running in place

Running in Place: How to, Variations, Benefits and More

Ever gone on a run on a cold winter day? I have and boy did it suck! Breathing got harder by the minute and my hands were numb. Now running in the heat of summer is a story for another day. In both cases I gave up and went back home. The solution I found and that has worked perfectly for me is running in place.

What is running in place? Jogging on the spot or in place running is where you run within a set space. There are two ways you can do this form of running; one using a smart home treadmill and two the traditional cost free way without any equipment. 

In this guide we’ll discuss the variations of running in place, calories burned, and more. If you are looking for a good cardio exercises to do within the comfort of your home, read on.

How to run in place safely

If you are a beginner, here are some tips to help you jog in place safely.

Proper form: To start off, wear the right shoes and clothes. Something breathable. Your shoulders should align with your ears and your neck with the spine. This prevents stress on the shoulder and neck muscles.

Warm up: Like any other exercises, it’s important to warm up before you spot run. Fortunately, it’s easy for this exercise. You can start with a slow match in place for 3 – 5 minutes. This will help awaken your muscles. Also, warming up helps protect your joints and muscles from strain, injuries, and tears.  

Arms: Raise your arms to the sides and ensure they are at a 90 degrees angle.

Run in place for at least 30 minutes per session. According to this study by the CDC, an adult should exercise at least 150 minutes every week. This means that a 30-minute in place jogging session every day for 5 days a week is okay.

But, will running in place burn calories? This exercise burns calories but not as quickly as most of us would want. Enter hiit training.

 Now, interval training is where you switch the level of intensity, ensuring the body burns more calories per minute compared to traditional exercising. Here is an example of a 20 minutes spot running interval training session.  



Walk in place

3 minutes (warm up)


3 minutes

Run fast

3 minutes


1 minute

Run fast

3 minutes


1 minute

Run fast

3 minutes

Jog slowly

3 minutes (cool down)


Recent studies show that hiit training burns calories up to 30 percent faster than traditional form of exercises. However, if you have injuries, be careful not to strain yourself.

running in place

Jogging in place variations

From squats to dumbbells to dancing, every sport has a variation. Variations are beneficial because they work different muscle groups and also break monotony. So, how many variations or running in place are there and how to do them?  

  • March in place

Marching in place or walking in place is a great alternative to running on the spot. This low impact exercise is perfect for anyone suffering from knee pain or back pain and also for heavier persons starting their fitness journey.

How to:

  1. Stand with your feet apart and hands lifted on your side (90 degrees)
  2. Raise your right foot (bended at 90 degrees). Your right foot should move with your left hand and vice versa. Also, moving your hands exercises your upper body.
  3. Repeat this exercise for about 20 minutes. Do the march in place exercise at least twice a day for a good workout.

  • Mountain climbers

Standing mountain climbers are a variation of the mountain climber exercise. Like the other variations, it works the whole body. This compound exercise recruits muscles in your quads, abs, butt, and back.

How to:

  1. Start by standing with your legs slightly apart
  2. Raise your right knee to slightly above your waist (close to your chest)
  3. Raise your left hand high and mimic climbing motion. Switch to your left foot and right hand and repeat.
  4. Repeat the exercise 10 – 15 times then switch back to running in place.

  • High knees

High knees are a great alternative to running in place because they’ll get your heart rate up, burn calories and tone your core and lower body in one move. High knees work multiple muscle groups together. They’ll also help you build stamina.

How to:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet apart and hands on your side.
  2. Bring your right knee close to your waist and tap it with your hand
  3. Switch to the left foot and repeat the movement.
  4. Repeat at least 20 times and switch to spot jogging
  5. Running in place calories burned

Running in place calories burned

How many calories does running in place burn? According to this study by Wisconsin Department of Health, a 130 pounds person can burn up to 470 calories per hour running in place, a 155 lb person burns up to 563 calories while a 190 pound person burns up to 690 calories per hour.

A pound is made up of 3500 calories. So, if you weigh 130 pounds, it’ll take you around 7 1-hour sessions to lose a pound while a 190 lb person would take 5 1-hour sessions to lose a pound.

 In our recent article of running three miles a day we recommended various exercises to add intensity. Some of the exercises you can do in addition to running on the spot include

+ Squats

+ Jumping jacks workouts

+ Dumbbell presses

+ Bicep push ups

+ Wall sits

+ Seated calf raises and more

We’ve included links to some of the exercises so you can take a quick look.

jogging in place benefits

Benefits of running in place

Running or jogging in place has similar benefits to running outdoors. Here are the main benefits of in place running

+ Running in place helps your cardio-respiratory system work better. Your heart, lungs, and vascular system become more efficient at delivery oxygen to the working muscles and also throughout your body.

+  This exercise is low impact compared to running uphill. So, if you have joint problems or want to prevent future injuries, this is the exercise to do at home.

+  Running in place burns calories – What’s your target this year? To lose 50 pounds? Well, as stated above 1 hour of on spot running can burn up to 670 calories. In a recent post of 1000 steps per day, we discussed how heavier people burn more calories compared to petite people. If you are smaller, we recommend you add some weights and try the exercises mentioned above.

+  Improves your mental health: Running isn’t just for burning calories and losing weight. Running is a form of aerobic exercises and research show that these exercises enhance one’s cognitive thinking and improves mood especially for seniors.

+  Another reason you should run in place is for your bone health. This study  shows that jogging in place impacts bone health in a good way. It helps strengthen your bone. But, as a smart workout buff do not ditch strength training using your homegym.

+  Running in place works abdominal muscles, helping improve your posture

+  Boosts confidence – I find myself walking with my head higher whenever I shed off a few pounds. So, if you are looking to shed off weight, try running in place

+  Safety and comfort:  if you feel unsafe, especially women, running around your neighborhood, spot running is a great alternative to normal running. Also, if you want to avoid bad weather and a runny nose in winter, this exercise will do you good.

Safety and precautions: Mistakes to avoid during in place running

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when spot running.

1. Wrong clothes and shoes:

Some people ignore the importance of wearing the right exercise clothes and shoes. You have to be keen on what you wear even when training indoors. Too much and you’ll be sweaty and too little and you’ll be uncomfortable. Get the right pants and a light top.

For shoes, you want a pair with the right cushioning and good snugly fit. The upper should be mesh for breathability.

2. Overtraining:

This is a common mistake beginners do. Yes, it’s okay to want to burn as many calories as possible per session, however, aching and strained muscles won’t do you any good. A good running in place workout should last at least 30 minutes, then include strength training exercises for variation and muscle toning.

3. Breathing:

Don’t forget to breath. And, if breathing with your nose is challenging, it’s okay to breathe through your mouth until you build endurance.

4. Not taking enough water.

Remember to take water before, during, and after running in place

5. Wrong form especially with the hands.

Your hands should be lifted to your waist level and folded to 90 degrees. Do not swing them on your side or

spot running


1. Does running in place count as steps

Yes it does count as step. If you use the best fitness tracker to track your 10000 steps a day, it’ll count the steps while running on the spot.

2. How long should I run in place

Is running in place a good workout? For a good workout you should run at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. A one hour session can burn anywhere from 400 calories to 690 calories. You can add interval training to your routine to burn more calories per minute.

3. Running on the spot vs running

Running in place and running outdoors have similarities and differences.


+ These exercises work the same muscle groups. Jogging outdoors and jogging in place recruits the quads, calves, glutes, and hamstring muscles.

+ With both exercises, you can increase intensity per your needs. For running in place you can lift your knees higher and switch to interval training. When running outdoors you can run uphill.


+ One of the key differences is calories burned. When running outdoors you can easily change the terrain to work more muscle groups which burns more calories. Unfortunately, when spot running you cannot change the surface because you need a flat surface for stability. Running outdoors burns up to 600 calories per hour for a 150 pound person while running in place burns about 480 lbs.

+ Comfort: I find running in place more convenient than running outdoors. You don’t have to worry about the cold, heat, or rain. Also, your safety is guaranteed.

Final thoughts

Is jogging in place for you? If you are looking for low impact safe exercises to do at home, this is the perfect exercise. Is running in place a good workout? You’ll burn up to 500 calories for every 1 hour session. However, we recommend you add strength training gradually to tone your muscles.

Running in place engages your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and core muscles. Remember to maintain proper form for stability, and do not over train your body.

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