The Daily Mile: An Implementation Guide

This story was originally published in the 100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

A simple, free and effective health and wellbeing initiative for children aged 2-12.

The Daily Mile is a simple and free initiative for schools which improves social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, as well as fitness. Accompanied by their teacher, every child in class goes outdoors for just 15 minutes every day to run or jog, at their own pace, with their classmates – everyone is involved. They return to class more able to concentrate on their learning.

With the emphasis on fun and enjoyment, The Daily Mile is a non-competitive, social activity which encourages children to focus on their own health and wellbeing. It is fully inclusive, so all children are able to take part; children with physical difficulties, special educational needs or mobility issues can all participate in The Daily Mile with support if needed.

The Daily Mile takes place outside in the fresh air during the school day, at a time of the teacher’s choosing. For maximum benefit, it should be done a minimum of three times a week, in addition to curriculum sport or PE. Children run in whatever they’re wearing to school and no special uniform or equipment is required. There is no training needed for schools or teachers and there is no extra workload for staff.

Elaine Wylie MBE, Founder of The Daily Mile


The Daily Mile was started by Principal Elaine Wyllie MBE, in 2012, in her primary school in Scotland (United Kingdom). By chance, the children discovered that most of them could not run around the football field without stopping through exhaustion. They took ownership of the problem, helped to create the solution and solved the problem by running and jogging round the field every day for 15 minutes. They were fit in four weeks.

Since then the program has grown – nearly 9,000 schools in over 60 countries around the world are now registered to take part and experiencing the benefits of The Daily Mile.

"The Daily Mile is an excellent program. It is simple and inclusive, and it can successfully engage children in physical activity, who would otherwise not undertake in physical activity... I certainly agree that we want more schools to adopt the active approach and adopt The Daily Mile." — Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Sir Andy Murray, #DailyMileAmbassador

Expected benefits

Being physically active plays a major role in building children’s physical, social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Schools which correctly implement The Daily Mile can expect to see many of the following benefits for children, which are supported by a growing, emerging body of research;

  • Improved fitness, through increasing levels of moderate to vigorous activity (MVPA) and decreasing sedentary time. 
  • Improved body composition, including reducing levels of fat. 
  • Improved focus, concentration and memory are evident in class, which enhances the children’s ability to learn.
  • Teachers report that children are often more settled afterwards, leading to improvements in classroom behavior.
  • Teachers report that children have more energy and work more collaboratively with their peers.
  • Children report higher levels of self-satisfaction and happiness.

For more information, please visit the Research page of our website.

"I thought it was a fabulous idea and such a simple, common sense, way to enrich children’s lives in so many ways." - Parent, St. Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School (England, UK)

Core principles

The Daily Mile is based on 10 Core Principles; these help to ensure it remains sustainable and effective for settings who are taking part, and simple to implement. The principles are as follows.

  1. Own pace - Children run or jog at their own pace.
  2. Quick - It takes just 15 minutes - the time, not the distance, is important.
  3. 100% inclusive - The Daily Mile is for every child, every day.
  4. Fun - It's social, fun and non-competitive.
  5. Weather - It happens in almost all weathers.
  6. When to go - Teachers choose when best suits their class.
  7. Route - A firm, mud-free route is important.
  8. Risk - Make sure your route is risk assessed and wide enough to be social, plus safe for the children to run on.
  9. Clothes - Children run in whatever they wear to school.
  10. Simple - Keep it simple and child-pleasing.

The Daily Mile in action!

Eliud Kipchoge, the world's fastest marathon runner and #DailyMileAmbassador

Key steps for implementing The Daily Mile

  1. School staff receives information about The Daily Mile. This information might be from the website, on social media, at a conference where The Daily Mile is being presented, an article in the press or through word of mouth. More information about the program is available by getting in touch with The Daily Mile USA team.
  2. School leadership approves The Daily Mile to be implemented by the whole school, communicates this to all teaching and non-teaching staff, and nominates a Daily Mile contact.
  3. The Daily Mile contact signs up on the website. This is free to do and takes approximately five minutes. Signing up for The Daily Mile allows settings to stay up to date with the latest news from The Daily Mile in the USA. Registering for The Daily Mile helps settings feel part of our global community and the school pin will appear on our Global Map.
  4. The setting decides how they want to introduce The Daily Mile – they may choose to introduce it in a staged way, a class or age group at a time. Or they may decide that the whole school should all start The Daily Mile together. 
  5. All class teachers introduce The Daily Mile to their children, explaining what it is and why being physically active is important for health. Working with the children, class teachers agree on the route for The Daily Mile (e.g. around the playground, recreation area, local park, soccer field, or other safe outside space that the setting has access to). It helps greatly if the children see the problem for themselves and take ownership of it – and the solution.