Is It Okay to Run Every Day?
You just finished your morning run, and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. In fact, you wouldn’t mind feeling that “runner’s high” daily. But is it ok to run every day? That depends on your physical fitness level.
“It depends on what physical shape you are in and what your goals are,” Gretchen Zelek, AFAA certified fitness instructor and co-creator of Donuts and Pie Fitness. Running is a great cardio workout that can help with weight loss, but running every day may lead to fatigue or injury — especially when running long distances. And when you do the same workout every single day, you’re likely to hit a plateau.
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Before you add running to your daily schedule, here’s what you need to know.
Running Every Day: Benefits and Risks
First, the good: Running “is a great workout with many physical and mental health benefits, such as cardiovascular health, stress reduction, and weight management,” says Victoria Rodriguez, RRCA-certified running coach. It also helps build muscular endurance.
However, as with any exercise, it’s essential to listen to your body. “Running is a high-impact sport, so overtraining can lead to injury,” Rodriguez says.
Tips for avoiding injury
To help reduce your risk of injury, be sure to play it safe and follow the recommendation by the American Council on Exercise:
- Check with your doctor to ensure that running is a good form of exercise for you.
- Listen to your body and adjust or stop if you feel muscle soreness or pain.
- Allow yourself time to warm up and cool down.
- Exercise for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes per week with days off in between.
- Exercise at an intensity of 50 to 85 percent of maximal effort, but be mindful of your fitness level.
- Stay hydrated.
Even if you’re just taking a daily jog to clear your head, make sure you’re not overdoing it. “Though running is like active meditation, overdoing it can lead to burnout,” Zelek says. Research suggests overtraining can have a negative effect on your mood and your performance.
How Long to Run Every Day
If you’re mainly running to stay active or to relieve stress — i.e. you’re not an elite runner or training for a marathon — Zelek recommends limiting your mileage to three or four miles a day.
If you’re running 4 to 5 days per week, it’s important to consider what surface you’re running on:
- Grass is great for beginners because it cushions your step, creating less impact on your joints. But be careful, as it can be a little uneven and slippery when wet.
- Treadmills may not be the most exciting place to run, but they’re helpful when you can’t get outdoors due to bad weather or if you don’t have a safe running route nearby.
- If you’re a daily runner, keep in mind that harder surfaces — like synthetic turf, an athletic track, or the pavement — may put extra stress on your joints.
- Running on the beach with the sand between your toes feels great, but be careful of uneven areas that could cause you to roll your ankle.
How to Plan Running Every Day
Running is a solid cardio workout, but for a well-rounded workout routine, it’s important to incorporate other types of exercise — like strength training, HIIT, and core-building. Consider swapping out a few of your runs for some strength training, yoga, or Pilates workouts. You can also shake up your runs by doing intervals or hill sprints.
Also, keep in mind that taking a rest day or active recovery day when you need it is essential. It may seem counterintuitive to think that taking a break can help you reach your fitness goals — but it’s a lot easier to stay on track when you’re not sidelined by an injury.