It’s one of your goals to begin getting more exercise, and you like the idea of running quite a lot. That said, you just don’t have the time. Maybe you could squeeze in a 30-minute run, but is that even long enough to reap any of the benefits of running?
Indeed, running for 30 minutes can be quite beneficial in the following ways:
- Mood improvements even if you have major depressive disorder
- May burn upwards of 500 calories per run (depending on your weight)
- Insulin sensitivity is better
- Blood pressure is more regulated
- Metabolism may go up
Really, all those things can happen if you run for just 30 minutes? Yes, and science says so. Ahead, we’ll talk more about what running for 30 minutes can do for you. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll realize that even if you have only a bit of time to run, it’s better to do it than not to!
You’ll Experience These Health Perks After Running for Only 30 Minutes
Better Mood, Even if You Have Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder or clinical depression can lead to symptoms such as disinterest in hobbies and activities, lack of energy, no appetite or eating too much, sharp decreases in self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health or NIH, in 2017, up to 17.3 million United States adults had experienced one or more major depressive episodes. If you’re among them, then running is especially a great idea.
A 2005 report from the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise published promising findings on what running can do for those with major depressive disorder. Up to 40 participants, 25 of them female and 15 of them male and all with major depressive disorder exercised for periods of 30 minutes and then rested for 30 more minutes.
The researchers then compared the condition of the participants’ mood right before they exercised, five minutes into exercise, 30 minutes into exercise, and an hour after they finished. What the researchers discovered was that the participants had higher vigor and better wellbeing from the 30-minute burst of exercise.
Another mood benefit comes courtesy of your endocannabinoid system. Are you familiar with the endocannabinoid system? It’s a biological system in all of us where our levels of endocannabinoids are regulated.
What is an endocannabinoid, you’re asking? It’s a type of neurotransmitter that can attach to your cannabinoid receptors. These receptors then travel through your peripheral and central nervous systems.
Different endocannabinoid receptors manage various parts of the body, including your bones, immune system, muscles, colon, reproductive organs, liver, pancreas, vascular system, spleen, lungs, and brain.
This British Journal of Sports Medicine report from 2004 mentions that exercise can increase your endocannabinoid serum concentration, which means enhancing the health of your entire body. The endocannabinoid system is also believed to contribute to runner’s high.
A runner’s high is the release of endorphins that can produce happy, contented feelings immediately after running. Some athletes experience runner’s high semi-regularly, others rarely, and more not at all. If you’re one of those runners who does get to enjoy a runner’s high, it too will elevate your mood.
Significant Calorie Burning
We recently published a post about how running can help you lose weight. If you missed that article, we recommend you go back and read it.
In that post, we highlighted a report from the American Council on Exercise that states how many calories you can burn when running. Your calorie-burning capabilities do vary depending on how much you weigh, with someone who weighs more generally torching a greater number of calories than someone who’s under 140 pounds.
Let’s use some real numbers so you can see what we mean. According to that American Council on Exercise data, here’s how many calories you burn when running per your weight:
- 120 pounds – 11.4 calories a minute
- 140 pounds – 13.2 calories a minute
- 160 pounds – 15.1 calories a minute
- 180 pounds – 17.0 calories a minute
Then it’s all about doing the math. For a 30-minute run, we can deduce that a 120-pound person burns 342 calories, a 140-pound person burns 396 calories, a 160-pound person burns 453 calories, and a 180-pound person burns 510 calories.
By the way, in case you’re curious, the American Council on Exercise also examined the calorie-burning potential for a wealth of other physical activities. These include weight training, walking, tennis, swimming, skiing, skating, jogging, hiking, golfing, dancing, cycling, bowling, and playing basketball. None of these activities burned more calories per minute than running.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that determines how high your blood sugar is at any point. Your body can develop insulin resistance, which means the regular levels of insulin aren’t enough to elicit a response in the body. This can lead to more glucose in the blood, elevating your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Many factors influence your insulin sensitivity. These include how much sleep you get, if you smoke, if you exercise, and your weight, especially how much belly fat you have. Through exercises such as running, you can reduce your blood sugar levels and ward off type 2 diabetes and other health complications.
How? According to the American Diabetes Association, when muscle contraction occurs as you exercise, the glucose in your body gets used by cells as an energy source. This reduces your glucose levels. You’re also better managing your insulin sensitivity.
Regulated Blood Pressure
The CDC states that about 45 percent of US residents have hypertension, which is 108 million adults in all. Few of them, about 24 percent, are managing their blood pressure well. This is bad news, as the CDC also notes that your stroke and heart disease risk go up if you have high blood pressure. No other health conditions kill more Americans than stroke or heart disease.
In 2017, Medicine (Baltimore) published a report examining whether aerobic exercise could affect blood pressure levels in people with hypertension. The study compiled the results of more than a dozen other pieces of research with more than 800 samples in all.
The researchers looked at the diastolic blood pressure and systolic blood pressure of the participants across the studies. If you need a refresher, your diastolic blood pressure is the bottom of the two numbers. It tells you how much arterial pressure exists between your heartbeats. Your systolic blood pressure, which is the top number, is arterial pressure when your heart is beating.
So what did the compilation of studies find? Here was their conclusion: “Aerobic exercise may be a potential nonpharmacological treatment for blood pressure improvement in essential hypertensive patients.”
Whether you’re at risk of high blood pressure, you’ve already been diagnosed with hypertension, or you’re trying to avoid such a diagnosis, running is a good antidote. Even if you run for 30 minutes?
That’s what health resource Providence Health Plan says. According to them, your blood pressure can see a drop of as much as 10 points if you go on brisk walks for 30 minutes five days every week. Imagine then what running can do!
Everyone wants a higher metabolism, as that makes it easier for your body to process the calories you’re consuming. Running for 30 minutes alone is enough to get your metabolism rarin’ to go, but for longer-term metabolism benefits, you’d need to be at it for 45 minutes. Fortunately, this isn’t that much more time to dedicate to a run.
This 2011 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise report found that adding a bit of extra time to your run can cause you to burn more calories for a significantly long period after you’re done. Just how long are we talking here? According to the study, your metabolism could stay high for up to 14 hours post-run!
Tips for Making Running a Regular Part of Your Lifestyle
Okay, you’re convinced. You’ve started to make the time for running, but it’s hard. Some days you forget to run and on others, you lack the time. How do you incorporate running into your lifestyle as a more permanent addition? Here are some suggestions.
Schedule a Day and Time for Running
You never miss happy hour after work every Thursday or girls’ night on Fridays because they’re parts of your schedule, right? Make running more ingrained in your schedule too by selecting a day of the week and an hourlong period that you have available. Sure, you won’t run all 60 minutes, but this block accommodates for you getting ready, driving to the running trail, and then going back home.
Maybe you run every Tuesday after work or you wake up early on Thursdays and get it out of the way then. You could even run on the weekend. The more you start running on that certain day and time, the more natural it will feel.
Don’t Overbook Yourself
When you have a busy week ahead and someone tries to add another social obligation to your plate, something has to go. It might seem easiest to skip the run. Sometimes, that might be what you have to do, and that’s okay. You’re not perfect, so it could take some time to make running a true part of your routine.
Just make sure you’re not sacrificing running whenever your schedule gets a bit busy. It’s okay to miss happy hour one week so you can go for a run instead. Your health is certainly better off for it!
Set Realistic Goals
You only have 30 minutes to work with, remember that. The average distance you can expect to cover in that time as a beginner is two miles. As you get better and better at running, you might be able to do three miles in 30 minutes, maybe even four.
When you first start running though, don’t set exceedingly high expectations for yourself. You’ll fail to meet your own standards, and that will make you want to quit running.
Be realistic. Plan to only run a mile in 30 minutes. This way, if you surpass your goal (which you more than likely will), you’ll feel extra good about yourself. Even as you become a more experienced runner, you still want to set goals that are achievable based on your skills and the available time you have to run.
Reward Yourself When You Succeed
You just smashed through your running goal for the week. This calls for a small celebration. What the reward is can be up to you. It’s okay sometimes if it’s food, but rewards can be all sorts of things. Perhaps you treat yourself to a binge-watching session of your favorite show or you finally buy that item you’ve had your eye on.
At some point, you might even progress to running in races. When you cross that finish line for the first time, running will have been a reward in and of itself.
The good feelings that you associate with running will make you want to run more, even if you don’t necessarily get a runner’s high.
Be Ready to Go
Sometimes the thought of all the effort you have to put into getting ready for a run can make you not want to go, especially if you’ve had a long day. Give yourself fewer excuses by setting out everything you need for your run ahead of time. Lay out your clothes, pack your snacks, put gear in your bag, and find your running shoes. This way, all you have to do is put everything on and go so you can get to the fun part: running.
You don’t have to run for hours to benefit your health. In only 30 minutes, running can improve your mood, control your blood pressure, regulate your insulin, and burn hundreds of calories. By running for 45 minutes, you might boost your metabolism for upwards of 14 hours after your run.
We recommend you start small with realistic goals. Before you know it, you’ll want to run for longer than 30 minutes because you’ll love all the perks of running!