Fitness

Why a daily 10-minute run could change your life

© Ian Corless / Red Bull Content Pool
Written by Joe EllisonPublished on
600 seconds might not sound a lot, but a short, intense run every day could just be the game-changer that your fitness routine is missing.
It can often feel as though there aren't enough hours in the day to fit in a run. That somehow, by having to choose between work, a social life and the open road, you can't have it all. But how about 10 minutes?
Yes, really – a mere 600 seconds of pavement pounding per day could supercharge both your mental and physical health in ways you might not have previously believed possible...
To coincide with Red Bull Race The Moon, a Strava challenge calling on participants to run a mile (or more) a day for 28 days between June 21 and July 19, redbull.com asked experts to reveal what a daily 10-minute run could do for you. It's one small step for Strava, but one giant leap for your PBs...

1. You might just get your mojo back

Setting yourself a goal of 10 mins a day could help you regain motivation
Setting yourself a goal of 10 mins a day could help you regain motivation
Whether you’ve been missing the gym or simply feel a bit, well, unmotivated, 10-minute runs are an ideal way of getting back up to speed, according to Dr Juliet McGrattan, ex-GP, runner and author of Sorted: The Active Woman's Guide to Health. “It’s an achievable goal, not time consuming and it fits in across the day, which means you’re more likely to do it," she says.

2. It can boost your mood

Exercise causes the body to release chemicals called endorphins, which can help to improve your mood and ease stress. "Those good chemical changes in your brain really can happen within the space of 10 minutes, relaxing you and making you happier," reveals John Brewer, Professor of Sport and Exercise and author of Run Smart. The act of ticking off a goal can also have a positive effect on your mental health. "The other bonus of goal setting is that it's great for your mental health, lifting your mood when you fulfil what you set out to achieve," says McGrattan.

3. It may prolong your life span

One run a week could cut the risk of early death by 25%, research says
One run a week could cut the risk of early death by 25%, research says
Spider-Man may find spinning webs are the best means of getting around Manhattan, but this next fact might just encourage him to change tact: “There is evidence that running just once a week can not only prolong life expectancy, but also extend the quality of life within your lifespan,” revealsBrewer. “Running has been shown to reduce blood pressure, to reduce cholesterol levels, reduce the incidence of type two diabetes, heart attacks and even some types of cancer. 10 minutes? It all adds up."

4. It's enough time to tackle a hill

Running downhill can help to boost muscle strength
Running downhill can help to boost muscle strength
If you don’t want to run flat out but you still want to be challenged, running down a hill is a smart way to develop leg strength in a short time window. “People say it damages knee joints by running too fast downhill, but if you pace it right it will strengthen them," says Brewer. "So long as you’re sensible and not sprinting, using the braking force of the leg while running downhill creates eccentric contractions of the quad muscles because they’re being stretched at the same time they’re trying to contract, and that develops muscle in a good way."

5. A power break for workers

“A quick run can improve your concentration and focus when you get back to your desk, while also leaving you time at lunch to catch up with friends or run an errand,” says McGrattan. This is particularly true for the rapidly growing number of remote workers who tend to set their own hours at home. “It’s certainly very handy for people who work at home, as they’re more likely to be able to drop everything and go for a quick run when they feel like it, and also be closer to green spaces than they otherwise would at an office."

6. You limit sedentary time

Unspent energy can cause stress in our cells, but running can prevent this
Unspent energy can cause stress in our cells, but running can prevent this
According to McGrattan, staying healthy is all about breaking up sedentary time: "We know that when you are sedentary your body goes into storage mode and starts storing fat. The body is designed to move, so if you aren’t moving frequently then you can get stress in your cells which damages them, so breaking up non-active behaviour with a daily short run is great. Besides, what’s 10 minutes? Doing the dishes?"
There’s a lot of evidence to show a person's self-image can be improved by even a short run. Put in some good, hard 10-minute sessions and you’ll feel good about yourself and come away with a bit of a swagger
Professor John Brewer, author of Run Smart

7. Short daily runs can supercharge your lungs

“You only have to read a newspaper right now to know there’s never been a more important time for the average person to maintain lung function,” says Brewer. “Research shows that shorter bursts of high- intensity exercise will have an equally beneficial effect to the lungs and heart as steadier, longer exercise,” says Brewer. This is very important for boosting oxygen transport capacity within the body."

8. It will get you fit for five-a-side

A day 10-min run per day might just transform your performance on the pitch
A day 10-min run per day might just transform your performance on the pitch
If you’re looking forward to getting back in shape for five-a-side football, brisk solo runs are the perfect platform to reclaim match fitness. "With high-intensity sports, those based around fast sprints and short recovery periods, they require a very specific type of fitness," says Brewer. "Unlike an hour of paced running, 10 minutes of high intensity training takes the body out of its comfort zone and puts it into an overload situation where you get a higher level of heart rate and greater strength movements, which will only help with more intermittent activities. The body responds to that overload and adapts to it."

9. You'll improve your self image

There’s a lot of evidence to show a person's self-image can be improved by a run", says Brewer. "Put in some good, hard 10-minute sessions and you’ll feel good about yourself and come away with a bit of a swagger. You’ll gain a lot of muscle, eventually lose body fat and you’ll feel really good about yourself, which can help all areas of your life, from work and beyond."