Running every day can have many benefits. However, the number of days in a row that it is safe to run depends on a person’s goals, their level of fitness, and whether they have any ongoing medical conditions.
A meta-analysis from 2015 found that in physically inactive adults, 1 year of routine running:
- reduced body mass
- lowered body fat ratio
- reduced resting heart rate
- increased maximum oxygen uptake
- raised levels of high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol
These health benefits seemed to be more significant in people with longer training sessions. However, running too much, too intensely, or incorrectly can have negative health effects.
In this article, we describe the potential benefits and drawbacks of running every day. We also provide safety advice and tips on making running a regular healthy habit.
Experts recommend that each week adults engage in:
- 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity
- 75–150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity
- a combination of the two
Moderate aerobic activity includes activities such as brisk walking, while vigorous aerobic activity includes jogging and running.
For many adults, getting more physical activity brings additional benefits.
Also, a person’s physical and mental health may benefit most if they engage in exercise regularly throughout the week, rather than attempting to do a week’s worth of exercise in one or two sessions.
While many studies have highlighted the benefits of regular physical activity, researchers know less about the specific effects of running every day.
In addition, the results of studies that assess the impact of running tend to be hard to compare because they refer to different populations of people, running routines, and conditions.
A person’s ideal running routine depends on their:
- overall health, including effects of any ongoing issues
- exercise goals
Several studies have demonstrated that when a person runs safely, regular running usually provides more health benefits than risks.
Most researchers behind these investigations have concluded that the frequency of running may be more important than the speed, duration, or intensity of a run.
While there seems to be a positive correlation between health and regular running, the right running routine varies from person to person. Research indicates that many people do not receive additional health benefits from excessive running.
Also, running is not safe for people with certain health conditions. Anyone with a chronic or ongoing condition should talk with a healthcare professional before starting a new form of exercise.
A healthcare provider can help determine the right frequency, intensity, and duration of a run, if running is appropriate, and recommend strategies for resting and practicing good self-care between sessions.
For many people, running is a relatively easy form of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity. It can also be time-efficient and inexpensive.
Research evaluating the benefits of running found that:
- Regular running may reduce the risk of death from any medical issue by around 29% and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 50%.
- Jogging may increase the overall age-adjusted life span of men by 6.2 years and women by 5.6 years.
- Running at least three times weekly at a slow-to-average pace for up to 2.5 hours per week may be associated with the lowest risk of mortality.
- Regular running might reduce the risk of dying from cancer by 30–50%.
- Regular running may reduce the risk of dying from respiratory infections and neurological conditions.
- Running for 1 hour may translate into 7 hours of extended life for many adults.
- Running at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes each morning for 3 weeks may improve sleep patterns and psychological functioning.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, regular physical activity may help adults:
- reach and maintain a healthy weight
- reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and stroke
- reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
- reduce the risk of certain cancers
- increase life span and immune function
- improve overall mood and mental health
- improve functionality
- prevent falls and disability
- improve bone density and muscle strength
- reduce anxiety and depression
- improve sleep
- improve cognition and overall brain health
- reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
- improve the overall quality of life
Regular running seems to have health benefits for many people. But it is not a safe form of exercise for everyone, particularly people with certain medical conditions.
Also, running that is too vigorous, frequent, or excessive tends to increase the risk of complications, including physical injury and overheating.
By some estimates, 33% of recreational runners experience at least one injury, and about 75% of these injuries involve the lower legs. Runners are also more prone to back and groin injuries.
Heart attacks are rare during physical activity. However, a person with any type of cardiovascular disease should consult a doctor before they take up running.
People with other health conditions should also seek medical advice before starting to run or increasing the intensity of a running routine, especially people with:
- respiratory conditions
- conditions that increase the risk of falling
- conditions that interfere with mobility
- conditions that increase the risk of muscle, joint, or bone injuries
Slow down, take a break, or seek shelter, hydration, or home medical care if any of the following occurs while running:
- cramps or blisters
- sunburn or windburn
- cuts or abrasions from falls
- weakness, tingling, or numbness
- a headache
- extreme exhaustion
- any trouble breathing, including extreme shortness of breath
Seek emergency medical care if any of the severe symptoms below occur during or after a run:
- dizziness or faintness
- balance, mobility, or coordination problems
- extreme, uncontrollable sweating
- shaking or tremors
- vision changes
- ringing in the ears or hearing changes
- the heart rate becoming rapid or uncontrollable
To reduce the risk of injury and other health complications, runners should also:
- warm up with moderate-to-light intensity exercise
- cool down and stretch after running
- stay hydrated before, after, and during workouts
- avoid running in extremely hot, humid, or dry conditions
- refrain from running in the middle of the day
- apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 30 to all exposed areas
- wear protective clothing when running outdoors during the day
- stop running if it no longer feels good
- set realistic goals based on factors specific to their situation
- avoid running on uneven, unclear, sandy, or hard surfaces
- continually scan the area for any hazards, such as sticks, branches, rocks, holes, and cars
- refrain from running until injuries have healed
- treat soft tissue injuries with rest, ice, compression, and elevation
- use correct running technique and form
- wear suitable running clothing and shoes that absorb or repel moisture and allow for airflow
- avoid running in heavily polluted environments, such as by roadways or in areas with particles of sand or dust in the air
- run in well-lit, safe public areas
- wear reflective material if running at night
- run with a cellphone or a friend, or let others know about the intended route and time frame
The following strategies can often help a person get the maximum benefits of running:
Begin with a moderate intensity
A person should start by running or walking at a pace that allows them totalk without feeling breathless. The duration or frequency of the exercise should never cause pain or injury.
Begin with short periods of light-to-moderate intensity exercise throughout the week. Then, gradually progress to more frequent, longer, and more vigorous sessions.
To lose weight, gradually increase the routine
For adults looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, slowly and steadily getting more exercise over several weeks and months can help.
This often involves aiming to get more than 300 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise weekly.
Other general running tips include:
- trying additional types of exercise, including those that improve strength, balance, and flexibility
- making a realistic plan that takes into account factors such as age, sex, medical conditions, and health goals
- if running is not a good fit, replacing it with another form of aerobic exercise — such as swimming, cycling, or brisk walking
The overall impact of running every day remains unclear, and there is no one-size-fits-all running routine.
Research indicates that regular running may provide health benefits if a person runs safely. However, a variety of exercises may offer the same or similar benefits.
Anyone with an ongoing medical condition should consult a healthcare provider before taking up running or ramping up a routine. This is especially important for people with heart or respiratory conditions or any others that increase the risk of injury.
People who are new to running or currently inactive should start with frequent, low-to-moderate intensity exercises such as walking or brisk walking before progressing to jogging and running. Increasing the intensity gradually can help reduce the risk of injury.