If you were to go outside in nearly any town or city in most countries of the world, you are bound to see at least one person running at any given time. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, with it believed that over 600 million people participate in running globally.
The popularity of running further skyrocketed back in 2020. With gyms closing due to the pandemic, many people dusted off their trainers, downloaded Strava and took to the streets, making the most of their daily outdoor exercise allowance. And even when gyms reopened, many people continued their newfound hobby.
Running doesn’t have an avid fan base of millions of dedicated runners for no reason. Once you get started and work past the initial discomfort, running has some amazing benefits that improve your physical and mental well-being.
Be it improving the health of your heart and lungs, reducing your risk of various diseases, or improving your mood and self-confidence, there are benefits of running that appeal to almost anyone. It has even been proven to help with addiction recovery, from drug and alcohol abuse to problem gambling.
Read on to see which benefits of running resonate most with you, inspiring you to lace up your running shoes and hit the road, trail, or treadmill.
Running is the king of cardio. Even running for just 10 minutes a day can significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. It lowers your resting heart rate too, which is an important indicator of your overall health and fitness, with the lower the rate, the more efficient your heartbeat.
Improving cardiovascular health also helps increase endurance, meaning you can sustain vigorous activity for longer stretches of time. You will notice an improvement in overall fitness, which you will begin to feel in everyday life, from walking up stairs and hills to running to catch a taxi or bus!
Good quality sleep is essential for both your health and mental wellbeing. Our bodies repair themselves when we are asleep, which is why you should wake up feeling refreshed. It is believed that exercise helps you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality. Although runners were once warned that an evening workout could disrupt sleep, it has since been found that evening exercise actually improved sleep for that night. Just don’t do a hard interval workout within an hour of bedtime!
One of the biggest benefits of running is its mood-boosting effects. When you run, your brain produces two powerful feel-good chemicals – endorphins and endocannabinoids – which is where the phrase ‘runner’s high’ comes from. An effective stress reliever, running is said to give people headspace, boosting not only their mood, but their concentration, focus and overall quality of life. Running improves mental health, with many studies finding that it can reduce depression and anxiety, and help to tackle forms of addiction.
While many people believe that lifting weights is the only way to strengthen and build muscle, running can also do the same. Running on hills or tough terrain is a great way to strengthen your entire body as it forces you to use your stabilizer muscles, like your glutes, abs and back. These muscles are responsible for keeping you balanced and steady, and when worked harder, they become stronger and help you to maintain your form. Running not only helps to build your core muscles and provide an intense leg workout, but it can also strengthen your joints. Contrary to popular belief, runners are actually said to be less likely to suffer from hip or knee osteoarthritis.
Whatever your workout constraints, be that traveling for work, a large commute, not belonging to a gym, or only having 10 minutes to work out, you can still run. For those who are busy and can’t make workouts or classes fit to their lifestyle, running is a great choice. You can run for a mere 10 minutes and feel the benefits. And if some days you have more time or more energy, you can just keep on running. Running is free and without commitment, and being such a natural motion, there isn’t even a learning curve.
It can be hard to stay committed to exercise, including running. So, try to schedule in your runs as you would a meeting. Download your favorite playlist or podcast and get yourself outside and on the open road. No matter how far you go, your body and mind will thank you for it.
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