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There’s a lot of forms of exercise but there’s one that stood the test of time – running. Have you ever the health benefits running regularly does to your body?
I was always a fitness guy but I never had a thing for running. I saw it as a boring form of exercise. Back then, I was always going for cool things like CrossFit and calisthenics. But curiosity started to creep in when I saw a lot of friends getting that famous runner’s high and talking about all the good things running did for them.
So I read a few articles, researched studies associated with running, and went on running regularly to see the benefits for myself. Here’s a summary of what I found.
- Decrease risk for cardiovascular diseases
- Increases life expectancy
- Makes you smarter
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Alleviates symptoms of depression
- Makes you fitter
- Improves overall mood
- Help you sleep better
- Help you lose weight
- Make your bones stronger
- Builds confidence
- Tones your muscles
- Strengthens core muscles
- Make your skin glow
- Gives you an energy boost
But that’s not all. Ahead, we will take a look at how running helps you achieve those health benefits with scientific evidence. We will also look at how much running it should take to achieve them.
15 Amazing Benefits of Running
1. Decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease
According to statistics, one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States due to cardiovascular disease. That’s 1 in every 4 deaths. And, by the lifestyle changes most Americans go through, it isn’t expected to drop any time soon.
But did you know that running even 5-10 mins/ day at slow speeds can reduce the chance of dying from cardiovascular disease by 45%?
That’s according to the study conducted by the American College of Cardiology when they examined the associations of running with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risks of over 55,000 adults aged 18 to 100 years old.
Running increases the heart rate and blood circulation which in turn helps remove fatty deposits and strengthens the heart.
Think of it this way, lifting weights grows your musculoskeletal muscles – the muscles you see from the outside. Running and other forms of cardiovascular exercises strengthen your heart and lungs which greatly impacts your overall health.
So the next time you’re going to skip cardio, think twice.
2. Increases life expectancy
In the same study, the researchers also found that running 5-10 mins a day at low speeds reduces the risks of dying from all-cause death by 30%. According to the research, recreational runners enjoy an additional 3 years of life expectancy compared to nonrunners.
Imagine what you could do in those 3 years?
3. Makes you smarter
Running and other forms of exercise are associated with better memory, focus, and task switching ability. That’s according to Dr. David Linden, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University College of Medicine in an article published by Hopkinsmedicine.org.
That means, running not only affects your physical health and physique, but it also affects your ability to think.
Think about the positive impact it will bring to your career if you’re able to use your brain more effectively.
4. Reduces stress and anxiety
Running stimulates your body to release endorphins, a chemical associated with happiness. This feeling of happiness while running is commonly referred to as ‘’runner’s high’’.
Getting a daily dose of endorphin from running will effectively reduce stress and anxiety.
5. Alleviates symptoms of depression
Because of the same chemical that produces the runner’s high, running and other forms of aerobic exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression.
An article published by the American Psychological Association revealed that participating in strenuous aerobic exercise is associated with reducing depression.
In a similar study, researchers experimented to find out the effects of an 8-week moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and found a reduction in depressive symptoms over the 8 weeks.
6. Makes you fitter
I’ve been lifting weights for 12 years now and half of those I’ve spent doing CrossFit, so I’ve always considered myself to be fit. As a matter of fact, I won several local CrossFit throwdowns and powerlifting events.
I always knew running was not a strong suit back when I was competing in CrossFit. But it was only when I signed up for races that I realized how bad my running was.
So, I decided to make running a priority and before I knew it, I’m fitter than I was back then. I don’t breathe heavily as much in these running events and I was able to trail run a half marathon easily.
7. Improves overall mood
Having a bad day? Go out for a run.
Running for as little as 10 mins will improve your mood, thanks to the wonderful effects of endorphins.
I noticed this the moment I started running. If I run at a certain intensity that is low enough that I don’t have to suffer, I experience a meditative state. It just makes me happy and in a good mood. And even when I’m done running, I remain in that good mood.
8. Help you sleep better
About a third of all people experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at some point in their lives. But did you know that all it takes to get over it is a pair of running shoes?
Running and other forms of aerobic exercise have repeatedly shown to improve sleep quality in several studies.
One study conducted in 2020 revealed the effects of regular aerobic exercise in sleep and fatigue on female university students who reside in dormitories. The researchers found that intense aerobic exercise for 8 weeks improves all aspects of sleep quality.
So the next time you’re having trouble sleeping, pick up a pair of shoes and start running.
9. Helps you lose weight
Struggling to fit those old pairs of jeans? Make running a regular thing.
Studies have shown that running at moderate intensity for 150 mins or at high intensity for 75 mins a week is enough to burn harmful belly fat even without dieting (but I still suggest you do so).
Running has been shown to burn more calories than most exercises. And the good thing? It doesn’t require any fancy setup. You just need a good pair of running shoes and some pavement or trail to run on.
By the way, if you need help choosing a good pair of running shoes, check out this article.
10. Makes your bone stronger
Wolff’s law states that the bone of a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed.
When you run, your lower body takes the load of about 3x your body weight. That’s enough to stimulate your bones and make them stronger.
Weight-bearing exercise is also associated with a decreased risk of osteoporosis that occurs later in life.
11. Builds confidence
When you run regularly, it makes you feel strong and healthy. Plus it lightens up your mood. The combination of feeling healthy, a good physique, and a lighter mood build overall confidence.
12. Tones your muscles
Running tones your muscles by burning the fat that could be hiding your muscles.
If you’re lifting weights, consider running for 30-50 mins a day to burn the fat layer that could be covering your hard-earned muscles.
13. Strengthens core muscles
Your core muscles are the ones holding your entire body together. While sit-ups and leg raise give you great-looking 6-pack abs for the beach, running develops muscles that hold the spine.
Running requires engaging your deep core muscles to maintain a proper posture. In addition, it requires a lot of twisting which develops core muscles far beyond the rectus abdominis alone.
14. Makes your skin glow
It’s a known fact that exercise improves blood flow and blood distributes nutrients to the body, including the skin.
Therefore, regular running can improve your skin complexity and make it glow slightly.
15. Gives you an energy boost
When you get that heart pump and blood circulation first thing in the morning, you get this boost of energy that carries on an entire day. This is one of the reasons why I like running in the morning instead of in the afternoon.
How long should you run?
Gladly, you don’t have to run a marathon or run 10k every day to benefit from the wonders of running.
According to studies, 150 mins of moderate-intensity running or 75 mins of vigorous exercise weekly is recommended to achieve most of the health benefits of running.
To put it in terms you can apply, running for only 30 mins a day at moderate intensity for 5 days a week will make you stronger, healthier, and in a good mood day in and day out.
(Related: Is it Okay To Run Every Day As a Beginner?)
The Wrap Up
Running has a lot of health benefits and the best thing about it is that it doesn’t take much to start doing it.
All you need is a good pair of running shoes, a route, and 30 mins of your day.
I hope what you’ve learned today about the wonderful effects of running will encourage you to make running a part of your daily routine.