Running is the physical activity that can make you burn up to 1,000 calories in just one hour. This is the reason why long distance runners have very lean bodies. Not only that, running makes you exert yourself and remain active for a long period of time which leads to a healthier body.
This top cardio exercise will work your entire mid-section and will stimulate fat burning hormones in your body that will continue to work even during rest or sleep. Running targets large group of muscles and makes you work your entire body.
If you’re thinking about methods to extend life, running should be at the top of your list of workouts because this is the exercise that experts always link to longevity.
10 Top Health Benefits of Running
Here are 10 top health benefits of running:
- Healthy heart and lungs. Experts believe that the only way to strengthen your heart muscles is through exercise. And the more your heart becomes stronger, the healthier you are. Running makes your heart beat faster and work harder because the muscles in your lower body squeeze your veins as you push off to complete your step and relax in preparation for the next impact. This allows large amounts of blood to flow towards your heart. In return, your heart pumps extra blood to fill the veins in your lower body as your muscles relax to prepare for the next action. Running also strengthens the muscles that surround your lungs and improve your breathing technique.
- Rapid weight loss. Running can increase your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours so you’ll still be burning calories long after your workout is done. Considered by many as the favorite high-intensity workout which only requires a simple sports gear, running provides you with a great lower body workout which will also put your muscles in the arms to work as you go from mile to mile.
- Strong bones, joints, and muscles. Running belongs to high-impact exercises which can strengthen not only the muscles and joints but also your bones. When you’re younger, your bones grow with your body and typically reach their peak after you reach 25 years old, then, it’s possible to lose bone mass as you grow older. According to study, high-impact exercises, such as running and gymnastics, are more effective in building bone mass than low-impact exercises, therefore, they’re also more effective in building stronger and healthy bones.
- Healthy mind and powerful brain. Running doesn’t only improve your cardiovascular system, it can also make you smarter. According to study, running has great impact on your hippocampus, a major component of the brain that plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory, and in spatial memory which enables navigation. The hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain that suffer damage as you grow older so keeping your hippocampus healthy helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Running can also stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and prolong the lifespan of new brain cells.
- Good sleep. It’s a given fact that when the body is tired, its natural instinct is to get enough rest in order to function properly the next day. An average adult needs around 8 hours of sleep a day. Too much or too little sleep may lead to a shorter lifespan. Just like any other great exercise, running also promotes good sleep. Although, the number of hours a person needs to sleep may vary from each individual, achieving a better sleep also means achieving better health.
- Good stress reliever. While stress is a natural reaction of the body to protect itself from challenges, you must be able to relieve stress at the proper time to avoid negative impact on your health. According to study, continuous stress can cause headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, skin problems, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. One of the great and natural stress relievers is to engage in physical activity such as running.
- Improved immune system. The immune system is a host defense system of the body that protects us from diseases. A boost in your immune system is also a boost in your chances of not getting sick because exercises like running assist in further development or progress to the cells in your body that are assigned to attack bacteria.
- Improved complexion and younger looks. Regular exercise can strengthen the circulatory system (also called cardiovascular system), the system that permits blood to circulate throughout the body. A healthy circulation also delivers a health skin. And this also explains why those people who exercise regularly look several years younger that their actual age.
- Prevention of some cancers. Running promotes rapid weight loss so you can get rid of excess body weight in a shorter period of time. Excess body weight has been linked to increased cancer risk. A study written by Journal of Nutrition indicated that there’s a convincing evidence that increased physical activity reduces the risk of breast and colon cancers. It is also probable that increased physical activity reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Other cancers that can possibly be prevented are lung cancer and endometrial cancer.
- Longer life. Although, running requires a large amount of effort and can cause rapid breathing, a study written by PLOS Medicine indicated that physical activity may increase longevity further, especially if your workouts are higher than the recommended level (i.e. 150 minutes or 2.5 hours of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every week as per recommendation by World Health Organization), like running which belongs to vigorous-intensity physical activities. If you’re active and maintain a normal body weight, you can gain 7.2 years of life compared to people who are physically inactive.
Caution: Since running belongs to high-impact exercises, it is not recommended if you are highly overweight.
Running makes your foot receive at least three times your body weight on impact, so it’s very important that you wear a well-cushioned shoe that has long-lasting support and is perfect for your feet. If you’re new to running, you should know first the biomechanics of your foot (or pronation of your foot) to help you choose the best shoe for every running activity.
If you have neutral pronation or normal, healthy amount of pronation, you should choose a neutral cushioned shoe. Those who have high arch and those who tend to supinate (also called underpronation), meaning your foot rolls outward, must also choose a neutral shoe.
If you overpronate or have fallen arches, meaning your foot rolls inward more than fifteen percent of what is considered normal roll of foot, you should choose a stability or motion control shoe. Both overpronation and underpronation can be potentially harmful especially if you run on concrete or pavement where your foot receives greater impact. On the other hand, neutral pronation has the least tendency of getting foot pain or injury during any running activity.