People who are hoping to get fit often have a question: “Is running bad for you?”
In fact, if you Google “top questions about fitness,” that’s one of the Top 18.
The short version: Running isn’t bad for you.
But it isn’t the solution to every fitness problem, and it isn’t the best option for some people. Finally, it is possible to run too much if you have certain goals.
Running Is Great!
Running is a wonderful activity because it doesn’t require a lot of special equipment or even access to a gym. You can just throw on some runners and hit the sidewalk or paths in any park. Or you can use a treadmill in a garage or basement if you prefer.
Running is a fantastic exercise for training your cardiovascular system. You’ll also strengthen muscles and bones to some degree. In addition, running provides many of the “extra” benefits of general movement: improved mood, better sleep, increased self-confidence and so on.
Many people love to get out and run for any distance, and some like it so much that they join clubs or start training for long races and even marathons.
So why do some people think running is bad?
Well, any activity comes with some risk. We believe that the risks of fitness activities are very small—especially when compared to the many significant health risks of inactivity.
Beyond that, some runners who put in a lot of miles will get “overuse injuries,” and some people have joints that just aren’t happy when a person is pounding the pavement with less-than-perfect technique. Finally, high-volume running can cause some muscle loss if a person avoids strength training or doesn’t eat well.
But that doesn’t mean running is bad.
Running: One Element of Fitness
Running is fantastic for cardiovascular training, but you can get many of the benefits of running without putting in 50 miles a week.
And running isn’t the best option for improving strength, power, flexibility and other elements of fitness.
If your goals include improving general fitness, losing weight and adding muscle, we’d recommend a program that balances cardiovascular training with strength training (and great nutrition).
Consider this: A well-rounded program might include some workouts in which running is the only movement. But those sessions would be rare compared to sessions that combine other elements of fitness to get the desired result.
For example, someone who wants to lose weight and gain strength wouldn’t need to run 10 km very often, if at all. A better workout might involve barbell deadlifts, dumbbell presses and shorter runs of 100 or 200 m.
In many cases, running can be subbed out for other movements that improve cardiovascular fitness, too. Swimming, cycling, rowing and paddling are great options, and they all reduce impact on the joints, which is important for some people.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t run or that “running is bad.” You’d just be wise to consult a coach to determine if running is the right activity to help you reach your personal goals. If it is, a coach can help you figure out how far, how fast and how often you need to run. And if it’s not the perfect movement to help you reach your goals, the coach can point you to the right activities.
The best plan? Talk to a coach, lay out your goals and share your preferences for fitness activities, then have the coach create a specific plan that gets you fired up to train and produces the results you want.
If you simply enjoy running and don’t experience any muscle or joint pain, jog whenever you want. Running is a great way to stay active. It isn’t bad for you. Just remember that it’s only one aspect of fitness.
And if you hate running, don’t worry: There are many other ways to improve fitness without jogging or sprinting. We know all of them and would be happy to make suggestions.
If you’d like to talk to us about a fitness plan, click here to book a free consultation.