Running is one of the most natural and popular forms of individual exercise. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment beyond a good pair of shoes and perhaps a portable music player.
Running also provides a number of benefits to your health and overall well-being. Now let’s take a look at some of the benefits you’ll get when you start a running program:
1. Weight loss
One of the most common reasons that people start a running program is to lose some weight. Whether you’re obese or whether you just want to lose that extra 5 pounds, running is an effective way to get the results you want.
Around 2/3 of runners start out running solely for purposes of weight management. Running burns fat better than just about any type of cardiovascular exercise, with only cross country skiing coming in ahead of running.
2. Maintain bone strength
Our body works on a system of supply and demand. The more we demand from our body – and our bones in particular – the stronger they will be. Running tells our skeleton that it needs to stay healthy and helps to promote metabolic processes that maintain bone strength.
3. Combat and prevent disease
There are a number of conditions that running helps decrease your risk for developing the disease. For example, regular running lessens the likelihood that you’ll have a stroke or develop breast cancer. Running is also often recommended for people who have diabetes or hypertension.
Running can also help reduce the risk that you’ll have a heart attack because it can help your arteries remain more elastic by causing your arteries to expand and contract more than 300% of what they do when you’re at rest.
4. Maintain overall well-being
Running raises your level of HDL “good” cholesterol. It reduces the risk that you’ll have blood clots. Moreover, running encourages your lungs to operate at full capacity and creates a higher concentration of the white blood cells that fight disease.
5. Increase confidence
Running lets you build up your self-esteem. When you take up running, you can set milestone after milestone, growing stronger and stronger as time goes on. You feel empowered when you reach those goals. You feel good about yourself knowing that your body is both capable and strong. Combined with weight loss, running can provide a huge boost to your self-image.
6. Stress relief
Running, like other forms of exercise is a great way to let off some steam. Tension built up in your psyche can be released as your feet pound through the pavement. For some people, running provides them the opportunity to clear their heads for better problem-solving.
You’ve probably heard of the “runners’ high.” When you run, your brain releases endorphins which can cause a general sense of euphoria. Psychiatrists include running as part of their overall treatment program for clinical depression. They found that patients who run have less fatigue, less mental confusion, and are generally less depressed.
8. Increased mental acuity
Running improves your mind as well as your body. The focus and determination you apply in your running program can be extended to other areas in your life as well.
9. Improved coordination
Running can improve your coordination, depending on where you run. If you run on trails, you’re going to build coordination fast. Uneven surfaces and obstacles help you to build and maintain control over your body to keep from stumbling and tripping.
10. You can do it anywhere
Running doesn’t take a whole lot of gear and no matter where you are, you can usually find a place to run. Whether it’s running through a city park, down a sidewalk, or along a dirt road out in the country, running is one of the most versatile forms of exercise around.
So if you’ve been thinking about running, now is the time to start. When you participate in a running program, you’ll reap all of these benefits and more. You’ll be healthier, feel better about yourself, and get your body into shape all at the same time.
About the author: Dorothy Wheaton, PA-C, works for Careworks Healthcare and is the lead clinical provider for their walk-in clinics. Careworks Healthcare offers multiple urgent care clinics in the Northeast United States.