Blog Fitness Workout Plans Running In Place: Is It A Good Workout?

Running In Place: Is It A Good Workout?

Lousy weather is a runner’s nightmare. You wake up to see that it’s raining, or snowing, or the temperature has plummeted overnight. Any other person would just roll over and go back to sleep. But since you’re a runner, you don’t have that option. You could use a treadmill and stay indoors, but if you’re like most people who enjoy the outdoors you probably haven’t invested in one of those yet. So what’s a runner to do when faced with bad weather? The solution is deceptively simple: run in place. At first glance, running in place may not seem like an effective workout. After all, you’re not going anywhere. But if you do it correctly, running in place can be a great way to stay fit when you can’t run outdoors.

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Is Running In Place As Effective As Running?

The short answer is no. Running in place is not nearly as intense as running outdoors. However, it is still a great workout and can be very beneficial if you do it correctly.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of running in place:

Pros

There are several reasons why you may choose to run in place instead of heading outdoors:

Convenience

Most runners will only resort to running in place if they truly have no other choice. When the weather is bad and you can’t get to a treadmill, running in place is the next best thing.

It’s also a great workout to do when you’re short on time. If you only have 30 minutes to squeeze in a workout, running in place may be your best option.

Versatility

There are many ways you can switch up your running in place workout to keep it interesting. You can do high knees, butt kicks, or even add in some jumping jacks. You can also use a jump rope or an agility ladder to make your workout more challenging.

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Intensity

Running in place is a great way to warm up before a race or a long run. It’s also a great way to cool down after a workout.

You can increase the intensity of your running in place workout by increasing the speed, adding inclines, or wearing a weighted vest.

Read More: Running While Overweight: Tips, Tricks And Debunking Myths

running in place

Cons

There are also some drawbacks to running in place

Limited Range Of Motion

Running in place targets the same muscles as running outdoors. However, you have a limited range of motion when running in place, which means you’re not working your muscles as hard as you could be.

This is especially true if you don’t add in any upper body movements.

Joint Stress

Your joints take a beating when you run, and running in place is no different. The impact of your feet hitting the ground can cause stress on your knees, ankles, and hips. If you have any joint problems, running in place may not be the best workout for you. 

Boredom

Running in place can get pretty boring, especially if you’re used to running outdoors. The monotony of running in the same spot can make it hard to stick with your workout.

To avoid getting bored, try adding a varied routine that has other cardio and strength-training exercises.

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Benefits Of Running In Place

Whether this exercise works for you or not depends on your fitness goals. While it may not be as intense as traditional running, there are several health benefits you can enjoy from running in place. They include:

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Heart Health

Aerobic exercise, like running in place, is great for your heart. It increases your heart rate and helps to reduce your blood pressure. This type of exercise can also help to improve your cholesterol levels (4).

When performed consistently, aerobic exercise can do wonders for your heart health. It is the best prevention against heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States (3).

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Stronger Muscles And Joints

Running in place targets several muscles (2):

  • Quadriceps – these are the muscles in the front of your thighs responsible for knee extension, or straightening your leg.
  • Core – your core muscles run from your hips to your shoulders and include your abs, back, and obliques. They are responsible for stabilizing your spine and trunk
  • Hamstrings – the muscles in the back of your thighs that are responsible for knee flexion,  hip extension, and trunk flexion
  • Glutes – the muscles in your butt that are responsible for hip extension, abduction, and external rotation. 
  • Shins –  the muscles and bones in the front of your lower leg

Running also strengthens the tendons and ligaments that support your joints. The stronger these muscles and connective tissues are, the less likely you are to experience joint pain or injury (2).

running in place

Weight Loss

Running in place can help you lose weight and keep it off (4). This exercise is a great way to burn calories and build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest.

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To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. This means you need to burn more calories than you consume. Running in place is a great way to create this calorie deficit. 

Improved Mood

Running releases endorphins, which are hormones that have mood-boosting effects. Several studies have shown that aerobic exercise can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety (1). 

If you’re looking for a natural way to boost your mood, running in place is a great option.

Better Balance, Agility, And Coordination

Balance is the ability to maintain your center of gravity over your base of support. This is important for runners because it helps them to avoid injuries.

The act of running in place requires you to constantly adjust your balance. This helps improve your proprioception or your body’s awareness of itself in space (2).

Improving your proprioception can also help you to run faster and with more agility (2). 

Running in place is also a great way to improve your coordination. This exercise requires you to coordinate your arms and legs in a synchronized manner. The better your coordination, the less likely you are to fall or trip while running (2).

Read More: How To Improve Running Endurance With 8 Simple Tips

running in place

How To Make Running In Place More Effective

Here are a few techniques to make sure you’re getting the most out of your running in place workout: 

High Knees

This exercise adds an extra layer of intensity to your running in place workout. It targets your quads and glutes, helping to tone these muscles. It also helps to improve your coordination and balance.

To do high knees:

  1. Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bring your right knee up towards your chest, keeping your left leg straight.
  3. Touch your right foot on the ground and then quickly bring your left knee up towards your chest.
  4. Alternate between legs as you move forward. 
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Butt Kicks

This exercise targets your hamstrings, helping to tone and strengthen these muscles. It also helps to improve your coordination.

To do butt kicks:

  1. Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bring your right heel up towards your butt, keeping your left leg straight.
  3. Touch your right foot on the ground and then quickly bring your left heel up towards your butt.
  4. Alternate between legs as you move forward.

running in place 

Jump Squats

This exercise adds an extra layer of intensity to your running in place workout. It targets your quads and glutes, helping to tone these muscles.

To do jump squats:

  1. Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lower into a squat, keeping your weight in your heels.
  3. Drive through your heels to jump up into the air.
  4. Land softly back into a squat position.
  5. Repeat for 10-20 reps.

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Plyometric Running

This exercise is similar to running in place, but with an added explosive element. It requires you to push off the ground with more force than running in place. This helps to improve your power and speed.

To do plyometric running:

  1. Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lower into a quarter squat position.
  3. Explosively drive through your heels to jump up into the air.
  4. Land softly back on your feet and repeat. 
  5. Repeat for 10-20 reps.
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running in place

Safety Tips For Running In Place

To avoid fatigue and injury:

Use Proper Form

The key to a good running-in-place workout is proper form. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed, your core engaged, and your back straight. 

Protect Your Joints

Running in place forces you to strike on the balls of your feet. This can put a lot of stress on your joints, so it’s important to choose a surface that’s even and firm. Land softly to reduce the impact on your joints. 

Add Arm Movements

To get a full-body workout, be sure to add in some arm movements. Swing your arms as you would if you were running outdoors. You can also do high knees or butt kicks to engage your lower body muscles. 

Vary Your Workout

To avoid boredom, mix up your running in place workout. Try adding in some jumping jacks or jump rope for a more cardio-based workout. Or, add in some agility ladder drills to improve your footwork.

Stretch Before And After

Your muscles need to warm up before a running in place workout. Be sure to do some dynamic stretches like leg swings or arm circles. And don’t forget to cool down with some static stretches afterwards.

The Bottom Line

Running in place is a great alternative to running outdoors when the weather is bad. It’s also a convenient and versatile workout that you can do anywhere and anytime.

However, running in place is not as intense as running outdoors and can be hard on your joints. If you have any joint problems, it may be best to stick with another type of workout.

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DISCLAIMER:

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!

SOURCES:

  1. Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety (2013, nih.gov)
  2. Effects of running in place accompanied by abdominal drawing-in on the posture of healthy adults (2015, nih.gov)
  3. Heart Disease Facts (n.d., cdc.gov)
  4. Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Habitual Running on Indices of Health in Physically Inactive Adults (2015, nih.gov)
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