The American Council on Exercise recommends that everyone should aim to get two-and-a-half hours of exercise a week. If you’re not yet ready to hit the gym for an hour, don’t worry! You can start small by adding in some simple running into your weekly workout routine and work your way up from there. You’ll see that increasing your fitness level is easier than you think.
Running for 30 minutes multiple times a week is a great way to get in the recommended amount of exercise. Furthermore, if you’re just starting, running for that amount of time isn’t as challenging as working out at the gym for an hour.
In this article, we’ll cover why incorporating running is great for your health, the benefits you can expect to see by running for 30 minutes each day, and how to get started if you’ve never run before.
Benefits Of Running For 30 Minutes Every Day
Running has many benefits that offer the advantage of improving your physical appearance as well as your overall health.
Below are some of the inspiring reasons why everyone should be running for 30 minutes multiple times a week:
Running is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. When you run, the muscles in your body use energy that comes from your body’s stored carbohydrates or sugars. When your body uses this stored sugar, it burns fat as well.
Running for 30 minutes can burn calories depending on several factors, such as:
- Running Pace. The more intense the activity, the more calories burned off in a shorter period. The slower you run at a casual pace, the fewer calories burned off.
- Incline. Running up hills uses more energy and, as a result, burns more calories (1).
- Body Weight. Heavier individuals burn more calories when running than those who are lighter.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that calorie burning is only one benefit of running. There are more.
Builds Strong Bones
Running is a weight-bearing exercise. What this means is that the force of your body against the ground as you run helps keep your bones strong. This is especially important as you age and can help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis (9).
Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease
When you run, your heart rate increases and continues to rise as you increase the intensity level. This elevates the amount of blood flowing through your heart. When this happens, it increases oxygen to all parts of your body, which improves cardiovascular health over time (4).
Another way that running improves heart health is by lowering bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels (4).
Improves Cardiovascular Fitness
Cardiovascular fitness is the ability of your heart and lungs to work together as a team when you’re physically active. When you run, your heart rate increases and this puts stress on your cardiovascular system (6).
As your cardiovascular system becomes stronger, it can handle more stress without causing problems like chest pain or shortness of breath. Over time, this improved fitness level will also help reduce the risk of developing heart disease (6).
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Type 2 diabetes is a serious health condition that can be prevented by regular exercise, including running for 30 minutes every day. When you run, your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, which helps keep your blood sugar levels under control (4).
Sparks New Brain Cells
Running can help to create new brain cells. This occurs because when you run, your body releases a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This protein not only helps create new brain cells, but also protects the ones you have from dying (2).
Running releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel happy. Not only does this improve your mood during and after your run, but it can also help reduce stress levels and anxiety (5).
What Do You Need To Start Running Every Day For 30 Minutes?
As a beginner, there are a few things that you’ll need before you can start running:
Running gear doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is important to have the right clothes and shoes.
For clothing, you’ll need a good pair of running shorts or pants, a T-shirt, and a lightweight jacket or vest. You’ll also need a good pair of running shoes that fit well.
The importance of finding good running shoes can’t be overemphasized. Your choice of running shoes can make or break your running routine because:
- If your shoes don’t fit well, you’ll experience discomfort and be prone to blisters.
- The wrong shoes can lead to shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and other running injuries.
- Your shoes will wear out more quickly if they’re not the right type for your running style.
In addition to clothing and shoes, you’ll also need a hydration kit. Staying hydrated when you run prevents overheating and dehydration – both of which can affect your health and performance (6). Make sure to bring along a water bottle or hydration pack.
A watch helps track time, distance, and pace while you run. If you don’t have a watch, many phone apps can do the same thing. Listening to music can help keep you motivated during your run, so you might consider having an iPod or other music device.
If you’re having a hard time getting started, come up with a motivational mantra to repeat to yourself. Examples of mantras that work are:
- “I can do this.”
- “I’m strong and I can run for 30 minutes.”
- “I’m running to get healthy and be happy.”
It can be whatever works for you! Once you have the necessary gear, you’re ready for the next step.
Right Diet And Meal Plan
Eating the right foods can fuel your runs and help you achieve your fitness goals faster. However, it can be challenging to decide what to eat and what not to eat.
There are healthy choices within all food groups. Some examples of nutrient-dense foods that offer the nutrients you need include (8):
- Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal
- Vegetables like broccoli and spinach
- Fruits like grapefruit and bananas
- Dairy products like low-fat cheese and yogurt
- Lean meats like beef and chicken breast without skin
The best diet is one that fits your lifestyle, so choose a meal plan that’s easy for you to follow. Here are some rules of thumb when trying to eat better at home or on the go:
- Don’t skip meals. You’ll get hungry and overeat later, which can lead to weight gain.
- Schedule your workouts for when you’re most likely to follow through – early morning, before work, etc.
- Eat breakfast every day within an hour of waking up and include a healthy mix of protein and carbs (an egg white omelet with berries is a good choice).
- Eat a light, nutrient-dense lunch that will fuel your afternoon workout, but doesn’t bog you down.
- Dinner should be light so that you can sleep well and recover for tomorrow’s run.
Wondering which foods to avoid?
- Foods that are high in sugar and bad fats that can lead to weight gain and other health problems (10).
- While alcohol in moderation seems to have some benefits for heart health, it can interfere with your overall fitness routine if consumed too frequently or in large amounts.
- Salty and fatty foods like chips, french fries, fast food, hamburgers, hot dogs, pork products (bacon), etc. should also be avoided as much as possible because they’ll make you feel sluggish and bloated after eating them. Plus fatty foods aren’t good for the arteries and may increase the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease (10).
Realistic Plan Based On Your Fitness Level
Once you have your gear and diet figured out, you need a running workout plan.
If you’re just starting, begin by running for ten (10) minutes and gradually add five (5) minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes. If you’re already a runner, increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week to avoid injury.
Both plans can be modified as needed to fit your schedule and current fitness level.
Your running routine doesn’t have to be the same every day. You can mix up your workouts by adding in hills, speed work, or long runs on the weekends.
You can also incorporate cross-training days to keep your routine interesting. Cross-training is simply doing another form of exercises such as biking, swimming, or weightlifting on days that you don’t run. This will help improve your overall fitness level and prevent boredom.
Be sure to rest on days that you don’t run. Your body needs time to recover so you can perform at your best the next time you lace up your shoes.
Rest days can involve activities such as yoga, stretching, Pilates, or light weightlifting.
Mastering proper running form is an important part of staying injury-free.
There are four (4) main components to proper running form (7):
- Taking quicker strides
- Landing softly with your midfoot or forefoot
- Pulling your body forward by engaging the core muscles
- Lifting your knees up high.
The idea is that this will reduce the impact on the knees and lower back which can lead to pain and injuries. You’ll also be able to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time with good form.
Some of the common runner’s injuries resulting from poor form are runner’s knee, shin splints, and iliotibial band syndrome (3).
If you’re having trouble with your form, it’s best to seek the help of a running coach or physical therapist who can help you correct any bad habits.
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Tips For Building A 30-Minutes-A-Day Running Routine
If you’re just getting started, here are some helpful tips for you to consider:
Increase The Pace And Intensity Gradually
Don’t try to go too fast or too hard right from the start. This can lead to injury and frustration. Start by running slowly and then gradually increase your pace each week. You should also aim to increase the intensity of your runs gradually.
Schedule Your Runs
It’s important to schedule your runs so that you have time for them; this will help ensure that you stick with the program. Running regularly is one of the best ways to improve your running endurance and speed.
Hydrate Before And After Your Runs
Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your runs. This will help you stay hydrated and avoid any potential health problems (6). Eating a healthy snack after a run is also a good way to refuel and help your body recover. Some good post-run snacks include yogurt, fruit, or a protein shake.
Get Enough Rest
Running is hard on the body, so it’s important to get enough rest between runs. This will allow your muscles to heal and prevent injury.
Make Running Fun
If you don’t enjoy running, it’s going to be hard to stick with it for long. Find a scenic route or try out new trails. Join a running group or find a friend to run with. Listen to music or an audiobook while you run. There are lots of ways to make running more enjoyable so that you’ll want to do it more often.
Listen To Your Body
If you’re feeling pain or discomfort, it’s time to back off and take a break. Rest is an important part of any training program; you need to allow your body time to heal so you can continue running without any setbacks.
Get A Running Buddy
If you’re struggling to stick with your running routine, it might help to have someone to run with. Having a buddy will keep you accountable and make running more enjoyable.
The Bottom Line
Running for 30 minutes offers a lot of health benefits, from weight loss to reducing the risk of chronic diseases. It’s a great way to get in shape and improve your overall fitness level. But remember, safety is key so start slowly, build up gradually, and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right– stop! And seek medical attention. With the right gear, diet, and workout plan, you can be running for 30 minutes in no time!
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)
- Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body B-hydroxybutyrate (2016, nih.gov)
- Injuries in Runners; A Systematic Review on Risk Factors and Sex Differences (2015, nih.gov)
- Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk (2015, nih.gov)
- Physical Activity Reduces Stress (n.d., adaa.org)
- Running and jogging – health benefits (2013, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Running Technique is an Important Component of Running Economy and Performance (2017, nih.gov)
- The best foods to fuel a workout (2007, mayoclinic.org)
- The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients (2018, nih.gov)
- The role of dietary fat in obesity (1997, pubmed.gov)