Sure, running in place might not get you anywhere in terms of physical distance — but can it accelerate physical fitness?

Actually, yes. Though running in place (or doing high knees or butt kicks) doesn’t use all the same muscles as running outside or on a treadmill, it still packs benefits.

So, if Bruce Springsteen was born to run… were you born to run in place? 🏃‍♀️

Maybe. Let’s dive into health perks, risks, and tips for this unique running style.

person running in placeShare on Pinterest
Guille Faingold/Stocksy United STUDIO TAURUS/Stocksy United

Running in place is a legit aerobic workout whether you’re in a teeny apartment, hotel room, or stuck in a cubicle.

It also does a lot for your health, including:

TBH, there’s not much research on running in place specifically. But science says getting your heart pumping and sweating it out will unleash a bounty of health and fitness perks.

Obvs, running in place isn’t exactly like running around town. So, what’s different about this small-space solution?

  • Works different muscle groups. Running in place doesn’t include forward propulsion. Landing differently could help with ankle and lower leg strength. At the same time, you won’t work your glutes and hams as much as when you run outside. And since there’s no incline, you might miss extra muscle-pumping action.
  • May put more pressure on the knees and hips. Running in place instead of running forward might put more pressure on your knees and hips. Reduce impact by jogging on a soft surface like a yoga mat or carpet.
  • Correct form may be more of a challenge. Many of us have some practice jogging on a treadmill or out in the world. We might not have the knowledge of proper form when it comes to running in place. But practice makes perfect!
  • You could get bored AF. Let’s be real, running in place can get boring. When you’re running outside, you get a change of scenery. On a treadmill, you can switch up the incline or get bossed around by a robot trainer. No such luck when running in place in your living room.

Jogging in place can give you a solid workout. Plus, it’d likely be easier on your joints than going at cartoon roadrunner speeds.

Just like jogging on a treadmill or the sidewalk, jogging in place can …

Before you begin, warm up your muscles with a few stretches or slower exercises. Consider jumping jacks, mountain climbers, knee kicks, or lunges.

When you’re ready, here’s how to run in place:

  1. Lift your right arm and left foot at the same time.
  2. Raise your right knee as high as your hips. (Speed-walker style.)
  3. Switch to the opposite foot, quickly lifting your right foot to hip height.
  4. At the same moment, move your right arm back and left arm forward and help.
  5. Keep it up!

Try a 10-minute run followed by rest or other exercises (push-ups, lunges, burpees, etc.).

You could also turn this into an interval training workout:

  1. Jog in place for 4 minutes.
  2. Run faster in place for 2 minutes.
  3. Do 1 minute of bodyweight exercise (i.e. push-ups, leg raises, planks.).
  4. Jog in place for 3 minutes.
  5. Rest for 1–2 minutes.

Listen to your body. If you’re not experiencing any pain or strain, go ahead and run in place for as long as you’d like.

For reference, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise for optimal health.

For some people, running in place could be the solution to squeezing in 10-minute sweat seshes without leaving the office. Start with 10- to 20-minute sessions, then work up from there if your body still feels good.

What about running in place for 30 minutes?

Totally fine.

As long as your muscles or joints aren’t screaming, go ahead and run in place for a full 30 mins. It’s a great daily exercise in a pinch!

If you’re super new to fitness, recently endured an injury, or have individual health concerns, talk with your doc or certified physical therapist before you get started.

Running in place might place stress on certain muscles and joints, including those in your:

Prevent probs by using proper form and building up your routine slowly.

Walking it out is pretty legit — I mean, just ask UNK.

Walking and running in place are both good options for squeezing in daily movement. Depending on your goals, you might find it easier to just take a walk.

Walking is less stressful on the joints. It may be a better option for folks with knee or ankle probs or other injuries.

Of course, you won’t burn as many calories or reap as many cardiovascular and muscular rewards when taking a walk through the neighborhood. But hey — it’s still way better than sitting all day.

Running in place prob won’t replace your regular gym sesh, Pilates class, or 5K run, but it still offers fitness benefits.

This space-saving exercise can boost cardio health, burn cals, and build strength.

Even though running in place doesn’t offer *exactly* the same benefits as running, it’s a good option when you can’t squeeze any other exercise into your routine. Just remember to call it a day if you experience joint or muscle pain.

Peppering your in-place running with exercises like jumping jacks, lunges, and burpees can diversify your fitness routine and keep you fit and healthy — even when you can’t leave your apartment.