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Considered one of the most time-efficient exercises, running is an excellent way to get fit. The average adult burns about 100 calories per mile (or about 700 per hour at a moderate pace), and you can see a vast improvement in aerobic fitness in a matter of weeks. But when other responsibilities are running your life, and time for a trek is in short supply, here's how to make the most of your mileage:
- Invest in some intervals: Instead of just hitting the road at a steady stride, mix up your pace with short and fast intervals. Run full-blast for about 30 seconds, and then jog or even walk for another minute. Your overall distance may be less, but you'll get a more intense workout in less time. If you're running on a curved track, run the straight-aways at full speed and jog the curves; if you're running on a street, sprint for several telephone poles and walk for a few more.
- Include hills: You'll get more from your workout by choosing a hilly course, or at least including hills in your runs. Elite runners often sprint up a hill for about 30 seconds, and jog down. (Don't run down hills, because it increases risk of injury.) If you're running on a treadmill, you can include inclines every few minutes to get a better workout.
- Wear ankle weights: If you're in good shape and want to really challenge yourself, wear ankle weights and run up and down the steps of a high school stadium or bleachers. But do this with caution, because there's added stress on your joints.
- Be a softie: If possible, avoid running on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete sidewalks; softer surfaces such as grass, a dirt track or indoor tracks at health clubs reduces risk of shinsplints and knee pain.