Running is a high-impact aerobic exercise that healthy people should perform at most every other day, according to University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Running once a week can probably help you stay in shape if it is part of an overall fitness program that includes lower-impact or moderately strenuous activities.
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Engaging in as little as one hour a week of running or another type of aerobic exercise is beneficial, but three to four hours per week is optimum, according to UMMC. Most people need at least 30 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise like brisk walking, cycling or swimming nearly every day to help lower the risk of health problems such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, dementia and certain cancers. It's best to focus on calories burned each week instead of the hours spent running or working out in general if weight loss is your goal.
Mix It Up
Staying in shape doesn't have to be a monotonous chore. Mixing things up can help stave off the boredom of doing the same thing day in and day out. A combination of high-impact and lower-impact activities is best for overall fitness. For example, if Wednesday is your designated running day, go swimming on Tuesday and Thursday, take a dance class on Monday and go for a long bike ride on Saturday. Taking a day off after you've worked out three or four days in a row is a good idea, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
It's fine to break your workout into shorter time periods when you can't commit to a solid 30 minutes. Consider running 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes again in the evening, or take a 20-minute bike ride at lunchtime and a 20-minute swim later on. Don't forget about nonstructured exercise like parking farther from the door or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Start a running program or any type of aerobic training gradually if you have been inactive. You can begin to set new, more challenging goals as your fitness level increases. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if you are older or have health problems.