Run a mile every week.
A mile is just too far to sprint, yet too short to jog. To do this effectively, you will have to run fast, but in a conservative manner…
There are many advantages to running, and when you’re only covering a mile there are very little disadvantages; and anyone can do it regardless of training routine (which may even be non-existent for some). Even if you are focused on gaining weight, a mile is going to have no impact on your gains, and will help tone you up. You don’t really need a proper pair of running trainers, because a mile is so short there is no opportunity to damage yourself, and you could even try running a mile barefoot to really connect with nature and experience some true bare-feet running. Running a mile is also really quick, and shouldn’t take most people much more than 10mins to do. You could almost do it while you wait for the kettle to boil (now that’s a challenge!).
It is also very easy to measure progress when running a mile, and allows you to engage in some healthy competition with friends/ family – who can run the fastest mile/ who has cut the most time off their mile etc. A mile can easily be mapped out on Google Maps between land marks and timed on a watch/ phone. Even better, if you have a smart phone you can use an free app like Endomondo to track your run, which uses GPS to measure distance and speed (it also tells you how many times around the world you have run in total!). Progress is quick to see, and it does feel great! Aside from being fun, there are some real advantages to this:
Physical fitness such as running a mile has been directly linked to heart health, and middle aged men who can run an 8min mile had a 10% lifetime risk of developing heart disease in their lifetime, where as middle aged men who ran a mile in 10mins had a 30% risk 1. This shows that just by getting better at running, you can significantly improve your heart health.
Running a mile isn’t just about trying to improve your muscle performance and cardiovascular strength though – it is also very important for mental health. Running (and other forms of exercise) are known to cause a release of endorphins in the brain, which helps improve mood2 and reduces stress3.
So running is fun, great for your body/ mind and quick to do. If you are able to already run a mile in 8 mins or less – fantastic! If not, perhaps this should be a good target for you to try and achieve. If it is taking you quite a lot more than 10 mins to complete a mile, its a strong sign of a weak cardiovascular system, and it probably means you should (gently) do some more exercise.
Let us know your 1mile records and progress in the comments below!
1. Jarett D. Berry. (2011). Lifetime Risks for Cardiovascular Disease Mortality by Cardiorespiratory Fitness Levels Measured at Ages 45, 55, and 65 Years in Men. JACC. 57 (15), 1604-1610.
2. Morris M, Salmon P. (1994). Qualitative and quantitative effects of running on mood. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 34 (3), 284-291.
3. Peter Salmon. (2001). Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: A unifying theory. Clinical Psychology Review. 21 (1), 33-61.