What are the Risks and Benefits of Running on a Daily Basis Long Term?
(Louisville, KY & Las Vegas, NV)
I would like to know what the risks and benefits are of running daily, particularly over the longer term. I would like to start running for my health long term, but I am concerned about whether that is the right thing to do. Thank you.
Answer by Dom:
Thanks for your questions about the risks and benefits of running on a daily basis.
There are many long-term benefits to daily exercise. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of developing a number of chronic conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. It can also help improve mental health, cognitive function, and sleep quality. In addition, regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of obesity, and improve overall quality of life. So, as you see Mike, there are plenty and plenty of benefits!
The key risks to a daily running routine would be the increased risk of injury and also, if you are really, really pushing yourself, the risk of burn-out. But these risks can be mitigated. It really shouldn't stop you from running on a frequent basis!!
When you are starting to run or starting any other type of physical activity, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts
to reduce the risk of injury. It is also important to learn to listen to your body and when niggles come up, you take it easy for a few days. When this happens, it is usually wise to stop your running for a couple of days, to avoid bigger problems. Should you be running every day? Well, maybe not.
When you want to improve your performance then more running is definitely beneficial. Elite runners run 6-7 days per week and do multiple workouts per day. And although I am clearly a big fan and advocate of regular running, I think there is much to be said to be a little bit more varied with your exercise program to avoid the risks discussed before.
As an example, my current exercise program generally includes at its core four runs per week and a weight lifting session with my personal trainer. I usually add in one or two sessions on the exercise bike and one or two gym visits. In case you are wondering how I fit it all in, there are some days that I do a run in the morning and weights in the late afternoon!
Why the strength training?
Well, strength training can be very beneficial for runners, as it can help improve running performance and reduce the risk of injury. Some of the specific benefits of strength training for runners include:Increased muscle strength: Strength training can help runners build stronger muscles, which can help improve their running speed and endurance.Improved running economy: Strength training can help runners become more efficient in their movements, allowing them to run faster with less effort.Reduced risk of injury: Stronger muscles can help absorb the impact of running and reduce the risk of common overuse injuries such as shin splints and runner's knee.Improved posture: Strength training can help runners maintain good posture, which is important for good running form and to avoid injuries.Better overall fitness: In addition to improving running performance, strength training can help runners develop overall fitness and improve their overall health.
Why the cross training ?
Well, for me personally there are a couple of reasons. Reducing the risk of injury: running is an impact sport. Every step you take there is a lot of force that moves through your body. Biking, swimming, rowing etc still provide a challenge to your cardiovascular system, but give your legs a break from the pounding of the pavement!Development of whole body fitness: like strength training, doing other types of exercise can help strengthen other muscles. A stronger body means a faster body. Clearly, the more running you do, the more you will benefit, but if you cannot fit any more running into your schedule, cross training is a welcome change that still helps to make you a stronger runner.Recovery: rather than not doing anything, doing some cardio on your non-running days will help promote blood flow and will assist in muscle repair. Convenience: For me, with an exercise bike sitting at home, it is a convenient thing to fit in quickly. Especially now that we are working from home more, I can use my work lunch break, or a quick 30-45 minutes before or after work to do a workout.
Clearly, you need to make up your own mind about what you want to do and what your overall exercise schedule looks like. Rest assured, the benefits of a daily running / exercise routine are massive.
I wish you all the best with working out what to do from here. Check out some of the following links for more information:
Beginner Running Tips
Increasing Mileage Safely
Cross Training for Runners
Hope this helps.
Best of luck.