Think you don’t have time to train today? Think again. Research shows that just 30 minutes of running can have huge benefits on your short-term and long-term health. Here are the top 7 reasons to lace up your shoes and squeeze in that run today.
1. Burn Fat
Studies across the board show that running for just 15-30 minutes will kick-start your metabolism and burn some serious fat, both during and after the exercise itself. That’s because during a shorter run, your body will use fat as its primary power source, rather than relying on the carbohydrates that play a bigger role as exercise intensity increases.
You’ll also keep burning fat long after your run. After intense physical activity, your body goes into EPOC mode (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), where it uses the energy from fat and carbohydrates to restore itself to its pre-exercise state. EPOC can last from 15 minutes to a whopping 48 hours; so that 30 minute run could keep you burning fat for 2 whole days.
2. Catch a Runner’s High
Simply put, running makes you feel good – even if you can’t do it for that long. Just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise releases a large amount of the mood-boosting endorphins responsible for “runner’s high,” so a quick lunchtime run can make you feel just as good as a longer one. The benefits aren’t just in the moment, either; regular running has countless long-term effects on your mental health, from decreased stress and anxiety to improved energy levels. If you don’t trust the research, just try out short, regular runs for a month and see the effects yourself.
3. Recover Quickly
If you keep your run to 30 minutes, you’re very unlikely to overstretch or overuse your muscles. That means a much lower risk of injury. As long as you take the usual stretching and cool-down measures to recover properly, your body will feel readier and more refreshed when it comes to your next long run. Even if you usually go for longer distances, factoring in the occasional 30 minute run as part of your regular exercise routine can be much better for your body in the long term.
4. Burn Those Calories
One 30 minute run is guaranteed to burn between 200-500 calories. That’s a fantastic step forwards to your weight loss goal. Or a guilt-free guilty pleasure that day. Or splitting the bottle instead of having a glass. Whatever your goals and priorities are, calorie wiggle-room is always good news.
5. Sleep Like a… Runner
When you start running regularly for 30 minutes, you’ll see your sleep improve significantly. And even if you’re used to more strenuous exercise, a shorter run will still give you better sleep than no running at all.
That’s true for both quality and quantity: you’ll both fall asleep faster and spend more time in those deep sleep stages which are crucial for physical recovery. There’s a caveat to this though: try not to schedule your run before bedtime. All those feel-good endorphins will also make you feel alert and awake, so you may struggle to get to sleep in the first place.
6. Look Better, Feel Stronger
If you can run 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes, the internal health benefits will very quickly start to show on the surface, too. You’ll soon see effects like more defined muscles, pounds off the scale, and clearer, healthier skin. Your muscles will be stronger so you can get more out of those gym sessions, and your improved cardio fitness will allow you to try things you perhaps couldn’t before. And that means more confidence, too.
7. …And Live Longer?
It’s a big claim, but the studies show it’s true. The fitness level you achieve from regular, shorter runs can add years to your life expectancy. There are a ton of reasons for this: improved circulation, lower blood pressure, a better balance of good and bad cholesterol, lower stress hormones. Your quality of life will also be higher; a basic level of fitness has been linked consistently to better brain and memory function in later years.