Running 1 mile a day is gaining popularity online: How it can improve your health

Running a mile per day for a 30-day period has become a popular fitness challenge among workout enthusiasts and beginners.

Content creators on visual platforms, such as YouTube and TikTok, have documented their attempts and quantifiable results with millions of viewers, which have inspired many to partake in the challenge, according to comments and response videos shared on social media.

Fitness experts agree that participating in a running-focused fitness challenge certainly has health benefits, including cardiovascular improvements and potential weight loss, but there are risks that must be weighed before exercisers start an ambitious running program.


Here’s what new and experienced runners should know if they’re planning to start a 30-day running challenge or a daily running routine – from biological processes to physiological changes and mental health benefits.

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Running improves cardiac output, lung function and more

Chris Hinshaw of Cookeville, Tennessee, a running coach who trains CrossFit competitors and founded the endurance coaching website, said there are many positives that come from a daily running routine.

The “top health takeaways” that come with running a mile per day include an improved heart and cardiovascular system, a stronger and more efficient muscular system and increased aerobic capacity (AKA VO2 max – the maximum rate of oxygen a body utilizes during exercise) by up to 20%, according to Hinshaw. 

Other potential benefits a new runner could experience include improved quality of life and longer lifespan, reduced risk of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and improved mental health and sleep quality, Hinshaw said.

“Running a mile a day may lead to an increase in red blood cell volume, which can result in an additional increase in the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity,” Hinshaw told Fox News Digital.


“As the heart gets stronger, stroke volume increases, enabling the heart to pump more oxygen-carrying blood,” he continued. “This can result in lower heart rates because the heart becomes more efficient. In addition, capillary building and mitochondria density increase, allowing for greater energy production.”

Hinshaw said it’s important for new runners to control their speed and limit intensity during a one-mile run because bones, joints, muscles and connective tissues need time to adjust to faster speeds.

He recommends the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method – subtracting one’s age from 180 heart rate – to determine the appropriate run intensity for a new runner if laboratory testing isn’t available.

“Assuming the runner progresses normally, we must ultimately vary the stimulus of their workouts to drive additional adaptations and reduce the risk of injuries from running at the same repetitive pace,” Hinshaw said.


Routine changes runners can add to improve performance and sustain progress include increasing speed over time, varying speeds during a mile run, running intervals, using weights or running on hills and pursuing a maximum effort mile, according to Hinshaw.

Running nourishes muscles, breaks down glucose and lowers cholesterol

William Toro, a Seattle-based personal trainer and rehabilitation therapist at Welcyon, a health club franchisor made for adults over 50, said running a mile per day can yield “fantastic physiological changes” and tests a person’s determination.

“It will improve cardio-respiratory fitness because it forces your cardiac muscle and lungs to work harder, which leads to an increase in lung capacity,” Toro told Fox News Digital. “By the end of this course, you will realize your resting heart rate has gone down, which is a good health sign.”

Daily running often leads to more oxygen and nutrients being pumped to the blood and muscles, Toro noted.


“Your body will adapt how you can recruit type-two muscle fibers in a much more efficient way, you’ll be able to utilize stored glycogen and activate your anaerobic glycolysis system,” he said.

Other health benefits runners see include balanced stress levels, improved breathing, lowered water retention, strengthen ligaments and bones, maintained blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lower rates of depression, according to Toro.

Tips Toro offers new runners include running at a comfortable pace, taking breaks when needed, focusing on completion, picking appropriate footwear and practicing pre- and post-run stretching.

Pre-run stretches should be “active,” “dynamic” and last for about “five minutes,” according to Toro. The knees, ankles and hips are areas that reportedly require mobility stretches for two to three minutes.


“When you are done with your run, perform a good cooldown static stretch, which will squeeze out the lactic acid,” Toro said.

You get better the more you do it

Nick Bare, an Army Infantry veteran, fitness author and influencer from Texas who has more than 2 million followers, said running a 30-day one-mile challenge might sound daunting to someone unfamiliar with cardiovascular training. Still, it could provide a “life-changing experience.”

“To put the distance in perspective, one mile is about 1,500 steps,” Bare told Fox News Digital. “You may have heard about the recommended 10,000 steps a day, so 1,500 is a relatively small portion of that.”

A month of single-mile runs is unlikely to yield “significant results,” but it’s an exercise regimen that can become a regular and more challenging routine, Bare said.

“A meta-analysis published in 2015 found that after one year of running, individuals reduced body mass, resting heart rate and triglycerides,” he added.


Running has also been found to significantly increase maximal oxygen uptake, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and confidence, according to Bare, the founder and CEO of Bare Performance Nutrition, a supplement and fitness apparel company.

Over-training isn’t a major concern for mile-long runs, though soreness can occur for people who are new to the activity, Bare said.

“If you are brand-new to running and one mile straight isn’t doable, that’s OK,” he continued. “Begin with a run-walk approach by running as long as you can, taking a break to walk and then picking up running again when you feel ready. [This] strategy is a great way to get started and also allows you to ease into the new style of training.”

Weight might decrease, but hunger likely won’t

Katie Butler, a Tampa-based head trainer at the Orangetheory Fitness club in Tampa, Florida, said it’s important to consult a doctor before making “dramatic changes” to one’s health routine, and this includes running a mile per day.

“Some pros of starting a running challenge like this include lowered blood pressure, lowered cholesterol levels, improved body mass index (BMI) and lean body muscle tissue, while also improving one’s resting heart rate,” Butler told Fox News Digital.


She noted that lower resting heart rates have been “linked to lengthened longevity and overall health” in research studies.

“One could expect to see some weight loss as well as improved stress levels and improved sleep,” Butler added.

Butler warned that new runners should be mindful of their running gait, the way a person’s running stance and foot swing work together, and their nutritional needs.

“One could potentially feel hungrier as well due to the increased caloric output of the exercise, so it is important to stay hydrated with plenty of water and electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium,” Butler said.

Shin splints and soreness are a possibility

Rachel MacPherson, a Nova Scotia-based personal trainer, pain-free performance specialist and expert panelist at Garage Gym Reviews, an at-home fitness resource, said mile-a-day running challengers should think of their fitness level before they begin.


“Everyone starts somewhere, and pushing yourself too hard too fast can result in common injuries and complaints like shin splints and soreness,” MacPherson told Fox News Digital.

MacPherson recommends running for a few minutes and slowing to a walk until one’s heart rate and breathing steadies before attempting to run again.

“Each day, try to run a bit longer with shorter walking periods,” MacPherson said. “Soon enough, you will be running the entire mile. If you are new to running, don’t worry about your speed, just focus on breathing correctly and taking your time.”

MacPherson added that running challenges can be motivating and help someone build a routine, but people should make sure they’re not being hard on themselves.


“If you miss a day, don’t be discouraged and quit completely,” she said. “Just pick up where you started and keep going.”

Improve blood sugar regulation and calorie burning

Matt Claes, the founder and head coach at Weight Loss Made Practical, a personalized weight loss coaching company headquartered in Mechelen, Belgium, said running a mile per day can result in a variety of internal processes that may make a person stronger and fitter over time.

Read more  Running A Mile A Day: How To, Benefits, 30 Day Challenge

“Some results you can expect from this running challenge include better leg muscle endurance, stronger joints, better cardiovascular health, meaning one gets out of breath less easily, better insulin sensitivity, meaning better blood sugar regulation and better bone density,” Claes said.

Running is a physical exercise that burns calories, and when combined with healthy eating habits, it can result in weight loss, according to Claes. 


“A 155-pound person will burn around 127 calories when running a mile at about 5.2 mph,” Claes said.

Claes warned that running a mile per day, even for 30 days, can be too hard on people who are inactive or injury-prone.

Twisting an ankle is a possible injury new runners can experience when surrounding muscles aren’t strong enough to support a distance run.

Claes recommends other cardiovascular workouts like cycling, swimming, the elliptical and similar gym machines for inexperienced or injury-prone runners because these options are likely to “help you get in shape with less injury risk.”


“As your body gets stronger over time, you can consider switching over to running a mile a day in a safer way,” Claes said.

— Update: 10-02-2023 — found an additional article Running a Mile a Day: How to Start, Benefits and Useful Tips from the website for the keyword benefits of running a mile a day.

Whether you’re a beginner runner just starting your running journey or an experienced runner getting back in the game, it’s always a good time to set a goal of running a mile a day.

You might not seem like it’s an achievable goal at first but with the tips listed in this article as well as the method I’ve mentioned to get started, you’ll be running a mile a day in no time!

In truth, I usually do NOT recommend running streaks. In other words, running daily.

However, for those who are just getting started or those who simply need to create some consistency there are indeed benefits.

Running a mile a day can help relieve stress, fight depression, and even increase your lifespan! There are many other benefits to running and, in this article, you’ll learn not only that but how to get started and tips to keep you going.

11 Benefits of Running a Mile a Day

Running is incredibly beneficial for you in many ways. The good news is that you can start experiencing those benefits when you start running a mile a day. Here’s what running a mile a day can do for you and your body:

1. Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

Running improves cardiorespiratory fitness markers by forcing your heart and lungs to work harder. Therefore, it strengthens your heart, expands your lung capacity, and lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Good cardiorespiratory health helps prevent heart disease, lowers cholesterol levels, prevents type 2 diabetes, increases lung capacity, and strengthens the immune system overall.

People who run even five minutes a day as part of a workout can cut their chances of having a heart attack or stroke by 45%.

In general, the better your cardiorespiratory health is, the more fit and healthy you’ll be.

Benefits of running a mile a day

2. Relieve Stress and Keep It in Check

Excessive stress can result in a variety of physical and behavioral symptoms, ranging from headaches and exhaustion to decreased motivation.

Running helps to lower stress hormones, allowing you to feel your best. It also makes your body produce endorphins and endocannabinoids, which make you feel relaxed and happy.

It also works as a ‘moving meditation’, as the repetitive movements help clear the mind of worries. Running also increases self-confidence, improves self-esteem, and helps you relax.

So, if you’re looking to relieve stress and keep it in check, running a mile a day might just do the trick!

3. Sleep Better

A great benefit of running a mile a day is from day one being able to sleep better!

Running boosts serotonin levels in the body, which is a hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle according to a study published in 2014.

The endorphins released as a result of running will also help keep all those anxious thoughts in check at night while you’re trying to fall asleep. Over time, running trains the mind to relax and push away these worries, allowing for more restful sleep.

As you cool down after a run, the drop in body temperature also relaxes the body and preps it for rest. With all these three things combined, you’re bound to have a good night’s sleep!

Because let’s not forget that sleep for runners is our best recovery tool.

4. Fight Depression

Aerobic exercise, such as running, has a comparable effect on the brain as antidepressant medications. It has also been shown in some studies to be just as helpful in treating depression.

It promotes the formation of new brain pathways and the expansion of the hippocampus, which helps alleviate depressive symptoms.

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health difficulties, running a mile every day may help give you that needed mood boost.

Benefits of running a mile a day

5. Feel the ‘Runner’s High’

You don’t need to be experiencing depression to reap the benefits of running a mile a day.

When you first start running, your body goes through a transition: your breathing may get heavy, and you may notice your pulse quicken as your heart pumps harder to move oxygenated blood to your muscles and brain.

As you hit your stride, your body releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. And, while endorphins may prevent muscles from feeling pain, endorphins in the blood are unlikely to contribute to a euphoric feeling or any mood change at all. Endorphins don’t cross the blood-brain barrier.

That peaceful post-run feeling called runner’s high could be attributed to endocannabinoids, which are biochemical substances comparable to CBD oil for runners, but produced naturally by the body.

Running raises the level of endocannabinoids in the bloodstream. Endocannabinoids, unlike endorphins, can easily cross the cellular barrier that separates the bloodstream from the brain.

Benefits of running a mile a day

6. Healthy Weight Loss

If you continue your present eating habits and run a mile a day, you may burn enough calories to lose one pound of weight per month. If you want to lose more weight, increase your aerobic activity and reduce your calorie consumption.

However, if running a mile every day as an exercise is all you have time for right now, you may observe progressive weight loss as a result of the extra calories burnt.

If you want to lose a few pounds, running a mile a day will help you get started on your way to a leaner physique. Elevating your heart rate burns calories, which aids in weight loss.

Just make sure to run at different speeds, intensity levels, and inclines so your body is always having to adapt to new workouts, which will help you lose weight. This will help you avoid reaching an exercise plateau.

But make sure to take a day off once a week for rest and recovery to reduce the chances of any injuries and to allow your body to heal.

7. Strengthen Your Bones

As you age, your bone density starts to deteriorate, which can lead to osteoporosis. If you don’t know what osteoporosis is, it’s a disorder that causes your bones to become weak and brittle.

Strength training can help build strong bones, but high-impact exercise like running has an equally big influence on bone mineral density. Strong bones support strong muscles, lowering your chance of injury.

Running puts stress on your bones, which strengthens them over time by increasing bone density. As a result, it reduces your chances of developing osteoporosis.

Benefits of running a mile a day

8. Live a Longer Life

Another great health benefit of running is that it increases your lifespan by at least three years. People who don’t exercise regularly are considerably more likely to die at a younger age than those who take out time for a daily run.

According to research, just five minutes of running per day can considerably increase your life expectancy. Another great benefit of taking on the challenge of running a mile a day.

9. Improve Your Memory and Cognitive Skills

A regular moderate-intensity running session expands the size of specific brain regions responsible for memory and thought. Moreover, the benefits of reduced stress and improved mood can help avoid cognitive deterioration in the long run.

There are also instant effects on learning and cognitive functions! According to a study published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, participants were able to learn new vocabulary more quickly after a session of high-impact running.

So, going for a run before learning something new might actually help you learn it with greater ease.

10. Reduce Risk of Cancer

According to a research study published in 2016, if you run a mile every day, you decrease your risk of suffering from certain types of cancer. Running results in:

  • 42% lower risk of esophageal cancer
  • 27% lower risk of liver cancer
  • 26% lower risk of lung cancer,
  • 23% lower risk of kidney cancer
  • 16% lower risk of colon cancer
  • 10% lower risk of breast cancer

And these are just some of the types of cancer running helps us fight against. And those are only a handful of the cancers whose risk is dramatically decreased by regular exercise!

Running isn’t a foolproof prevention method, but it never hurts to do everything you can to be healthy.

11. Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

Exercise causes your blood vessels to dilate, which improves blood flow. It only takes approximately 10 minutes of brisk walking to feel the benefits.

In addition, regular running can lower your resting blood pressure, which lowers your chance of a heart attack or stroke.

Running can also boost high-density lipid protein cholesterol, or ‘good’ cholesterol while stimulating enzymes that assist lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.

Reasons to Run a Mile a Day

Now that we know all of the benefits, you might not need any more encouragement. But there could be a question as to why you’d what to run a mile a day instead of following something like a standard training plan that includes different distances 3-4 days per week.

Here are a few I know you’ll probably be able to relate to:

You Want to Start Running

Running a mile a day is one of the easiest goals to target when you just start running. It’s a great goal to set for yourself to motivate you to get into running.

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It’s a manageable distance for many beginner runners who are either just starting or have recently completed a beginner training plan like the Couch to 5K plan.

Fit Running into a Tight Schedule

This is probably one of the main reasons why people choose to run short distances rather than long distances.

With job and family obligations, it can be difficult to fit in a run with a busy schedule and a ton of things to do.

Running a mile, on the other hand, does not require much of your time, with many runners finishing in under 20 minutes or even less.

Returning to Running After an Injury or Long Break

If you’re returning to running after an injury, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to go back to your pre-injury fitness levels.

This is just not possible in many situations, and you will need to rebuild your fitness and endurance after an injury.

By running a mile a day, you will be able to gradually reintroduce yourself to running. Running may feel odd when you first resume running after a long break. If that’s how you feel, then use these short runs to regain some of your confidence.

Benefits of running a mile a day

How to Start Running a Mile a Day

Running a mile a day really isn’t complicated at all. But if you follow these steps, it’ll ensure that your running journey always stays smooth. Here’s how to start:

Set a goal: Start by setting a short-term and long-term goal for what you want to achieve from running.

Get a good pair of running shoes: Get a well-fitting pair of shoes with ample cushioning for shock absorption but that is still breathable and lightweight.

Warm-up before a run: Consider doing dynamic stretches before a run to get your blood flowing and reduce your risk of injury.

Start slow: If you’re entirely new to running, start slow and work your way up to running a mile a day. I recommend increasing your mileage in 5-10% increments.

Utilize walking intervals: Alternate between running and walking as your start off to build endurance.

Incorporate stretching: Do a post-run stretch to stretch out your muscles and prevent them from tightening, as this can increase your chances of getting injured.

Consider strength training: Strength training should be a part of every runner’s training plan. It has many benefits including reducing muscle imbalances, reducing injury risk, increasing running speed, and improving running economy amongst other things.

Build your way up: Whether your goal is to run faster or for longer distances, start building your way up by gradually increasing how long you run every day.

Take time to rest: Make sure to take out one day per week to rest and recover. Your body needs this time to heal.

5 Tips for Running a Mile a Day

Running a mile a day is a completely achievable goal. Here are a few tips that will help make it even easier for you:

Consistency is Key

When you first start running, the most important thing is to focus on is being consistent. It might sound obvious, but that’s one of the main ways you can really succeed in this way.

You may find that the first week feels hard. This is likely because your body is still adjusting to this new routine, and it takes time to build a habit. Habits help to take motivation out of the equation.

Over time, you’ll find that running a mile a day becomes easier and easier. Eventually, you’ll realize that working towards a daily mile is totally doable.

Don’t Focus on Pace or Speed

Don’t focus too much on your pace or speed when you’re just starting. This can distract you from your goal of running a mile a day, taking the fun out of it.

Pace and speed will come with time, first focus on building a habit that’s fulfilling and fun. You can still track how far did I run to keep an ongoing log for motivation, but remember that it’s about celebrating all progress.

Pick a Circular Route

In the beginning, running a mile day might not be the easiest task. I recommend picking a circular route, so you start and finish at your house. So yes, we’re referring to running around the block or running track.

This will make sure you’re not having to walk unnecessarily after your run, especially during those first few days. But do focus on stretching post-run to reduce the risk of injury.

Block Time Out for a Run

Set time aside for a run each day by blocking out time in your calendar. This is the easiest way to be accountable and to show up for a run.

Run with a Friend

If you’re feeling like giving up and need a little push to run, consider running with a friend. Not only will it make it more fun, but it’ll help you build a habit too.

Checkout some tips for finding a running group (and getting over your nerves), if you don’t have someone readily available to run with.

All right, there you have it. All the tips, tricks and reasons you might start running a mile day.

Looking for More Tips to Get Started

  • How Many Steps are In A Mile
  • How to Run Faster and Longer
  • Benefits of Backward Running (yup you should do some)
  • Beginner Running Tips
  • Speed Workouts for Beginners

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Benefits of running a mile a day

— Update: 11-02-2023 — found an additional article Running A Mile A Day: How To, Benefits, 30 Day Challenge from the website for the keyword benefits of running a mile a day.

Depending on your current activity level and overall life schedule, running a mile a day might sound like a lot, or it might sound relatively easy, but no matter where you fall on the continuum, we believe you’re absolutely up for it.

Walking or running a mile a day with a 30-day mile-a-day challenge is a perfect foray into exercise if you’re currently inactive or haven’t been working out regularly, or if you’re coming back from an injury, pregnancy, or time off for one reason or another. 

Most of all, joining our 30-day mile-a-day challenge is an excellent opportunity to kickstart your motivation to move your body and make a commitment to yourself to regularly carve out time to be active in a safe, supportive, and approachable way.

Whether you have been struggling to work out consistently, or have always wanted to be able to run a mile without stopping, our 30-day mile-a-day challenge will help you reach your goals, establish an exercise habit, and become an athlete. 

That’s right. All it takes is a commitment to following our one-mile-a-day plan. You can do it!

In this guide, we will cover: 

  • What Is the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • What Are the Benefits of the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • Do I Need to Be a Runner to Do the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • Tips for the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge
  • How Fast Should I Walk and Run for the Mile-a-Day Challenge?
  • Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Use a Walk/Run Approach?
  • Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Have Rest Days?
  • The Marathon Handbook 30 Day Mile-a-Day Challenge

Let’s commit to getting fit! 

Benefits of running a mile a day

What Is the Marathon Handbook 30 Day Mile-a-Day Challenge?

The Marathon Handbook 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge is a 30-day training program with daily workouts progressing you from walking one mile on day one, to running a mile nonstop on day 30.

Each day, you’ll cover just one mile, because we believe the most successful way to form a good habit is to use a manageable approach. Even your slow walks should take no more than 20-30 minutes, making this 30-day mile-a-day challenge a doable workout program for busy lives.

In other words, you don’t have to overhaul your life. You just need to commit, find 20 minutes a day and believe in yourself.

Benefits of running a mile a day

What Are the Benefits of the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?

This 30-day mile-a-day challenge will get you started with consistent exercise. The goal is not to mold you into a champion runner over the next month, but to help you build a consistent habit and strong cardio base with enough stamina to handle running a mile a day without stopping, and that’s an impressive feat. 

Equally important to the physical improvements in fitness you’ll gain over this mile-a-day challenge is the consistency, habit, and discipline you’ll build for fitting exercise into your daily routine.

Moving your body by walking, jogging, and/or running a mile a day is a good way to improve the health of your heart and lungs; lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers; strengthen your muscles, reduce stress, and improve your mood.

Running a mile a day helps you get closer to meeting the recommended 7,500-10,000 steps a day to reduce mortality or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, a guideline for adults established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Benefits of running a mile a day

Do I Need to Be a Runner to Do the Marathon Handbook Mile-a-Day Challenge?

Absolutely not. This mile-a-day challenge is designed for anyone, provided you don’t have an injury or medical condition that precludes you from running. If you’ve never run a step in your life, you can join us!

Tips for the Marathon Handbook Mile a Day Challenge

Over the course of the Marathon Handbook 30-day Mile-a-Day Challenge, you’ll gradually increase the difficulty of the mile-a-day workouts by running more of the mile and cutting back on the duration of the walk breaks. 

You are building your aerobic endurance, helping you increase the length of time you can run without needing to walk. As your fitness improves during this challenge, your heart rate and respiratory rates will be able to drop back down quicker, even if you get pretty breathless by the end of the running interval. 

If you’re huffing and puffing and really struggling to get through the interval, ease up on your pace. It should be “comfortably hard.” In other words, you shouldn’t be able to sing a full song, but you can speak several words with no problem. 

Benefits of running a mile a day

Your speed isn’t important here; we are just trying to train your body to keep running. A slow jog—even a shuffle—is okay, but try to focus on running with good form without hunching over to ensure you can breathe well. Try to keep moving through the walking breaks rather than coming to a complete stop after a run interval.

Concentrate on running by effort or feel rather than trying to hit a certain pace or speed. If you’re sore and tired, you can always just take a walking day.

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Remember to stretch after your runs and listen to your body when it comes to pace. Resist the urge to just plop down in a chair all day immediately after your workout. Your muscles will tighten up and you’ll feel sorer the next day. 

Walking around and doing some stretching or yoga will aid recovery by flushing out your fatigued muscles and shuffling in fresh, oxygenated blood to help nourish and repair them.

How Fast Should I Walk and Run for the Mile-a-Day Challenge?

We can’t overstate this enough: your pace doesn’t matter. Walk, jog, run, and sprint according to what feels right for you in each workout. You may notice that even day to day, your “comfortable” pace charges. That’s normal! 

Don’t worry if one day feels harder than several days earlier. Progress isn’t entirely linear and sometimes your body will be recovering from hard workouts; therefore, the effort to maintain a slower pace will be harder than usual.

Benefits of running a mile a day

While we don’t want to prescribe or suggest specific paces to follow during this 30-day mile-a-day challenge, you will notice the terms “walk,” “brisk walk,” “jog,” “run,” and “sprint” on the challenge training calendar.

In general, if you think of your effort level during exercise on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being rest and 10 being an all-out maximal effort sprint, you can aim for an effort level of:

  • 2-4 for the optional easy walks on rest days
  • 3-5 for warm-up walking pace and walking during recovery breaks
  • 5-6 for brisk walking
  • 6-7 for jogging
  • 7-8 for running
  • 9-10 for sprinting
Benefits of running a mile a day

Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Use a Walk/Run Approach?

You may wonder why the Marathon Handbook 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge doesn’t have you running a mile a day right from the start. We use a gradual progression from walking to running to prevent injury.

Because running is a high-impact activity, you need to build up and progress slowly. If you’re not currently running, or are just starting out, a walk/run is an effective approach to building cardiovascular fitness while getting your bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues accustomed to the stresses of running.

Essentially, walking breaks give you a chance to catch your breath and slow your heart rate, and because walking is a lower-impact activity, your joints and muscles also get a break. 

Jumping into running a mile a day if you’ve been sedentary for a while can make you really sore, which will then make it harder to stick to your routine. This mile-a-day challenge is all about building a healthy habit and exercise routine, not breaking records or going from 0-60 so fast you get whiplash.

Benefits of running a mile a day

Why Does the 30-Day Mile-a-Day Challenge Have Rest Days?

Since this 30-day mile-a-day challenge only has you walking and/or running a mile a day, it might seem unnecessary to have a rest day every week. 

After all, if we are supposed to take at least 7,500-10,000 steps a day for health, we should be covering more than a mile a day in our daily lives.

However, rest days are an important aspect of your training. Regularly taking rest days reduces the risk of injury by allowing sufficient time for your tissues to recover before loading them with the impacts, strains, forces, and stresses of running again.

We have made the weekly rest day optional in this challenge as it’s unlikely physiologically necessary for everyone to take a rest day after walking or running a mile a day. It will depend on your current level of fitness as to whether or not you will need it. 

It can also be helpful to have a rest day for logistical reasons, in case you have a day where you simply can’t fit in your mile. We want this to be a safe, sustainable program that builds confidence and consistency as much as it does fitness, endurance, and strength.

If you feel good, you can also take a mile walk at a gentle stroll pace. 

Benefits of running a mile a day

The Marathon Handbook 30-Day Mile a Day Challenge

Walk 1 mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 30 seconds, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 30 seconds, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 1 minute, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk ¾ mile, Jog ¼ mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 5 minutes warm-up

Then sprint 30 seconds, walk 1 minute for the rest of the mile
Walk 5 minutes warm-up

Then jog 90 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk ¼ mile
Jog ¼ mile
Walk ¼ mile
Jog ¼ mile
Walk 2 minutes warm-up

Then run 90 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk ½ mile, Run ½ mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 2 minutes warm-up

Then sprint 30 seconds, walk 45 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk 2 minutes warm up

Then run 2 minutes, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk 2 minutes warm-up

Then run 2 minutes 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk ¼ mile, Run ¾ mileBrisk power walk 1 mileWalk 2 minutes warm-up

Then sprint 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Walk 2 minutes warm-up

Then run 3 minutes, walk 30 seconds for the rest of the mile
Rest Day or 
Easy walk 1 mile 
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk ¼ mile
Run ¼ mile
Walk 2 minutes. 

Run or jog the rest of the mile.
Brisk power walk 1 mileRun 1 mile!
Benefits of running a mile a day

Running a mile a day? You can do it!

After you’ve completed the program and are running a mile a day, let’s set a new goal; how about a couch to 5k program? Check out our training plans for the couch to 5k here.

Benefits of running a mile a day

— Update: 13-02-2023 — found an additional article What To Know Before Running A Mile Every Day, According To Running Coaches from the website for the keyword benefits of running a mile a day.

Whether you don’t have access to gym equipment like dumbbells right now or just ~need~ a break from the day-to-day and are looking for a solo form of exercise, there’s never been a better time to set a running goal—like running a mile a day.

As long as you have a pair of sneakers and a safe place to put one foot in front of the other, you’re just minutes away from basking in all of the endorphins (and hopefully the sun) that come with a good run.

Even if running has never been your thing, working toward a daily mile is totally doable. “Most people—including kids—could safely run or walk a mile per day with little to no risk of injury,” says Steve Stonehouse, CPT, USATF run coach, and director of education for STRIDE. (Yep, walking breaks are totally acceptable, guys!)

Even seasoned runners should consider running a mile every day. “If you already have a regular running routine, increasing up to daily runs could improve your stamina and mood, too,” adds Rebecca Kennedy, CPT, Peloton Master Tread Instructor.

So, yeah, if you needed a little extra push to get moving, this is it. But before you set that daily reminder to get out there and log that mile, there are a few things the pros want you to keep in mind.

First, what are the benefits of running a mile a day?

As long as you do it safely (more on that soon), running a mile a day is a great way to support your overall health and fitness.

“You get all the benefits of running in general, like supporting cardiorespiratory fitness and bone health, without the volume of mileage that can potentially cause injury,” says Stonehouse.

It’s also a great way to guarantee you spend some time outdoors every day—and exercising outside has been shown to have greater psychological benefits, like a boosted mood and feeling calm, than sweating indoors, according to research from the American Psychological Association. (If you log your mile on a tread, though, even looking at nature scenes on a screen enhances your run’s happiness-inducing effect, found a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.)

Can you lose weight by running a mile a day?

The average 150-pound person burns about 370 calories in 30 minutes of running at a 10 minute/mile pace, according to Harvard Medical School. Run a single mile at that pace and you’ll burn about 123 calories.

While that’s definitely something, it’s likely not going to keep you progressing toward your goals long-term. “Your body is an incredibly adaptive machine and will adapt to the stresses of running a mile a day relatively quickly,” explains Stonehouse.

If weight loss is your ultimate goal, you’ll want to focus on training that helps you burn fat efficiently and build muscle. Which is why, ultimately, just running a mile a day won’t do much to move the needle towards your long-term weight-loss goals; it simply doesn’t burn enough calories. (Need a little inspo? Try one of these top calorie-burning exercises instead.)

Will running a mile a day build muscle?

Though logging a daily mile can be a great way to get moving and support your health and fitness goals, whether or not it supports muscle growth, too, depends on how you run it.

“Low-intensity cardio does not lead to muscle gain, a.k.a. hypertrophy,” says Kennedy. If you run a mile at an easier or more moderate pace, you rely on type I (a.k.a. slow-twitch) muscle fibers, which support endurance exercise. (Picture a marathon runner.)

However, “sprinting is a great way to focus on muscle gain,” Kennedy says. Sprinting recruits more muscle fibers, specifically type II (a.k.a. fast-twitch) muscle fibers, which support power production.

A surefire way to build that muscle? This equipment-free workout sculpts your lower body from home:

That said, sprinting just a total of one mile a day likely isn’t enough to make noticeable muscle gains, says Kennedy. “In order to really put on muscle, you need to lift weights, eat enough to support muscle tissue breakdown and protein synthesis, and get adequate recovery.”

Ultimately, can sprints support your progress? Totally. But will they do the job on their own? Not so much.

What happens if I run a mile a day…if I’m not already a runner?

Before you vow to lace up your running shoes seven days a week, consider this: “If you don’t run regularly and begin running every day, the steep increase in stress and impact puts pressure on your joints and ligaments. This could lead to potential injury,” Kennedy says. So, if you don’t have a current running routine, start with just one day of running per week and work yourself up to every day over the course of several weeks, she recommends.

Still, though, “running daily is not for everyone, just like power lifting every day isn’t advisable,” Kennedy says. So don’t feel like if you haven’t tried running a mile a day that you’re missing out. There are plenty of other ways to reap similar benefits.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that, while you can totally build a tolerance to daily runs, switching up how you move from day to day can keep you feeling fresh, both in body and in mind.

But if you decide to go for it, these are the best ways to add running a mile a day to your fitness routine.

Kennedy says her go-to way of incorporating a one-mile run into daily exercise is as a finisher. “It’s an incredible way to feel accomplished at the end of a workout,” she says. Whatever gas you’ve got left in the tank, burn through it in that mile.

Or, if you take your daily mile at an easier pace, it works well as a warm-up, too.

The bottom line: Running a mile a day can support your overall fitness and cardiovascular health, but don’t expect it to build major muscle or eliminate the need for other types of exercise.


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