How Much Running Is Healthy for a Teenage Girl?

Female jogger

Running has a wide variety of beneficial health effects for everyone, including young girls. Fitness, health, self-esteem and even team-building skills are all developed through running. The amount of running most beneficial for a young girl will depend on her reasons and needs for running, though establishing a minimum base level of running fitness can benefit almost any teenager.

Both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that everyone under age 65 perform moderately intensive cardiovascular exercise, such as running, at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Alternatively, you can also perform vigorous cardio exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

Fitness Benefits

Running benefits a teenage girl's health and fitness in many ways, from the obvious to the more nuanced. A strong cardio base and experience in running can boost performance in many sports, including track and field, soccer, softball and basketball. Running burns calories, which helps keep young women lean. This also helps to prevent illnesses like childhood diabetes. Further, running can instill athletic and physical confidence in young women.

Team-Building and Social Benefits

Many running-related activities are also great ways to socialize or get involved in the local community. Races, charity runs and sports teams all provide intrinsic social value for teenage girls, while simultaneously providing a means to compete and improving their running ability.

Health Considerations

While there are many benefits for teenage girls participating in running, you should take certain precautions when working up to a regular running routine and to avoid running-related injury. To avoid overuse injuries like shin splints or pulled muscles, girls new to running should ease into any regular running routine by first following the minimum program guidelines and running at a manageable pace and distance, slowly increasing intensity and distance over time. Girls with existing health issues should also consult their family physician to ensure running a viable and safe sport for them.