When You Run A Mile Every Day, This Is What Happens To Your Body

Unlike other habits, running isn’t often practiced in moderation. Many runners hit the pavement or trail on a daily basis and reap the many benefits associated with frequent cardio exercise, like promoting a healthy blood flow to your brain (which decreases the risk of stroke), improving blood sugar control, and, of course, helping your lungs operate efficiently (per the Cleveland Clinic). And, as an added bonus, even simply running a mile every day can help you meet the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.

While they are both excellent forms of cardio, there are different health benefits and risks associated with running versus walking. Compared to walking, running burns more calories and burns fat more quickly. However, for those fairly early on in their fitness journey, or who are currently recovering from previous injuries, running might not be the safer option. Since running puts more stress on the muscles, there is the potential that new runners could experience leg, hamstring, glute, and core injuries (via Women’s Health).

So, for those weighing their cardio options, we have uncovered what exactly happens to your body when you regularly run, including those who opt to run a mile every day.

Running every day can build a stronger heart and lungs

According to cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Alphonse DeLucia, running every day can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels — two changes that can benefit the function of your heart. “Running 30 minutes a few times per week helps reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol, and increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the ‘good’ type of cholesterol,” DeLucia told Bronson Health. Running on a daily basis can also strengthen the heart muscle by giving it a “workout.” Most importantly, though, running can reduce your risk of heart disease by supporting a healthy blood flow and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels (via Bronson Health).

Hitting the pavement on a daily basis also has the potential to improve the functioning of your lungs, since running teaches your lungs how to deliver more oxygen to the bloodstream in an efficient manner. After a while, running every day — say, a mile a day — can help your lungs rid the body of harmful carbon dioxide more efficiently. “Your lungs become more efficient at getting more oxygen to your muscles not only by better processing the amount you take in during each breath, but also by increasing your respiration rate — that’s why you breathe quicker when you run,” Rebecca Christenson, sports physiotherapist at Pure Sports Medicine, told Runner’s World.

Your muscles will get stronger — but only when running is done in moderation

Given the fact that running requires the participation of the entire lower body, back, and core, it makes sense that many muscles in your body would benefit from this specific cardio exercise. Each time you run, you are engaging muscles in your lower body like the gluteals, hamstrings, foot and hip flexors, and quadriceps. Core and back muscles also help you to maintain balance and posture, working in combination to sustain the power exerted by your lower body muscles (via Healthline).

However, when not practiced in moderation, running can actually put unwanted stress on these muscles if they do not get a break. Health experts recommend only running up to four times a week in order to ensure that your muscles have time to recover after strenuous activity (so e.g., running a mile every other day). Cross-training, like lifting weights and yoga, is also recommended to simultaneously challenge your muscles and give them a much-needed break from the repetitive action of running. Running every day can increase the risk of straining and pulling muscles in the lower body (per Livestrong).

Hitting the trails every day can improve your mood

Contrary to popular belief, most runners do not actually experience a “runner’s high.” Instead, that post-run euphoria can actually be chalked up to the body’s production of endocannabinoids, a biochemical substance that is similar to cannabis but produced naturally by the body after vigorous physical activity (via John Hopkins Medicine).

Long after the run, the brain benefits from other changes that occur in the body upon implementing a daily running routine (one done in moderation). Runners who hit the pavement on a regular basis will likely also benefit from the growth of new blood vessels and brain cells prompted by exercise that can lead to an improvement in brain performance and prevent cognitive decline. Additionally, regular exercise can work wonders in regulating the brain’s response to stress, which, in turn, has the potential to improve your day-to-day mood.

“Exercise has a dramatic anti-depressive effect,” said David Linden, Ph.D. and professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In a post for JHM, Dr. Linden explained that exercise “blunts the brain’s response to physical and emotional stress.” Other brain-related benefits of running include improved memory, ability to focus, and multitasking capabilities.

Running every day could cause your skin to suffer

While running every day can increase the blood flow to your skin, causing it to appear more youthful, in large part, running does your skin no favors. In fact, hitting the trail every day, if it’s outdoors, can expose your skin to harmful UV rays that speed up the aging process of exposed skin. So, if you’re going to be running outside every day, be sure to slather on sunscreen to protect your skin from advanced aging (per Women’s Running).

“Runner’s face,” in which the skin sags from a rigorous running routine, is another adverse effect of a daily running regimen. While many previously believed that runner’s face was caused by constant pavement pounding, experts now believe that running (and any repetitive cardio in general) can cause more free-radical damage, which actually has the ability to damage the skin’s collagen and elastin — two components of the skin that are key to maintaining a youthful glow. This affliction can be avoided by only engaging in strenuous physical activity in moderation (such as running a mile every other day) (via Shape).

While the increased blood flow produced during a run can benefit those with trouble-free skin, existing skin conditions like rosacea and miliaria (“sweat rash”) can get worse with a daily running routine. Apart from using medical treatments to alleviate these skin issues, simply washing your face with ice-cold water each morning might help keep your running routine from exacerbating any pre-existing skin conditions (per Shape).

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