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Running in Place: Benefits, Burned Calories, and More
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Running in Place: Benefits, Burned Calories, and More

Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 27
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7 min

Today, we look into running in place to find out if it provides the same benefits as the outdoor version we are so used to. How different are they? Let us find out.

running in place

Running as a form of aerobic workout has existed for many years. The benefits of this exercise span a broad spectrum, from improved mental health to cardiovascular benefits to weight loss, and its simplicity and dynamicity make it a fan favorite amongst many.

Essentially, it is a cheap, easy, and effective means of enhancing overall fitness. Running in place, also known as running on the spot, is one variation of this aerobic workout whose popularity has seen a tremendous increase, especially during this COVID era.

The exercise is just as in its name, running in one spot, and it comes alive during periods when you are unable to go for a regular run, like being stuck in a room or when the weather is too frigid to go out running. 

But how does it stack up to normal running in terms of the health benefit? If it does, is it an effective workout in attaining fitness goals, or is it just a side piece to the main workout?

To answer these questions, we look at the nuances that separate running in place from normal running, understanding the mechanics of this workout, its effectiveness, and the potential health benefits. 

Let’s run through the details!

Is Running in Place Effective?

The straightforward answer is yes; running in place is an effective workout. However, before we dive into why it is effective, it would be best if you come to terms with the fact that you will not get the full benefits as with regular running.

That is primarily because of the lack of terrain diversity and limited motion range; you are not pushing your body forward or lifting your knees higher. 

Hence, you do not engage all the different muscle groups as in the case of traditional running; your glutes and hamstring get little involvement when running in place.

In that case, you can introduce diversity by including exercises like butt kicks, jump squats, and high knees.

Then again, with regular running, you tend to land more on your midfoot or heel, cushioning the impact on the track. But, again, this is a more natural habit, exerting less stress on the joints, resulting in reduced pain and injury risks.

On the other hand, running in place forces you to constantly land on the ball of your feet, elevating your pain and injury risks.

Still, running in place is similar to traditional running as it burns calories and fat and raises your heart rate. It also enhances cardiovascular health, improves respiratory function, and builds muscle strength.

At the very least, choosing this exercise depends on your fitness level, goals, and the path you decide to take to attain said goals.

How Many Calories Can I Burn Running in Place?

Research by the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services revealed that a 130-pound person running in place for 1 hour would burn about 472 calories. In the same scenario, a 155-pound person will burn 563 calories, while a 190-pound person will burn 690 calories.

When it comes to burning calories, you need to consider your body composition and the intensity of the exercises to get accurate data. These factors include your body weight, height, basal metabolic rate (BMR), and pace.

Regarding your weight loss journey, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that you need to cut down your daily calorie intake by 500–750 calories and increase your physical activity. That calorie burn will propel you to shedding 1–2 pounds in a week.

As for physical activity, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises healthy adults to get at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Again, you can opt for 75 minutes to 150 minutes of high-intensity exercise weekly.

Better still, you can partake in an equal mix of moderate and high-intensity exercise to get the most out of it.

Combining this exercise with other exercise variants, like high-intensity interval training or strength training and a healthy diet, will allow you to sustain a healthy weight. 

How Long Should I Run in Place?

The time spent on running in place workouts will depend on the endpoint you are trying to reach. As such, you can run in place for as long as you need to.

It is wise to consider the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which states that you need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise weekly.

If running in place is a part of your warm-up exercises, then 10 to 20 minutes is enough to warm up your muscles. However, you can even go as far as running in place for 30 minutes.

You can also introduce variations to this workout; you can start slow and then build up speed, or you can start at full burst and finish your workout at a slower pace. As long as your muscles and joints are not inflamed, you are free to keep up with your workout.

How to Run in Place?

As you know, running in place is a different workout than other running exercises. So, you are going to do new specific movements to complete this workout, and we have listed out how to run in place.

  • Start by warming up with a few exercises to get your heart pumping and muscles loose.
  • Stand straight, with your chest squared and both feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Raise your right arm and left foot simultaneously, bringing your left knee all the way to your hip level.
  • Bring both limbs down and switch to the opposite pair, pulling your right knee to your hip height.
  • Continue this alternation until the exercise is complete, pulling your knees higher and your arms forward and upward.

Having gotten the hang of it, you can continue running for an extended period before switching workouts. On another note, it would help if you use a proper breathing technique, keeping your breathing steady at all times.

5 Benefits of Running in Place

In general, running has many benefits, making it a unique workout package. So, let us look at 5 benefits linked with this workout. 

1. Improves cardiovascular fitness

This is one crucial aspect that is peculiar to this aerobic workout. Running in place helps increase your heart rate, improve circulation, stabilize blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure, key ingredients for positive cardiovascular health.

In fact, a publication in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology attested to this fact, stating that partaking in aerobic exercise improves heart health, lowering your risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease by as much as 45%.

Similarly, active participation in any aerobic exercise will improve lung capacity. That is because it increases blood circulation to your lungs, enabling them to deliver more oxygen into the blood.

2. Promotes weight loss

Your weight loss and calorie deficit are tied together. The number of calories you burn will dictate the amount of weight you lose.

Theoretically, you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound, which typically spells a one-week period. That means burning at least 500 calories to hit your weekly weight mark.

Running in place is a good workout to see you through your fitness journey.

3. Increases musculoskeletal development

Although running in place does not target all the muscles regular running targets, it still stimulates the major muscles to a huge extent. Your lower body muscles receive most of the stimulation, while your upper body, mainly your core muscles, benefit sparsely.

You can grow these muscles based on the workout’s intensity and increase overall muscle strength.

Similarly, this high-impact exercise can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis, and other bone-related problems. Still, you must include high knee and butt kicks and other exercises to maximize the benefits.

4. Improves mental health

There is sufficient evidence that running is great in improving mental health issues and helping people suffering from depression and anxiety reduce tension and stress.

The exercise sparks the release of endorphin, which is the body’s “feel good” chemical.

5. Fits into any lifestyle

This is perhaps what makes running in place so great; the ability to do it anytime and anywhere. The exercise is straightforward, whether you are stuck in a hotel room, on the beach, or locked up during winter.

You also do not need any equipment to start and complete the workout, making it a great workout for beginners and experts alike.

FAQs

Can you lose weight by jogging in place?

Yes, it is possible to lose weight by jogging in place. However, you must be consistent with your workout to see significant results.

Is jogging in place good exercise?

Jogging in place is a remarkable exercise to see you through your fitness goals. However, you need to pair it with other exercises to make huge progress.

Does running in place burn belly fat?

You can burn belly fat by running in place because it forces you to use the correct form. Running with proper form engages your abdominal muscles, and this prompts fat loss.

Word From Our Coach

Running in place might just be the exercise for you. It is easy, and the gains are noticeable. But still, you need to be cautious with this routine as it stresses out your joints.

Without question, you should always prioritize your body. A few stretches to begin your routine will help loosen your muscles, while cool-down sessions will lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure.

In any case, seek help from a professional trainer before venturing into this workout. They have the tools and knowledge to help you out with your training. 

Conclusion

Running in place is an excellent workout for anyone unable to take to the tracks. The benefits are symmetrical with traditional running; all you have to do is find your sweet spot and be consistent.

Always listen to your body to ensure you are not overworking your joints as much as you want to crank things up.

Have fun and keep exercising!

Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified Yoga Instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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