All the Benefits You’ll Gain from Running Just 10 Minutes a Day

Here’s how even just a quick, casual jog can boost your mental and physical health.


As a runner, you might feel like you don’t have to add activity breaks throughout the day because you went for a run in the morning anyway, right? Well, the truth is a bit more granular. Studies suggest that taking 10-minute runs benefits everyone — no matter what pace you go — including those who are sedentary and those who are active.

Research shows that running even five to 10 minutes per day at slow speeds reduces all-cause mortality, as well as death from cardiovascular disease,” says Dr Lindsay Ludlow, an exercise physiologist and runner based in Michigan.

In fact, a number of studies, including the Copenhagen City Heart Study which followed more than 5,000 people, demonstrate that people who run at an easy to moderate pace between one and three hours every week live longer than both those who are sedentary and those who run faster and more frequently.

“If you’re training for a race and already running far more than 10 minutes on some days, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take those 10-minute easy run breaks,” Louise Valentine, author of The Art of Breaking Through tells Runner’s World. “We often see the ‘active couch potato’ complex, which means you work out regularly, but when you’re not working out, you have long periods of inactivity. You need those movement breaks for your health.”

Why All Runners Benefit from Jogging for 10 Minutes a Day
The benefits of activity throughout the day, especially after meals and while working at a sedentary job, stand out from say, training for a marathon. That’s because the goals of a training plan — to get faster or run a specific distance — are not the same as daily fitness and activity goals. These 10-minute runs offer similar advantages to brushing your teeth, getting enough rest, and eating well. They keep you healthy.

“There are 12 hallmarks of ageing,” Andrew Ludlow, assistant professor at the University of Michigan, who studies cellular health and exercise, tells Runner’s World. “What’s good for your whole body physiology is also good for your cells. While the primary hallmarks are out of our control, such as the passage of time and the genes you inherit, the secondary signs of ageing are things over which we have control and include poor diet, poor sleep, and lack of physical activity.”

Of course, researchers do not yet know whether there is a specific amount of exercise that is ideal for everyone. But when Ludlow and his team studied people over 50, they found that those with the healthiest cells were moderately to highly active.

The bottom line is that, whatever your running habits, adding physical activity throughout your day, including easy to moderate 10-minute runs, will build up your antioxidant defence and promote an anti-inflammatory response, Ludlow adds.

To figure out when to add these quick, easy runs to your schedule, here are the best times of day for added benefits. All you need to do is put on running shoes and get out the door, hop on your treadmill, or even run in place!

The Best Times To Do a 10-Minute Run

Soon After a Meal
According to a 2023 systematic review and meta-analysis study published in Sports Medicine, women who did moderate or high-intensity exercise within 30 minutes after a meal had fewer spikes in their blood glucose levels. Similarly, a 2018 study published in Nutrients found that cycling at a light effort within 30 minutes of a meal reduced blood glucose levels.

Those with type 2 diabetes may benefit more from high-intensity post-meal exercise than moderate exercise after eating, according to research. It may even reduce reliance on insulin, says Lindsay Ludlow.

As Andrew Ludlow points out, intensity is often relative to the fitness level of an individual. A 10-minute walk is better than sitting, but runners might want to pick up the pace of their post-meal activity to reach that more moderate effort.

When You’re Grumpy or Down
Both Valentine and Lindsay Ludlow recommend turning to short runs when you’re in a bad mood. “You’ll get an energy boost when you’re out in the sunshine and you will feel your mood elevate with a run,” says Valentine.

Research bears this out. According to a 2022 PLoS One systematic review and meta-analysis, microbreaks — meaning scheduled times that interrupt extended sitting and focus — increase well-being, making people feel more attentive and energetic. Likewise, a 2021 Frontiers in Human Neuroscience article suggests that physical activity breaks reduce stress levels, while improving working memory in middle-aged adults.

Why turn those breaks into runs? A 2021 scoping review published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that acute bouts of running between 10 to 60 minutes can improve mental health, and according to the researchers, it doesn’t matter whether you run on treadmills, a track, or outdoors. The runners involved in the studies included in the review were using the activity to ease symptoms related to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and other mental health issues.

When You’re Ruminating Over a Problem
You’ve probably been there: Sitting at your laptop trying to figure out how to word an important email or struggling to add numbers. Guess what? That’s the perfect time for a run.

Valentine says 10-minute runs are great for problem-solving. And a 2021 study published in Nature found that a 10-minute single-bout of moderate-intensity running improves executive function, which relates to memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. In the study, researchers gave participants a series of tasks to measure reaction time and other skills. They concluded that running has stronger beneficial effects on mood and executive function than other physical activities, such as cycling, partly because it is a weight-bearing activity that requires coordination.

When You Don’t Have Time to Train
A quick 10-minute run is far better for your training and health than simply not running at all, say the experts.

To use a 10-minute run as a workout, Lindsay Ludlow suggests doing a three-minute warm-up, four-minute hard effort, and three-minute cool-down. Another potential workout Lindsay Ludlow and Valentine recommend: a three-minute warm-up, followed by three rounds of one minute hard and 30 seconds easy with a 2.5-minute cool-down. Valentine also suggests adding skipping and hip mobility moves to your 10-minute run.

Not all 10-minute runs have to be the same, Ludlow says. You can turn any 10-minute run into a training workout, whether you’re doing run-walk intervals or technique drills.

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