How Many Miles Should I Run a Week to Stay Healthy?

Running between 15 and 20 miles (24.1 and 32.2 kilometers) a week is the sweet spot for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

Running is a great free form of exercise that isn’t bound to a team effort. It’s a fabulous, free way to exercise, but is there such a thing as too much running?

Experts advise that you should run no more than 30 miles (48.3 km) in a week (unless you’re training for a long-distance race), but even then, much depends on your own fitness levels and your goals.

Let’s explore a little further.

Think About Why You Want to Run

Are you starting to run for the very first time, or perhaps picking it up again after dropping off from the habit? Are you looking to build up stamina, or to lose weight?

Everybody’s personal reasons for wanting to run regularly will be different. And your goal will determine the kind of approach you want to take to your running.

Is Running 20 Miles (32.2 km) a Week Good?

If you’re a seasoned runner, then it’s great! That’s a few miles a day, with a couple of rest days in between.

But if you’re not used to running, or you’ve been out of the game for a while, then you’ll want to start much more slowly. Do just one or two miles per run and have a break of a day in between. Then, start to build up, taking your time.

Does Running 2 Miles A Day Help You Get In Shape?

How Far Should I Be Able to Run Without Stopping?

If you’re a beginner, then work up to being able to jog for 20 minutes without stopping. The important word here is ‘jog.’ If you’re looking to get into sprinting, then that’s another sport entirely!

I’ve designed a great free plan to get you to the point of running 1 mile (1.6 km) and beyond, check it out here:

How To Run 1 Mile When You’re Out Of Shape

Running for fitness is all about taking it slowly and working your way up. There’s no need to worry about your speed if you’re just starting out. Even if you end up loving going for a run, then there are still no rules about how fast you have to jog, unless you’re working at beating your own time.

Related: 10 Tips To Keep Running When You Feel Like Stopping

You’ll find that once you’ve built up to 20 minutes of running without stopping, then soon you’ll be able to go up to 25 minutes, then half an hour, and so on. By the time you can run for a whole hour without stopping, then congratulations! You’ll have practically completed a 10K run.

Related: Can you run a half marathon if you can run a 10K?

How Many KM a Week Should I Run to Stay Healthy?

Depending on where you live, you’ll either measure distance in miles or kilometers. Miles are used in the USA, the UK, and some other countries, whereas the rest of Europe along with Japan, Australia, China, and as much as 81% of the rest of the world!

We’ve no idea why some countries stick with using the imperial system (miles) when practically everyone else uses metric (kilometers), but there you go!

1 kilometer is 0.62 miles. So, working on the premise of 20 miles (32.2 km) a week being a healthy balance when it comes to running, then this would work out at 32 kilometers.

How Much Running is Healthy Per Day?

Once again, we come back to the question of goals. Are you a runner who’s used to running five miles a day and barely feeling it? You could up your running to 6 miles (9.7 km) a day and see if that makes a difference to your stamina, and to your waistline.

If you’re only just starting out, then you’ll be in for a world of disappointment if you imagine simply putting on some sneakers and heading out to run for 5 miles (8.0 km).

But the most important thing is that you’re putting on your sneakers at all! Running for just 5 to 10 minutes per day is thought to have incredible health benefits, reducing the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and even diseases like diabetes and arthritis.

Related: 20 Benefits Of Running 3 Times A Week – Your Key To A Healthier Life!

But it doesn’t mean that the longer you run, the better you’ll feel, either. There comes a point when even if you were to carry on running it wouldn’t give you any more benefits and could actually do you more harm than good.

Running for more than 5 hours per week is actually shown to have no extra health benefits. So, even if you have the stamina, there’s no reason to continue going for hours and hours at a time. Unless you’re getting into endurance running, that is! And for those runners, it’s all about the sheer love of running, rather than reaching for any particular health-related goals.

Related: 12 Health Benefits Of Running You Shouldn’t Ignore!

How Many Miles Should I Run a Week to Lose Weight?

It’s not as simple as saying “this number of miles equals these many pounds of weight loss.”

It’s approximated that one mile (1.6 km) equals 100 calories burned off. If you’re a larger runner, you will burn more than 100 calories. If you’re a more petite runner, you will burn less than 100 calories a mile. You’d need to therefore run for 35 miles to lose a pound which is unheard of in one workout – DO NOT DO THIS. Instead, you need to focus on eating unprocessed foods that are satiating with a relatively low glycemic index.

What are some of the best foods for runners? Find out here –> What are the best superfoods for runners?

But there’s more to losing weight than simply running. If you combine exercise with cutting down on your calorie intake, then you’ll find that you lose weight much more quickly. Find the balance between eating well and exercising, rather than simply running until you drop.

Is There a Specific Weekly Volume of Running When it Becomes Harmful?

Running becomes harmful when has more of a negative impact than a positive one. As we discussed earlier, more than 5 hours per week of running will have no extra benefits, but there’s plenty of damage that can be done before you get that far.

Running has a huge impact on the joints, muscles, and even your bones. It can also become an obsessive pastime. As with anything you do to your body, it’s all about moderation.

Stop if your running habits are causing you pain, and give your body time to heal. Stop if your running habits are becoming obsessive. There are other ways to exercise, ones that will cause less impact on you.

Related: Are half marathons bad for you? and Are marathons dangerous?

Related: How to make running a habit! 15 Ways To Turn Your Loathe Into A Habit!

What is the Healthiest Distance to Run?

It’s thought that between 15 and 20 miles (24.1 km and 32.2 km) per week are going to give you optimum health benefits. But if those kinds of figures aren’t attainable, then don’t push yourself. Running might be great exercise, but so is a brisk walk, so alternate your runs with walks to get maximum benefit.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Walking Speed

Is it Better to Run Longer or Faster?

It all depends, once again, on your goals. Are you looking to beat others in a race, or lose weight over time? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each style of running.

Pros Cons
  • Great for competitive training
  • Better for building muscle and strength
  • Workout completed faster
  • More anaerobic training
  • After-burn effect for weight loss
  • Better chance of weight loss
  • Less risk of injury
  • A more complete workout
  • Building base and aerobic capacity
  • More aerobic training
  • Less muscle strengthening
  • Workouts last longer
  • It can be a boring way to exercise

Related: 20 Reasons To Run A Marathon

Is it Better to Run Distance or Time?

Ultimately, the best way to train as a runner is to mix both speed training and endurance training, but some will always prefer one style of running over the other. Let’s once again look at the pros and cons.

Related: 8 Tips To Help New Runners Run Faster Without Injury

Pros Cons
  • Effective for goal setting
  • A great way to increase motivation
  • moderate intensity
  • Helps expand mitochondria
  • Increases blood capillaries in legs
  • easily logged miles/kilometers
  • Increased risk of injury (too much too soon)
  • Restricted by type of terrain
  • Greater feeling of satisfaction when times are shortened
  • Better chance of recovery
  • Better for maintaining overall fitness
  • lower intensity
  • Not so good for tracking progress
  • Not effective for competitive running, i.e., marathons
  • might not run to potential (lazy runner)

What’s Important is That You Run!

The most important thing is that you get started with running, even if that’s a slow jog that you gradually improve over time. Before long you’ll really see the benefits!

Take a peek at why 80/20 running might be the best way you should train – for the rest of your life!

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YouTube video - 30 ways to make your runs less painful!

Coach Scott's Credentials:
  • Published Author
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach (Level 2)
  • RRCA Certified Youth Running Coach
  • NASM CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).
  • NASM CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach)
  • NASM WLS (Weight Loss Specialist)
  • ACE SFC (Stretching and Flexibility Coach)
  • ACE GFI (Group Fitness Instructor)
He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 22nd half marathon race. 

 To sign up for a FREE half marathon training schedule, log sheet, and pace predictor CLICK HERE.

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How Many Miles Should I Run a Week to Stay Healthy?

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