Running conjures up a love/hate relationship…people either love it, or they hate it. It’s painful, tedious, and exhausting, but the incredible benefits outweigh the hatred. Understanding the right way to warm up and cool down can add to the health benefits of running. Even short runs can leave you feeling energized, more focused, and happier, and can improve your overall health. It’s even a great way to meet people. The list of benefits below are only a handful of what running can offer and when you make it a regular habit, the rewards are long-term.

Running can be done almost anywhere with no equipment, even shoes aren’t really necessary for some people. You can even run while submerged up to your neck in water. For the rest of us, a good pair of running shoes, or even just sneakers, can prevent injury.

  • Don’t skip the warm-up, Pre-run stretching is more likely to cause injury if not preceded by a warm-up.
  • Be sure to walk for a bit after finishing to allow time to cool down gradually.
  • Always stretch after you run to help get rid of lactic acid, which makes muscles ache. Stretching also will allow them to become stronger much faster.
  • Always drink fluids before, after, and during a run. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

WARNING: While running is a superb form of exercise, there is an important, yet often overlooked, caveat. Constant impact is hard on your skeleton, and while the benefits of strengthening bones are high, you can damage your knees, feet, hips and skeletal system if you are overweight. If you are more than 25 pounds overweight, you should not be running or jogging on anything paved, stick to dirt tracks and woodland trails. If you are more than 50 pounds overweight, you should find a different low-impact exercise until you can get within range of your goal weight before starting running.

One no-impact exercise to consider is running underwater while submerged to your neck. You only weigh 10% of your body weight underwater, and water jogging burns the same amount of calories as running due to the resistance of the water. However, you will miss the bone-density building benefits of an impact exercise. Be sure to drink plenty of water while water jogging, because you do still sweat. It’s just not as noticeable unless the water is really warm, too.

You can run backwards, too.

This uses 30 percent more energy than running forward at the same pace, and burns more calories. It reverses the typical “soft takeoff” (when muscle-tendon units shorten) and “hard landing” (when muscle-tendon units are stretched) which requires more steps and more energy.

It also puts less impact on your knees, so if you have knee pain or problems, this is an option. It also appears to be a safer form of training that can actually improve your forward running skills.

So, to answer your question, “How many calories do you burn running a mile?”, take a look at the chart below.

Calories burned are determined by your body weight, the intensity of the exercise, your fitness level and your metabolism. Likewise, most charts and calculators are only guesstimates and vary throughout the internet. Therefore this is only a rough guide for those who happen to fit this particular weight chart. If you weigh a different amount, you may want to check with several different online calculators and take the average of the results.

Running for 1 hour 130 lb 155 lb 180 lb 205 lb 240 lb
3 mph (20 minute mile) 295 352 408 465 545
5 mph (12 minute mile) 472 563 654 745 905
5.2 mph (11.5 minute mile) 531 633 735 838
6 mph (10 min mile) 590 704 817 931
6.7 mph (9 min mile) 649 774 899 1024
7 mph (8.5 min mile) 679 809 940 1070
7.5 mph (8 min mile) 738 880 1022 1163
8 mph (7.5 min mile) 797 950 1103 1256 1286
8.6 mph (7 min mile) 826 985 1144 1303
9 mph (6.5 min mile) 885 1056 1226 1396
10 mph (6 min mile) 944 1126 1308 1489
10.9 mph (5.5 min mile) 1062 1267 1471 1675

Backwards – multiply the above by 30%

Physical Health

  • Many people start running in order to manage weight because it’s great for weight loss, for maintaining weight, and even for gaining a more muscular look because running burns more calories per minute than any other form of cardiovascular exercise, EXCEPT for cross country skiing which is the all-time number one best exercise for everything.
  • Running helps build muscles and gaining more muscle helps you lose weight by burning excess fat. Interestingly, the motion of that fat moving up and down, helps to break it down into manageable portions so that the body can get rid of it. Running also helps tighten the skin as the fat comes off.
  • Sitting allows bones to get weaker, while running regularly prevents bone loss and improves bone density and strength.. It also increases the strength of tendons and ligaments which increases joint strength and stability which in turn reduces the risk of ankle, knee, and hip injuries.
  • Regular,running can reduce the effects of fatigue and aging. by promoting production of human growth hormone (HGH), which helps to keep us young looking and prevents our internal organs from aging quickly. Many celebrities and others get injections of HGH for the same purpose and totally miss the other benefits of running that HGH cannot provide.
  • Running can improve balance and coordination by building strength in your lower body, muscles, tendons and ligaments which can prevent future injury due to increased stability. If your chosen paths are unpaved trails with uneven surfaces, rocks. tree roots and other obstacles, you quickly learn to maintain better control your body prevent tripping and stumbling.
  • Regular running has been prescribed by doctors to patients who are at high risk of, or in the early stages of, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, and hypertension. It reduces the risk of heart attacks and stroke by strengthening the cardiovascular system and increasing the amount of blood that the heart can pump without over-exertion. And as with most exercise, it helps lower blood pressure. As you run, arteries expand and contract nearly three times more than normal which helps maintain their elasticity and reduces the risk of blood clots.
  • Regular running can help reduce the effects of diabetes;help maintain healthy blood sugar; and reduce resistance to insulin. This can decrease the amount of medication needed.
  • Running can reduce number of, and the severity of, your asthma attacks because it encourages the body to both strengthen and utilize the 50% of our lungs and bronchi that usually go unused.
  • Running raises HDL (or “good”) cholesterol.
  • Running can lower the risk of breast cancer in women.
  • Running boosts the immune system by creating a higher concentration of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that help attack disease.

Mental Health

  • Running improves attitude and has been used to treat clinical depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and addictions of all kinds. After only a few minutes of running, the brain starts to release endorphins that can cause euphoria (known as the “Runner’s high”) or even just a general sense of happiness that naturally improves your mood.
  • Running builds confidence and self-esteem, especially for someone who has lost weight and gained a better self-image. It’s the ability to defeat challenges, set and meet goals, grow stronger, by both literally and figuratively climbing hills and clearing obstacles which gives a feeling of empowerment and freedom, as a well as feeling in control of your health.
  • Running can also help you learn focus and determination. The sheer willpower and strength that gets you through a run, especially when you’d rather skip it, strengthens your mind and gives you a “can do” attitude, focus and determination in other aspects of your life.
  • Running forces the body to exert excess energy and release hormones and is also good for getting away from it all, by yourself and giving you time to think about your issues or just escape them, and this releases tension in the assist in living a low stress life. Distance running is great for clearing your mind, solving problems and finding answers as you zone out, while speed running is great for working through aggression or anger because it allows you to focus those emotions into sprints, and allows you to feel better in no time. It also reduces the chances of developing tension headaches.
  • Running 4 hours before bedtime can improve the quality of sleep.

Brain Health

  • Running makes you appear smarter, provides a “younger,” more nimble brain, grows new nerve cells, helps you learn better, and boosts memory. It’s the vigorous cardiovascular activity that pumps more oxygen-rich and glucose-rich blood into the brain. The more aerobically challenging the exercise is, the greater the mental payoff that results.
  • Running tends to spark neurogenesis, which is the growth of new nerve cells, and angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis. Both of these processs increase brain-tissue volume, which is extremely important since our brains shrink with age. One study showed that older adults who engaged in regular running actually increased the volume of the hippocampus by 2%. This area of the brain is involved in learning and memory, and is the area that is most affected by neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It is not otherwise known to enlarge in adulthood.
  • Those who exercise are better able to recall stored memories. Running appears to improve the quality of brain signal transmissions in the caudate nucleus which supports the memory curcuits.
  • Running appears to “rescue” brain cells that would otherwise die, and in general, brain cells do not regenerate, so the longer they can be left alive, the better off we are.
  • Running can potentially help stave off age-related dementia, and help you get better at learning and storng informaton and memories. Regular running can improve cognitive skills, which, in turn with improved focus, can help forestall dementia.
  • Regular running appears to make the functions that happen in the frontal cortex, such as decision-making, planning, organizing, and multi-tasking your brain, a lot easier.