Do you see those joggers in the park and wonder how they do it? Or maybe you are a runner but find it hard to pluck up the motivation to put on your trainers and head out the door. You’re not alone. Running looks and feels like hard works sometimes, but you can learn to enjoy this form of exercise. The human body was designed to move, and running is a natural gait we all have, no matter what our shape or size is. Here is a list of the health benefits of running to get you excited about getting out there and bossing that run!
Running is a form of cardiovascular exercise, meaning it raises the heart rate. Our heart is a muscle, and it becomes stronger when we work it through cardio exercises. A strong, healthy cardiovascular system circulates oxygenated blood around our body, allowing muscles to work well and helps us to burn fat.
Strengthens Bones and Joints
You might have heard complaints that running is bad for the joints due to the repetitive nature of the movements, but that is just not true. Over time as you run, your bone density increases to withstand the demands put upon them. Running strengthens joints by increasing blood flow to the area and the ligaments. While some joint issues are fairly common, they are often caused by other factors such as trainers that do not fit correctly, or poor posture. These are things that can be overcome, so as long as you are a healthy weight, running should not pose a significant risk of injury to joints.
After a few weeks of running your muscles will be firmer and start to change shape. This mostly effects all of the leg muscles and your butt! You’ll notice the difference and start to feel more confident about how you look.
You’ll also notice how your stronger muscles are helping you to improve your running, and you’ll notice that you will be able to go further and faster than you could before. That’s something that can motivate you to keep going, as you can see the rewards of your efforts.
Regular cardio exercise such as running has been shown to relieve symptoms of stress and depression. When we run, our brain produces different feel-good chemicals, including serotonin which elevates mood, endorphins which are a natural painkiller, and endocannabinoids that make you feel relaxed and happy. If you’ve ever heard of the ‘runner’s high,’ then this is where it comes from!
When you go for a run on your own, it has a meditative effect where you can practise being mindful of your body, and have time to yourself to think through any problems. After running, relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety may be felt throughout the rest of the day.
Running also benefits your concentration levels helping you to be more productive, helps you to solve problems, and may slow down the effects of memory loss that comes with old age.
Energises your Body
Running regularly will make you feel more energised, yet we will always experience the odd slump. It’s good for you to take a nap now and then, or you might want to try natural energy supplements. If you suffer from fatigue often, make an appointment to see your doctor to rule out any other causes.
Running burns calories. Not only that but when we run at a moderate rate for over 15 minutes, our bodies turn to our fat stores for fuel. You can get the most of this by including sprints and uphill running into your usual routine. After a good run, you also continue
to burn calories for several hours! Read more about how running burns calories to get inspired.
Regular running also helps reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, and appetites are usually decreased for an hour after running. This can help you to lose weight as you naturally choose healthier, lower calorie options after a run.
Running helps keep your skin in good condition, as it helps your body produce antioxidants that flush out toxins. The increased blood flow may also reduce signs of ageing, helping us to look more youthful for longer.
Running boosts the production of hormones associated with sleep and also reduces the stress hormone cortisol. When you’ve been running, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep at night, and you’ll also sleep deeper. However, some people find running in the evenings hinders their ability to fall asleep as they feel energised for some time after. If you feel this way, then try to fit your run in earlier, allowing you to relax and unwind for longer before going to bed.
People who are active in their youth and middle age through exercise such as running, are less likely to have many other health complaints than those who do not exercise. This includes problems with being overweight and the development of some cancers.
To get the health benefits of running, you should aim to run for 30 minutes every day, but even running for just 5-10 minutes will have an effect. While this may depend on your level of fitness, a 30-minute run is something you can build up to. For example, you might find it easy to start with a walk/jog and keep at it until you are able to run for 30 minutes. There are free initiatives to help you get started, such as the Couch to 5K initiatives. If you do have any health conditions, it is a good idea to consult with a doctor before trying our any running activities.
Running is not just a sport, for many, it becomes a way of life. Once you get into a running routine, you’ll soon begin to look forward to your runs and enjoy the feeling of your body and muscles working. Running can help you to get in the best shape of your life, so get out there and go for it!