For as long as I can remember, running has been put up on the highest pedestal by the fitness community as one of the best ways of losing weight. But do you really know the benefits of running?
You may like running, or you might hate it, but here’s an undeniable truth. You and every single person you know has at least once in their lives said, “I really should run more.”
The reason why pretty much the entire world has a love-hate relationship with running is that it can be quite intimidating to start.
Even after running regularly for a couple of years and knowing all of its incredible benefits, I still have a hard time lacing up my sneakers and get myself going. But after I do it, after I run, I feel gooood. However, if I told you that the wonderful after-run feeling is what keeps me going out for runs day after day, I’d be lying.
The only reason I lace up my shoes and step out of my house for my daily run every single morning is because of the many life-changing benefits. Running has done wonders for me and my health, and today, I want to share with you what it is about running that keeps me going.
- Running Adds Years to Your Life
I want you to think about the number of pills that the average adult consumes every week just to stay healthy and live a little longer. I’m sure that thought isn’t all that exciting. If there was an alternative to such a lifestyle, one that involves no pills and no expensive bills, wouldn’t you rather do that?
Of course, you would! That alternative is exactly what running is. If running were a pill, it would, without a doubt, be the most popular pill in the world. The cherry on top is that it has little to no cost.
Several studies have shown that running regularly can positively impact your lifespan. A scientific study about running found that runners have approximately 25 to 30 percent lower mortality rate than non-runners (1).
This is thanks to improved cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol, insulin control, stronger bones, and better hormone regulation, all of which are benefits of running.
- Relieves Stress and Lifts Up Your Mood
With everything that’s going in the world right now, our lives have become more stressful than ever, and being stressed all the time can cause a number of health problems. Stress can also diminish your appetite and disturb your sleep patterns.
But when you run, you force your body to release feel-good hormones and exert excess energy, relieving you of your stress.
Running can also make you feel happy if you’re feeling low, but I understand that running might be the last thing you want to do when you’re down. Yet, if you push yourself to take that first step, you will find that within just a few minutes of running, your brain will secrete hormones that will naturally improve your mood.
- It Helps You Sleep Better
The only time your body gets a chance to repair itself is when you are asleep, and that’s why getting the recommended hours of shut-eye is so important.
Intensive research from experts at Johns Hopkins shows substantial evidence that running helps you fall asleep more quickly and also improves the quality of your sleep (2). But this connection with sleep and running goes both ways, which means that the worse your sleep habits are, the less likely you are to exercise.
As long as you don’t within an hour of bedtime, running is not going to impact your sleep negatively.
- Strengthens Your Joints
You may have heard that running is bad for your joints, so you should stick to walking. But I’m here to tell you that you heard wrong!
A Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise study involving nearly 75,000 runners and walkers found that running does not increase the risk of health conditions that affect your joints (3). Nope, not even in people you regularly run 26.2 miles.
On the contrary, the study showed that runners were half as likely to suffer from knee osteoarthritis when compared with walkers.
This happens because every time your foot hits the road, you put stress on your bones and cartilage, but just like your muscles, they spring back together stronger than before. When it comes to your joint health, low-impact exercises like walking, biking, or swimming, do not offer the same benefits as running does.
- Lose Weight and Keep It Off
When you run, you are continuously moving your entire body weight, which is why running burns more calories than most other exercises. That’s the reason you don’t have to run fast to maximize calorie burn. Running slow will also burn almost as many calories, but it might take twice as long.
On average, running burns around 100 calories per mile. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but if you have been on a diet before or ever followed a workout plan, you know that losing weight isn’t the hard part. Keeping the weight off; that’s the real challenge.
Numerous studies have shown that people can lose significant amounts of weight by sticking to various diets or workout plans for about six months, but after that, the weight creeps back (4). And usually, after six to eighteen months, all the weight returns. If you’ve heard of “yo-yo dieting,” this is what it means.
The only group of people who seem to have beaten these odds are people who have committed themselves to a consistent, long-term exercise regimen such as running.
- Running Improves Your Immunity
In a study conducted to find the link between physical activity and the body’s defense system, the reports found that running can immensely improve the body’s surveillance against disease.
Running can lower inflammation, reduce the risk of respiratory infections, increase gut microbe composition, and improve antibody response. Though running increases your immunity, you must remember not to overdo it, as extreme exercise can temporarily lower your immunity.
In the times we live in, it has become especially important to increase our immunity. So lace up your shoes, and let’s get started!
Most importantly, when you’re just starting out with running, don’t feel pressured to go for a run every single day. Start out with just two times a week, then move to three or four. You could also start with just two minutes of running with a minute of walking in between.
But no matter what, just remember to pace yourself and enjoy the ride!
If you liked this post, check out our article about an amazing bike riding plan for weight loss.