With rising obesity rates and some health-related ailments affecting scores of the population, it’s important that there’s a change in attitude when it comes to staying fit and healthy. Many conditions can be alleviated, or even cured, by just exercising more.
The type of training matters though, and that’s why running is the ideal choice. Perfectly simple, any physically able person can quickly take it up and start to see a host of benefits straight away. We all know it burns calories, but here are just some of the other main reasons that you should start running today.
It Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Running is amazing for your cardiovascular health, and even small amounts can lead to big improvements when it comes to your heart. Studies have shown that even a few minutes of regular running at slow speeds can drastically reduce your chances of dying from heart disease. Over time, the more running you do, your resting heart rate will decrease, which means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard and increases your chances of living a long and healthy life.
It Can Strengthen Your Bones and Joints
The long term effects of long-distance running may also be a surprise to some people. You may think that it’s hard on the body, and you’ll suffer for this later in life. In fact, the reverse is true. Regular marathon runners were found to be half as likely to suffer from osteoarthritis of the knees than walkers. While running does put stress on the body, it forces your body to build itself back up stronger than before. Low impact exercise such as walking or swimming doesn’t have this same stimulus so that you won’t benefit in the same way. If you want to maintain a high quality of life well into old age, then long-distance and high-impact is the way to go.
It Can Make You Happier
Mental health is a major concern these days, but running has been proven to combat feelings of stress and anxiety. It might sometimes be a struggle to drag yourself off the couch, but even when you’re battling with motivation, there’s good reason to lace up your running shoes and go for a jog anyway. Even spending half an hour on a treadmill has been linked to mood improvements in those with major depressive disorders. A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that a few weeks of running for just 30 minutes a week improved mood, concentration and even sleep quality. While no-one’s saying running alone can cure depression, it can certainly help.
It Can Give You a Natural High!
You may even find you start to enjoy the experience itself – a phenomenon known as “runners high.” What is a runner’s high, though? Running is as mental as it is physical. When you reach a certain point psychologically, you “may experience euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time,” according to Jesse Pittsley, president of the American Society for Exercise Physiologists. While the causes of runners high are debatable, one school of thought is that it could have something to do with endorphins. These hormones, located in the brain, deal with pain relief and feelings of well-being, among other things. Whatever the reason, if you’re lucky enough to experience this, you’ll start to find jogging less of a chore and more of an enjoyable pastime.
It’s Cheap (and Easy)
Many sports or activities require complicated or expensive equipment, or a fancy gym membership, to properly see the benefits. Such is not the case with running; all you need is a good pair of sneakers or specialist running shoes (though some people even run barefoot) and you’re ready to go! Whether it’s on the road or the beach, you’ve got plenty of options where you want to train. If you find the concrete hard on your body, running tracks are inexpensive to use, or you might prefer to use a cheap gym. There’s no need to pay for facilities or complex machines since all you need is a treadmill. There’s also not much to learn — after all, everyone knows how to run. While there’s certainly a technique to long-distance running, and reducing energy wastage, you can still see results without getting into any of this. Once you’re more serious or competitive, you can start to work on honing your form and reducing your times.
It’s Never Too Late
No matter your age and fitness level, there’s never a wrong time to start running. While almost any exercise is better than nothing, running ticks so many boxes that it’s the smart choice. These are just a small number of benefits, but there are many more reasons that you should start, which invariably trump any excuses you may have for not doing so. Whether you just run for the social or mental benefits, the physical effects on your body and health, the competition or the sheer enjoyment of it, you’re already becoming a better version of yourself.