The Benefits of Running 4 Miles a Day

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Running is an excellent way to kick-start a daily fitness habit. It’s a simple way to begin exercising – it doesn’t require lessons, minimal gear is needed, and you get a good workout in a short amount of time.

We like four miles because it hits that sweet spot for many runners. It’s challenging enough to bring new runners out of their comfort zone but can be reached in a reasonable amount of time.

Think about the benefits you gain from this simple routine: a healthier heart, a happier mind, and more energy to enjoy your day. This isn’t just about running; it’s about improving your life.

We’re here to guide you through everything you need to know about the perks of running and how to start a four-mile-a-day habit. Let’s get started on this exciting journey!

How Far Is 4 Miles?

4 miles equals 6.4 kilometers. It’s the equivalent of 16 laps of an outdoor track or 32 laps of an indoor track.

Steps in 4 miles can vary from 6,000 to 10,000, depending on your height, cadence, and pace.

How Long Does It Take to Run 4 Miles?

This varies from person to person based on your fitness, age, and weight. Beginners who run a 12-minute mile will take around 48 minutes to complete a 4-mile run. Someone new to running but with a good fitness base could probably run a 9 or 10-minute mile – so about 36-40 minutes.

With consistent training, you can work your way up to running 4 miles in 30 to 35 minutes—around a 7 ½ to 8 ½-minute mile. Keep this in mind when trying to decide when to run during your day!

Benefits of Running 4 Miles a Day

Here are the benefits of running 4 miles a day that you can look forward to once you’ve built the habit. Run every day and watch your life transform!

1. Improved Cardiovascular Health

Running is excellent for cardiovascular health. As you run, your heart rate goes up, pumping blood around your body faster and harder. As a result, your blood vessels widen allowing more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to flow to the muscles.

When your heart beats faster and harder, it’s like training your heart, as you would a muscle. Over time, it becomes stronger and more efficient.

2. Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

Did you know that many chronic diseases occur due to a lack of oxygen? Running floods the brain and body with oxygen, reducing the chances of chronic diseases affecting you.

These include cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, stroke, and respiratory disorders. Another way running helps reduce these diseases is by keeping you at a healthy weight.

3. Stronger Bones and Toned Muscles

Running is a weight-bearing exercise, which means you are exercising while using your body weight against gravity. Compare this to swimming or cycling where the water and bike bear most of your weight.

Resistance helps strengthen bones and build muscle, which is especially important as we age. Continuing to run as we age can keep our bones and muscles healthy!

4. Weight Loss or Maintenance

Running is a great way to burn calories and lose weight! According to Harvard, you can burn anywhere from 240 to 671 calories in 30 minutes of running, depending on your current weight.

As long as you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Eating fewer calories also boosts your metabolism, helping you burn more calories passively throughout the day.

5. Improved Mental Health and Mood

Running releases endorphins, which help to relieve pain, improve mood, relieve anxiety, and reduce depression. All of these things, in turn, boost mood and mental health.

Plus, the constant flow of oxygen through the brain improves cognitive processes, making daily life easier, which helps to boost mental health too.

6. Increased Energy Levels

It might sound contradictory that expending energy on running leaves you with more energy, but it’s true! The stronger your heart and lungs become, the less fatigued you become doing the same amount of exercise. This translates into having energy to spare!

7. Improve Sleep Quality

As the endorphins released during a run relax the muscles, ease pain, and calm the mind, the body is in a better position to sleep soundly. Sleep is when healing happens in both the body and the brain.

8. Reduced Stress Levels

When you run, those endorphins reduce cortisol levels and increase happy hormones, lowering your stress levels and boosting your feelings of well-being and happiness. Plus, the confidence from losing weight and feeling great adds to lower stress levels.

9. Stronger Immune System

Consistent running can stimulate the production of white blood cells, the immune system’s soldiers. More soldiers equals more of an army to fight infection, keeping you healthier for longer.

10. Increased Longevity

A stronger heart, tougher lungs, a better immune system, and reduced stress levels all add up. You can expect to live longer as long as the rest of your habits complement your running.

How to Start Running 4 Miles a Day

Ready to start running 4 miles a day? Here’s how to build that habit as fast as possible.

Establish a Baseline

Figure out what distance you’re comfortable running right now. This will be the starting point for working towards running 4 miles a day.

Whether you can only run half a mile or you’re ready to run 4 miles, figure this out upfront so you know where you need to go from here.

Use the Run-Walk Method

If you’re not running 4 miles yet, start with the run-walk method. Walk for a set time—for example, 2 minutes—and then run for a shorter period, like 30 seconds.

Once the run periods start to feel easier, you can increase them by 10 to 15 seconds. As a beginner, you should walk more than run to allow your body to build up stamina and endurance.

As your fitness improves, you can start doing longer running intervals, like 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. This will help you build up your endurance with less chance of overtraining.

As your endurance improves, you can keep increasing the run segments and decreasing the walking segments. Eventually, you’ll be able to run the entire way!

Break Down the 4 Miles

If 4 miles seems intimidating, break it into smaller, more manageable chunks. You can start with eight ½-mile sections, alternating between running and walking each one. Then, increase it to four 1-mile sections and eventually two 2-mile sections.

Pacing

Speed is not the goal when you’re working towards running 4 miles a day. You’re working on building endurance, so you want to run at a comfortable pace at which you can comfortably hold a conversation without getting out of breath.

Once you can comfortably run 4 miles, then go ahead and start trying to get get faster.

Strength and Cross-Training

Strength training can help build muscle and strength in your legs, helping you run further and longer before tiring. Train your whole body, but focus on the legs and core.

If you’re aiming to run 4 miles every day and do strength training as well, you might not be able to find time to cross-train. However, if you need to take a break from running, consider doing a lower-impact form of cross-training on your off days.

Nutrition and Hydration

If you plan on running 4 miles a day, you must fuel yourself properly. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated before, during, and after your daily run.

Staying Motivated: Tips for Consistent 4-Mile Daily Runs

Doing anything daily is a challenge! But running 4 miles a day is a big goal and it can be easy to lose motivation. Here are some tried-and-true tips for staying motivated.

Set Clear Goals

Setting a specific goal can help you have something to work towards. There’s no need to run 4 miles a day for no reason. Even if you have a more general goal, like “getting fit” or “being healthier,” we recommend setting a specific running-related goal.

You might choose a specific 5k race to enter and work towards. Or, if you don’t want to run a race, you can work towards achieving a specific time for your 4-mile runs.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress can be motivating as you see yourself moving closer and closer to your goal. Use a running app or if you prefer old-school style, a running journal.

Create a Routine

It’s a good idea to create a regular running routine to get your body and mind into the habit of running every day.

Pick a time of day that works well for you. If you’re an early bird, run before the day starts, or wait until after work if that works better for you.

Make a concerted effort to stick to this routine for at least a month. By that point, you should be well in a habit and it should be easier to do it as a normal part of your every day.

Vary Your Routes

Boredom can be demotivating. Counter it by varying your route so you don’t go on the same run every day.

Exploring new routes, trails, paths, parks, and walking sites can keep things fresh and exciting and inject some anticipation into each new walk.

Run with a Group or a Friend

Running with someone else helps to keep you accountable. But not just that, it’s also a way to catch up with a friend or family member, compare times, encourage each other, and share new milestones.

Listen to Music, Podcasts, or Audiobooks

If you prefer to run alone, you can listen to a podcast, audiobook, or even music. For your own safety, make sure you remain aware of what’s going on around you. We recommend bone-conduction earphones for this purpose.

Races or Virtual Challenges

If you feel comfortable, you can sign up for a race to work towards. If you don’t like that idea, you can always do a virtual race! It’s a much lower-pressure situation and can be an excellent goal to work towards.

Reward Yourself

Create a rewards system for each time you reach a milestone. This can be small—like watching an episode of your favorite TV show or buying yourself a chocolate—or something bigger, like buying a new pair of running shoes when you reach a goal.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.