A Little Running Helps You Go the Distance

short runs to stay fit without gym equipment

Short runs turn everything you ever heard about running upside down. It turns out that you don’t have to do marathons to reap huge benefits from running. Short runs go the distance, too.

What Are “Short Runs”?

Short runs can encompass a number of running styles, but the common thread is that short runs can be done often, don’t take up a lot of time, and are great for many fitness levels.

A short run can be as brief as a few minutes up to a few hours total per week. Characteristics of these short runs can include a more leisurely pace (less than six miles per hour) or quick bursts of running (such as you might do as part of a high-intensity interval training regimen), jogging for enjoyment, or several very short runs throughout the day.

And short runs, when compared to long-distance running and marathons, keep up just fine in the benefits department.

Benefits of Running—Yes, Even Short Runs

Studies show the benefits of running are quite vast, and they even extend to short runs. While it might not seem like much, even a short run can provide huge health benefits, such as:

  • Easing anxiety and depression—exercise is often prescribed for these conditions, but running is leaps and bounds ahead of the game. Studies show that running can help you improve your outlook by boosting both your mood and your self-image.
  • Lower likelihood of injury—because you’re not pounding the pavement incessantly, your chances of developing overuse injuries are drastically reduced. Yes, any type of running still means you will be taking a bit of a beating as you pound the pavement, but the shorter and less often you run, the less your risk of long-term injury.
  • More calories burned and weight lost (if that’s your goal)—if you’re deciding between walking and running, running will burn a lot more calories, and faster. Even a slow jog can burn up to two times more calories than walking for the same period of time. So, if you’re short on time, a brief run might be the perfect fitness fit for you.
  • Improved cardiovascular shape—your cardiovascular fitness will improve greatly with short runs. Not only will you burn lots of calories and tone up your legs as you gain fresh muscle mass, but you’ll also increase your lung capacity, too, while strengthening the ticker.
  • Blasting through stress and enhancing your mental clarity—a little goes a long way. Recent research shows that runs can help you combat the effects of relentless stress. It even helps your hippocampus deal with chronic pressure situations, which makes room for improved memory and learning.
  • Getting stronger, faster, better—since short runs can focus on fast-twitch muscles, you’ll get better at sprinting and quicker overall. And short runs release what are known as “exerkines,” which are health-benefiting molecules released when you exercise. They play positive roles in helping reduce inflammation, strengthen your immune system, and improve your neurological health.

Cardio Command

How to Get Into Running

Running may seem daunting to those who do not consider themselves “runners.” But, short runs are easy to get into and don’t take a lot of time out of your schedule. Consider these simple tips:

  • Get the right shoes—this is imperative as you will need running shoes that are supportive and correct for your type of gait. Not only will this make running more pleasurable, but it will help you avoid injury as well.
  • Consistency—this is a key component if you want to get the maximum health benefits of short runs. Studies show you can greatly improve your longevity and health markers across the board by sticking with a short-run plan on a regular basis.
  • Running apps—for those who would like a gentle foray into longer runs, try a running program that eases you into becoming more of a runner. For those “non-runners” out there, this type of program can help you learn to love running as you get a little bit stronger and better conditioned with each session. They work by having you alternate between ultra-short runs (1 – 2 minutes) with short “rest periods” of walking. With each short-run workout, you ramp up your running time by a small amount.

Apps like Couch25K are fantastic starting points if you decide to make running, in general, and even longer runs, a regular part of your life.

So, if you want to live longer, short-circuit age-related diseases, lose weight, and tone up, it’s easier than you think. Throw a few short runs into your workout program and enjoy the major benefits without a lot of the downsides of long runs.