Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, but it can be intimidating to get started. There are many benefits to running, but there are also some risks and challenges you should know about before you begin. Today we’ll talk about these pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is something worth trying for yourself.
Pros Of Running For 20 Minutes A Day
There are plenty of reasons to start running, even if you only have time for a short jog every day. Here are some of the top benefits:
You’ll Burn Calories And Lose Weight
One of the main benefits of running is that it’s a great way to burn calories and lose weight. If you run for 20 minutes per day, you can expect to burn around 100 calories. Over time, this can add up to a significant amount of weight loss (2).
Your actual running 20 minutes a day for weight loss depends on a few factors such as:
How Much You Weigh
Your current weight is a huge factor in how many pounds you will lose running for 20 minutes a day. A heavier person burns more calories per pound than a lighter person.
How Long You Run
The longer you run, the more calories you burn (obviously!). The 100 calorie estimate above is for an average-sized runner who jogs at about 8 minute mile pace for 20 minutes. If you are larger or smaller than average, or your pace will likely be slower or faster than 8 minute miles, so this number should be adjusted accordingly.
The Terrain You Run On
The terrain you run on also impacts how many calories you burn. Running uphill uses more energy, as does running on sand or a treadmill (1).
What you eat also impacts how many calories you burn. If you are eating more than you need, to maintain your weight, then running won’t result in weight loss.
You’ll Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Running is one of the best exercises for your cardiovascular health. It strengthens your heart and improves your overall circulation. This can help reduce your risk of heart disease and other health conditions (8).
You’ll Reduce Stress Levels
Exercising is a great way to reduce stress levels, and running is no exception. When you’re stressed out, your body releases hormones like cortisol that can have harmful effects on your health. By running daily, you can help keep these hormone levels in check (9).
You’ll Live Longer
Studies have shown that people who run regularly tend to live longer than those who don’t. This is likely due to the many health benefits of running listed above. If you want to live a long, healthy life, running is a great way to achieve that goal (8).
You’ll Be More Motivated
Running shorter distances often is a great way to build up your confidence and motivation. Once you start to see how good it feels to run even a short distance, you may be more motivated to increase your running efforts.
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Cons Of Running For 20 Minutes A Day
While there are many benefits to running, there are also some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of. Here are the top cons:
You Could Injure Yourself
Running can be dangerous if you’re not careful. If you’re not in good shape, you could injure yourself while running. And even if you’re in good shape, it’s still possible to get injured. Make sure you take the time to learn about proper running techniques so you can avoid injuries while out on the road (6).
It’s Not A Great Form Of Exercise For Everyone
Not everyone is well suited to run as their primary form of exercise. In some cases, it may be better to find another form of exercise that works better for you. If you have joint pain or other physical limitations, running might not be the best choice for you.
Running In Bad Weather Can Be A Challenge
Running in extreme weather conditions like rain and snow can be dangerous and uncomfortable at times. It’s usually best to wait until nicer weather before going out for a jog. Running on a treadmill 20 minutes a day can be a great option when the weather is not good.
It Takes Time To Adapt
Your first few runs can feel difficult, especially if you’re out of shape or haven’t done much running in the past. You should give yourself time to adjust and work your way up gradually. Many people like starting with 5-minute jogs and increasing their times by 5 minutes each day until they reach their goal distance (which is usually between 3 and 20 minutes, depending on your goals).
Tips For Running Safely And Effectively
Running is a great way to burn calories, improve your cardiovascular health, and relieve stress (8). But it’s important to go about it in a safe and effective way in order to get the most out of your runs. Here are some tips for running safely:
- If you’re new to running, start small. Don’t try to run every day if you’ve never done it before. Start with one or two days per week instead.
- Pay attention to your body when you run. Stop immediately if something hurts or doesn’t feel right after the first few times that you go running. You could wind up injuring yourself if you don’t take care of this right away.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run. This will help keep you hydrated and minimize the risk of injury.
- Stretch after your run. This will help prevent injury and improve flexibility (10).
- Invest in a good pair of running shoes. Quality shoes can help reduce the risk of injury while you’re running.
- If possible, find a running buddy to help keep you motivated and accountable.
Proper Form For Running To Avoid Injury
When you’re just starting out, it’s important to learn the proper form for running. This will help keep you safe and prevent injury. Here are a few tips for good running form (12):
- Make sure your posture is correct. Keep your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed.
- Avoid clenching your fists or tensing up your muscles. Try to relax as much as possible while you’re running.
- Land on the middle of your foot, not your heel. This will help absorb shock and minimize the risk of injury.
- Keep your head up and look forward, not down at the ground. This will help you stay focused and avoid tripping over obstacles.
- Breathe deeply and evenly throughout your run. Don’t hold your breath or panting heavily.
- If you’re running uphill, lean slightly forward to maintain your balance.
- If you’re running downhill, lean back and use your glutes and hamstrings to slow down.
- Take short, quick steps when you run. This will help you move more efficiently.
How To Change Your Diet To Get The Best Results From Running 20 Minutes A Day
It’s important to know how to fuel your body for physical activity to get the best results. Here are some tips for changing your diet so you can become a better runner:
Eat Less Sugar
Cut back on sugars, especially soda and candy bars. Sugary foods give you an energy boost at first, but they can cause problems later on during or after long exercise sessions (3). Incorporating healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish into your diet is much better for overall health and fitness.
Eat Less Sodium
Cut back on salty junk food like chips too since it can lead to dehydration and other problems related to poor diet.
Drink water throughout the day instead of sugary drinks like soda to stay hydrated without ruining your progress.
Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat
You might be surprised to learn that eating fat does not lead to weight gain. In fact, it’s healthier for your body and can help you achieve better results from running too. Healthy fats like those that come from olive oil, nuts, avocados, flaxseeds, fish oil, and more are important for fitness (11). Make sure you get enough of them in your diet every day if possible.
Eat More Protein
Protein can help you recover more quickly from tough workouts, so it’s important to include some in your diet every day (4). Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are great sources of protein.
Don’t Avoid Carbs
You don’t need to avoid carbs if you want to stay healthy and fit. Eat them in moderation every day, especially complex carbs like whole grains. Some people find it helpful to eat some high-carb foods, like oatmeal or toast with peanut butter, about 30 minutes before they go for a run. This gives you energy that lasts through your workout without making you feel weighed down afterward (5).
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Use Fibrous Fruits And Vegetable To Increase Satiety
Including fibrous fruits and vegetables in your diet can also help you feel more full after meals, which is important if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight while running. These foods digest slowly and keep you feeling satisfied for longer periods of time.
Be Aware Of Your Calorie Intake
You should also know how many calories you’re eating every day and how that relates to the amount of exercise you do. You’ll probably need to eat less than before if you start running regularly because your body will burn through the food you consume more quickly than it used to. Be sure not to cut too much out of your diet though since this could affect your health and fitness goals negatively.
Why Sleep Matters, Even When You’re Running 20 Minutes A Day
Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is important for anyone who wants to stay fit and healthy. This is even more true for athletes since a good night’s rest can optimize performance, speed up recovery after tough workouts, and help you stay focused on the road or trail every day (7). Try going to bed at the same time each night and getting between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to feel your best before running 20 minutes a day.
Here are a few more tips for improving the quality and quantity of your sleep for optimal results:
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake before bedtime
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool
- Avoid using electronic devices in bed
- Do some relaxation exercises or meditation before bedtime
These are all important things to keep in mind if you’re trying to get the most out of running for just 20 minutes each day. When you’re well-rested, you’ll find that it’s much easier to stick with a fitness routine and see results over time.
The Bottom Line
Running 20 minutes a day is a great way to get started on your fitness journey. It’s not too overwhelming, and you’re likely to see results fairly quickly if you stick with it. Just be sure to follow a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated throughout the day for the best possible experience.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A Paradigm of Uphill Running (2013, nih.gov)
- Calories burned in 30 minutes of leisure and routine activities (2021, harvard.edu)
- Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Effects of Protein Supplementation on performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance Training (2018, nih.gov)
- High-Quality Carbohydrates and Physical Performance (2017, nih.gov)
- Injuries in Runners; A Systematic Review on Risk Factors and Sex Differences (2015, nih.gov)
- Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review (2017, nih.gov)
- Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk (2015, nih.gov)
- Physical Activity Reduces Stress (n.d., adaa.org)
- Stretching Before and After Exercise: Effect on Muscle Soreness and Injury Risk (2005, nih.gov)
- The importance of Healthy Fats (2015, acefitness.org)
- The Importance of Posture When Running (2014, marathontrainingacademy.com)