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To maintain a healthy lifestyle, experts recommend a combination of a healthy and balanced diet, alongside regular exercise and physical activity. Although it would be great for us to say that the human race is in the best shape it’s ever been in. Unfortunately we can’t, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Obesity levels are sky-high, life expectancies are on the decline, and more and more of us are suffering from weight-related illnesses than ever before. On the plus side, governments and health officials have finally realized that something has to change, which is why steps are being taken to encourage people to become more physically active, and they do appear to be working. In terms of physical exertion, running is one of the best forms of exercise you could ever wish for, but exactly how much should you be running to maintain good health? Well, let’s take a look.

How much distance should I cover for my first run?

If you’re new to running, it’s vital that you pace yourself and don’t try taking on too much, too soon. People seem to think that running is pure, and while running up and down the garden after the kids may look like a breeze, running for prolonged durations, either in the gym or outdoors, is a whole other matter entirely. When you first take up running seriously, for the first few sessions, it’s vital that you go at your own pace, and that you don’t over-exert yourself. You see, for your first few runs, you aren’t running to lose weight, or get fitter and healthier. No, the reason you are running is so that you can gauge just how fit you are and just how well your body will respond to the stress that you’re putting it under. Go at your own pace, and aim for 1 – 2 miles. Even if you feel you could do more, you should hold off for now and gradually increase your distance over the coming weeks.

How often should I be running each week?

Now, assuming that you’ve now got a few solid runs under your belt and that you have a rough idea of how much stamina and endurance you currently have, you can then look at running frequencies week by week. We can’t give you an exact figure because we don’t know anything about you. We don’t know your size, your fitness, your goals, your medical history, your social calendar, or anything else. What we can do, however, is give you a general guide that you could follow for optimal fitness from running. Assuming you’re a running newbie, we recommend 2 – 3 runs per week, aiming for 2 – 3 miles per run. Go at your own pace, but after every two weeks, try adding a mile, or running a little quicker. The increases will help you continue to make progress as you inevitably become fitter. After six weeks or so, try adding a running session in there each week, and aim to add 10 minutes to the duration of your run each week, which will let you gradually increase the distance you cover. The thing to remember is to listen to your body and to go at your own pace. By all means, try to continue to progress, but if you are in pain, struggling, or just not performing as well as you may have hoped, take your foot off of the gas slightly and back off a little.