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There's no doubt that running a mile each day is a step in the right direction toward overall health. If you're looking to lose weight, running is one of the most efficient -- and cheapest -- ways to burn calories. On top of that, it's a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and build muscle. If you're thinking of including a one-mile run in your daily exercise routine, knowing some of the basic facts about speed and calories burned can help you tailor your workout to meet your fitness goals.
The U.S. Department of Health advises adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, for an average of about 21 minutes a day. If you're exercising vigorously, the recommendations are at least 75 minutes a week -- or about 10 minutes a day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, jogging or running is considered a vigorous exercise.
A slow pace for a one-mile run is 13 minutes, researchers from the University of Wisconsin say. Men's optimal speed, meanwhile, is about a 7-minute mile, and women's is about 9 minutes. Tie the speed estimate together with the recommended daily exercise guidelines, and you'll see that for slower runners, running one mile a day can meet the daily recommended dose of exercise. If you're running faster, you may need to add in more mileage or additional physical activities to meet that time guideline.
Any time you exercise, you're going to be burning calories, but the speed at which you run -- and your own weight -- can affect the number of calories you'll burn. According to MayoClinic.com, running at a speed of 5 miles per hour -- slightly more than that 13-minute mile -- will burn about 606 calories per hour for a 160-pound person, and 905 calories per hour for a 240-pound person. Running at a speed of 8 mph -- roughly a 7-minute mile -- can burn about 861 calories for a 160-pound person, and 1,286 calories for someone who weighs 240 pounds.
According to research on the evolution of human running published in the "Journal of Human Evolution" in 2007, reaching your optimal running pace means you'll be using the least amount of oxygen to get from A to B. When you run faster, your metabolic rate is faster -- meaning more calories burned. To ramp up your speed, try varying your running pace. The One Mile Runner recommends doing interval sets to increase your speed. Try breaking your one-mile run into eight sets of sprints, or running four sets of 1/4 mile at slightly less than your sprint speed to increase your speed and efficiency.