Most people know that more exercise, like running, in their routine can be beneficial. How about running 5 miles a day, is it a good idea?
Running 5 miles, 8.05 km, may be popular due to the intuitive attractiveness of the number 5 but that doesn’t mean this is the best distance for your goals with running.
Even if your body is physically capable of it, running 5 miles every day is not the best idea for preparing yourself to run a fast race. If your goal with exercising is optimal health you generally want to lift heavy weights at least twice a week. Running a lot on these days is often not a great idea.
That being said, even if it isn’t the number 1 routine for athletic performance or physical health, getting to running 5 miles a day and sticking to it can be a fun goal in itself. Do keep the physical limits of your body in mind.
Is it safe to run 5 miles a day?
The first thing you want to consider before implementing a workout routine is how much physical activity your body can currently handle. For the average person in the population, running 5 miles a day is likely not recommended.
Consistency is a big part of working out. The effectiveness of your workout plan will go down drastically if you can’t run for 2 weeks every month because of injuries.
Here are a few important factors to consider to find out if 5 miles a day would be within your physical capabilities.
How active are you currently?
Running 5 miles a day is not a workout routine many people are able to start right away. It’s possible that your last serious workout session was a few months or years ago. This can cause a few problems.
Your muscles adapt to the things you put them through. If you work them out a lot they will generally become stronger. If you don’t use them they will generally become weaker.
If you start (to try) running 5 miles a day with muscles that are not used to it the risk of an injury will be relatively high.
Your heart is a muscle too. In the best worst case you will run out of breath before you can finish the 5 miles. In the worst case, you overwork your heart.
On top of that your muscles will initially need more recovery time. You may need some rest days instead of being able to run 5 miles every single day.
How much do you weigh?
Running is a high-impact workout. That means that this exercise can be rough on body parts like ankles, knees, and back.
If you carry around a lot of extra weight, both from muscle and (more often) fat, these shocks will be even harder.
In a situation like that, walking, the elliptical trainer, swimming, or other alternatives to running may be better workout choices to start with to avoid injuries.
Are you injury sensitive?
Even if you are physically fit, running 5 miles every day may not be a good idea simply because you are injury-sensitive in the wrong places. Some people are injury sensitive in general, others just in a specific area that running engages a lot.
Some people who are at a healthy weight, in great shape, use a good pair of running shoes, eat very healthy can’t run every day because of sensitive shins. Doing so would cause injuries like shin splints.
It’s possible that your body is able to deal with running twice a week but that you need to do lower-impact exercises on the other days.
Whether or not running 5 miles a day is safe is very hard to predict since it is so different from person to person.
For experienced runners who are lean and not injury sensitive, running 5 miles a day is likely safe. For many other types of individuals running 5 miles a day is not safe.
The message here is rather safe than sorry. If you’re not sure it may be smart to start out at lower distances and see how that goes. If any body parts start to hurt that may be a sign that you need more rest in between your runs.
What is your goal with running?
The next question you need to ask yourself is what goal you are aiming for with running 5 miles a day. More running, and more working out in general, is not always better.
Let’s say you want to be able to run as fast as possible in your next 5k race. The best training schedule for that is unlikely to be running the same distance every day.
Another popular reason many people start to, and stick to, running is to lose weight. Even if your body can run with the extra pounds without getting injured you likely want to have some weight lifting days too.
If your goal with exercising is optimal health and longevity running 5 miles a day is likely not the best choice either. Again, you preferably want to implement some weight lifting days too (1).
Despite these things, being able to run 5 miles a day and sticking to it every day can be a fun goal in itself even if it’s not the best for other purposes.
What is a good time for a 5-mile run?
A 2015 report from Strava, a running and cycling tracking app, calculated running speed averages from over 14 million runs (2).
In their data men had an average pace of 9:03 per mile and an average running distance of 5.1 miles.
Women had an average pace of 10:21 per mile and an average running distance of 4.4 miles.
Another source that looked at the race results of over 10000 5k race results found slightly slower averages, especially for people at higher ages (3).
The average mile time of people who take the time of their day to record their runs on an app may not be the best representative for the average person. Statistics aside, this does give a better idea of a good time for a 5-mile run.
Will running 5 miles a day help you lose weight?
Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.
One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Running 5 miles a day can help with weight loss since doing a workout like it generally requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities.
Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
How many calories does running 5 miles burn?
The average person will burn 472-812 calories when running 5 miles.
Below you can find a table with more precise estimations for individuals of different weights running at different speeds based on MET values. The numbers may seem counterintuitive but remember that the faster you run the less time you spend running.
Keep in mind that these are estimations. The calculation method doesn’t take into account certain factors that do influence calories burned with running. Also keep in mind that these are rounded numbers.
To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (4).
|Running (5 mph/8.1 kmh)||Running (6 mph/9.7 kmh)||Running (7 mph/11.3 kmh)|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||472 calories||492 calories||486 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||586 calories||610 calories||601 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||700 calories||728 calories||719 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||812 calories||847 calories||834 calories|
Doing a workout at high intensity can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise. This extra energy burning is hard to put into exact numbers.
The number of calories you can burn with running is relatively high compared to most other workouts. Running is generally one of the best exercises for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
Other benefits of running 5 miles a day
If your body can deal with it, running 5 miles a day can transform your body for the better. Some benefits of running you can expect include:
- Improved mood
- Improved cognitive function
- Improved bone density
- Lower LDL
- Improved sleep
- Improved coordination
You can also expect similar benefits from other types of exercise to varying degrees. So if for example your knees can’t handle running every day you can switch it up with other workouts.
Should you run 5 miles a day?
For most goals implementing some days without running and strength training days is helpful. So in general running 5 miles a day is likely not the fastest way towards your goals.
At the time of writing the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends the following exercise guidelines to adults (1):
- Moving more and sitting less throughout the day
- At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. Preferably spread throughout the week.
- You can gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
That being said working towards running 5 miles a day and sticking to it can be a fun goal in itself. If this is your objective you can start off with smaller distances with rest days and build up from there.
If you feel pain it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, or a less intense workout schedule.