Running as a Workout: How Far Do You Need to Run to Get the Benefits?

If you know that you should probably include running in your workout, but it’s not your favorite exercise, you may be in luck. A review of various studies has revealed that to get all the major benefits that come from running, you don’t have to work out for very long. Just five or six miles of jogging per week is sufficient for most individuals.

Researchers state that people about five or six miles over the course of one or two jogging sessions (for less than 51 minutes per workout session) each week had lower risk for certain types of cancers. These runners also lowered their risk for high cholesterol, stroke, osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure, in comparison to people who jogged less, or didn’t jog at all. This information is especially important for the African-American community since Black men and women are affected by diseases like high cholesterol and high blood pressure at a disproportionate rate.

The studies also explored the effects of running on cardiovascular mortality, as well as death from any cause. The results indicate that the people who ran a minimal number of miles had the same reduction in disease risk as people who ran more often and for longer distances.

The researchers involved in the study write that “maximal health benefits of running appear to occur at quite low doses, well below those suggested by the U.S. physical activity guidelines.” The government currently recommends that adults get at least 75 minutes of rigorous activity weekly. The study was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal.

Individuals who are running for the purpose of losing weight should apply the same logic when including running in their workouts. It can be beneficial to stick to a routine workout schedule and running route. However, those who have been pushing their physical limits by running longer distances in the pursuit of better health may see these findings as great news.

According to science, there should be a clear goal in mind when it comes to running for better health. The lead author of the study review and medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevent for New Orleans’ Ochsner Medical Center, Carl J. Lavie, MD, states that “running for 20 to 30 minutes, or about a mile and a half to three miles, twice per week would appear to be perfect.”


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