Any exercise will benefit you more than just sitting on the couch, mindlessly watching TV and eating potato chips. Running a mile every day won't give you the amount of exercise experts say you need -- 30 minutes per day -- unless you're a very slow runner. That doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort; any activity that gets your heart rate up can benefit your cardiovascular health. Consider increasing your workout to 30 minutes by adding walk times at the beginning and end if you can't run for 30 minutes straight.
Time It Takes
The average female runner -- one solidly in the 50th percentile -- over age 17 can knock out a mile in approximately 10 minutes, 22 seconds, according to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. If you go slower, don't worry about it; the older you are, or the more overweight, the slower you might complete your mile. Your pace will probably pick up over time.
When you run one mile, you might feel like it calls for a celebratory ice cream sundae. But watch out -- the slippery slope to weight gain even when you exercise begins here. Running 1 mile only burns around 121 calories for a runner weighing 160 pounds, according to MayoClinic.com's calculations. If you weigh a little more, you'll burn a little more. That ice cream sundae has considerably more calories. In fact, for that calorie expenditure, the most you can eat and not raise your daily intake equals a slice of bread with a teaspoon of peanut butter. Or, if you're craving sweets, half a candy bar.
If you're hoping to lose weight while running one mile per day, prepare to be patient. By working off 121 calories per day, you'll have a calorie deficit of 868 calories per week, which sounds pretty impressive. But to lose a single pound, you need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. In other words, it will take you around four weeks to work off a single pound by running 1 mile. Even worse, when you first start running, you may experience a temporary weight gain, as your stressed muscles retain fluid to heal themselves and also accumulate glycogen for energy, which also holds extra water.
While running a mile per day doesn't mean it's open season on the refrigerator contents or that your scale will reveal immediate double-digits drops, it does have health benefits. Regular aerobic activity can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, often the precurser to diabetes. You can also reduce your lipid levels and blood pressure, which impact your cardiovascular health, with regular exercise. Staying physically active also reduces your risk of developing certain types of cancer such as breast and colon cancer, PubMed Health reports. Running can also strengthen your bones and might even help you live longer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.