to add up. When you break it down to calories burned per minute, running ranks at the top as one of the most metabolically demanding activities! So if you are looking to create a calorie deficit to lose weight, running can be a great addition to your routine.

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As you might expect, sprinting produces a larger amount of calories burned, but it can be difficult to go hard for very long.

For this reason, a lot of people pair sprint intervals with walking or jogging. This is a great way to increase the calories they burn for weight loss.

Enhanced Immunity and Wellness

Running gives your immune system a boost by increasing the production of white blood cells. White blood cells act as the body’s natural defense to fight off infection and illness. Researchers David Nieman and Laurel Wentz summarized decades of research to support the evidence that running can lower inflammation, increase immune and antibody response, improve your gut microbiota composition, and reduce your risk of upper respiratory infections. [2]

Running, along with other high intensity exercises, has been linked to decreased rates of cancer, dementia, and diabetes as well.[3, 4]

Increased Muscle Development

Contrary to what you might think, you can build muscle from running! Now don’t think that going out and running a marathon is going to get your arms jacked. It all depends on the intensity and duration of your runs ... along with your genetics.

Running has been shown to increase muscle in the legs and core, especially when doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) [5].

If building muscle is part of your goal, consider the fact that HIIT exercises like sprints have been shown to build more muscle mass than distance running. On top of that, you need to be in a caloric surplus and getting enough protein ... that will always be a huge part of the equation.

Better Sleep

When I get a good workout in, I feel like I sleep much better. Turns out, research even shows that there is a positive relationship between the two.

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Both are essential for the body’s overall health. The presence of one has been shown to strengthen the effectiveness of the other - especially in older adults [6].

In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable benefits of running. That's because getting enough sleep can also improve aspects of your mental and physical health.

What Are the Mental Health Benefits of Running?

Your emotional and mental health can also benefit from running regularly. Some of the more striking advantages include:

Managing Depression

Running has been shown to help individuals manage their symptoms of depression and find an improved sense of well-being [7].

When you run, your body facilitates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that reduce pain in the body and create a feeling of wellness.

Because of this, running not only boosts your mood ... but may also help you feel happier and more confident.

Relieving Stress

Running comes with a few built-in defenses against stress.

For one, running leads to your body’s production of norepinephrine. This is a hormone and neurotransmitter that your brain uses to reduce the effects of stress.

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Additionally, runners tend to have lower levels of the chemicals cortisol and epinephrine ... both of which the body interprets as “stress hormones.” [8]

Cognitive Functioning

The daily gains of completing a run can also extend into the brain’s executive processes.

As little as 10 minutes per day of intense running has been shown to improve executive functioning in the brain and increase activation of the prefrontal cortex. [9] This is the part of the brain linked to problem-solving and impulse control.

Running also increases blood circulation in the body, which may in turn boost the activity of your brain by supplying more oxygen and nutrients.

Are There Benefits to Running a Mile a Day?

A mile seems like a doable number for a beginner and would be a good place to start.

However, most experts recommend a more-varied exercise routine. This is mainly for the reason of preventing injury.

At some point, when you’ve properly conditioned your body, then running a mile every day may be a logical next step. For now, don’t rush things; your body needs rest and recovery just as much as it needs exercise.

Still, if you get to the point where you can comfortably and safely run a mile a day ... you’ll likely see the same mental and physical benefits listed above.

If you’re unsure how far and how often you should be running, listen to your body.

Your run should push you and make you feel tired, but not to the point where you feel like you’re going to pass out.

After all, running is all about pacing. That also means pacing your running routine so that you can establish it as a positive habit for years to come.

We'll Help With Running ... Or Any Goals You May Have

If you are wanting to get into a routine of running and don’t know where to start ... reach out to us! We're here to give you the knowledge, advice, tools, and help you need to see the results you're after. Plus, we have a full staff of NASM Certified Personal Trainers who are happy to help you establish a running game plan for free!

Give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at to talk to one of our NASM Certified Personal Trainers anytime!

There is no doubt that running can be a great thing for your overall physical and mental health. But, that's not to say it's the only exercise that can help.

Especially when it comes to reaching your specific health or fitness goals ... the most important thing is having a routine you can be consistent with.

Download the 1st Phorm App

That includes your routine with regards to what you put in your mouth (AKA your diet)! For help with reaching your goals, custom workouts, nutrition planning/tracking, and 1 on 1 help from a NASM Certified Personal Trainer ... Download the 1st Phorm App!

Inside the app, you'll be fully equipped to see the results you're after.


[1] Lee DC, Pate RR, Lavie CJ, Sui X, Church TS, Blair SN. Leisure-time running reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Aug 5;64(5):472-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058. Erratum in: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Oct 7;64(14):1537. PMID: 25082581; PMCID: PMC4131752.

[2] David C. Nieman, Laurel M. Wentz, The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system, Journal of Sport and Health Science, Volume 8, Issue 3, 2019, Pages 201-217, ISSN 2095-2546,

[3] Moore SC, Lee I, Weiderpass E, et al. Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):816–825. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548

[4] Yuehan Wang, Duck-chul Lee, Angelique G. Brellenthin, Thijs M.H. Eijsvogels, Xuemei Sui, Timothy S. Church, Carl J. Lavie, Steven N. Blair, Leisure-Time Running Reduces the Risk of Incident Type 2 Diabetes,The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 132, Issue 10, 2019, Pages 1225-1232, ISSN 0002-9343,

[5] Estes RR, Malinowski A, Piacentini M, Thrush D, Salley E, Losey C, Hayes E. The Effect of High Intensity Interval Run Training on Cross-sectional Area of the Vastus Lateralis in Untrained College Students. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017 Jan 1;10(1):137-145. PMID: 28479954; PMCID: PMC5214170.

[6] Dolezal BA, Neufeld EV, Boland DM, Martin JL, Cooper CB. Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review. Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:1364387. doi: 10.1155/2017/1364387. Epub 2017 Mar 26. Erratum in: Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:5979510. PMID: 28458924; PMCID: PMC5385214.

[7] Stathopoulou G, Powers MB, Berry AC, et al. Exercise interventions for mental health: a quantitative and qualitative review. 2006. In: Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-. Available from:

[8] Hackney AC. Stress and the neuroendocrine system: the role of exercise as a stressor and modifier of stress. Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov 1;1(6):783-792. doi: 10.1586/17446651.1.6.783. PMID: 20948580; PMCID: PMC2953272.

[9] Sakairi, Yosuke. "Development of the Two-Dimensional Mood Scale for self-monitoring and self-regulation of momentary mood states." Japanese Psychological Research, Wiley Online Library, 2013 p. 338-349.