Look around the parks near your area and you will find many people running daily in the morning or evening. Running challenges the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which improves health and well-being.
It can prevent obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, some cancers and many other health problems. Beyond the physical health benefits, running also improves the quality of your emotional and mental health.
Regular running, say 150 minutes per week, which is about 30 minutes 5 times a week, is a good goal. Most runners need 1 or 2 days off during the week. This gives the body a chance to recover and repair itself, which reduces the frequency of overuse injuries.
Beginners should start out running every other day. You need to train your body to work up to your desired distance or duration. Listen to your body as you train to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Also, do some stretching exercises before running to warm up your muscles so they become flexible.
Once you have started running, try to stick to a consistent schedule to enjoy its health benefits.
However, those suffering from high blood pressure, heart conditions, kidney problems and muscle or joint problems should consult their doctor before starting any exercise regimen, including running.
Here are the top 10 reasons to make running a routine.
1. Aids Weight Loss
Vigorous exercise like running helps in weight loss, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Running burns calories while you are doing it and afterwards, too.
It is difficult to estimate how many calories you will burn because it depends on your weight and running speed. Rather than fast, exhausting runs, it is better to run at a slower pace for a longer time. Try to run about 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week.
Also, supplement your running with a couple of strength and weight-lifting exercise sessions each week to help you lose weight faster.
2. Helps You Sleep Better
Rigorous running can help you fight insomnia and enjoy sound sleep at night. In fact, runners tend to fall asleep easier and have better quality sleep than those who do not exercise at all.
According to a 2010 study by researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, regular aerobic exercise can help improve sleep, vitality and mood in people suffering from insomnia.
The study found that study participants who ran on a treadmill, rode a stationary bicycle or walked briskly for 30 to 40 minutes 4 times a week, enjoyed better sleep. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness in during the day.
In addition, running increases body temperature and the post-exercise drop in temperature promotes sound sleep.
3. Keeps Joints and Bones Healthy
Running strengthens your bones and joints. According to a 2009 study by the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology in the University of Missouri’s College of Human Environmental Sciences, high-impact activities like running have a positive impact on bone mineral density in your legs and hips.
Moreover, when running is part of your daily routine from an early age, it can substantially reduce your risks of developing osteoporosis and arthritis. In fact, running can even improve bone density for women who already have osteoporosis.
Running also lowers the risk of fractures from sudden falls. But, make sure to wear the right shoes for running.
4. Boosts Brain Power
Aerobic exercise like running has positive effects on brain functioning. Running boosts memory by triggering the growth of grey matter in the brain. Moreover, it increases the heart rate, which means more oxygen reaches the brain. This provides more nourishment to the brain cells to grow and function properly.
Running will help keep you sharper, even as you age. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease concluded that regular physical exercises like running exert a positive neurophysiologic effect that helps maintain normal brain activity in the elderly.
When done on a regular basis from childhood, running reduces the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
5. Improves Heart Heath
Your heart is a muscle too, hence running on a regular basis will be beneficial for your heart. Running also increases blood supply throughout your body, which benefits several organs, including the heart.
It also helps reduce bad cholesterol, the main reason behind heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes.
According to a 2014 study done at Iowa University, running for just 7 minutes a day can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by almost half as compared to those who do not do any kind of physical exercise. Running at slow speeds is good for your heart.
However, do not overdo it as too much running may cause more damage than good.
6. Fights Depression
Several studies have found that physical exercises like running are an excellent way to fight depression. It promotes the release of feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins. Plus, it helps reduce immune system chemicals that can worsen the condition. Running also increases body temperature, which calms the mind and body.
Moreover, regular running has many psychological and emotional benefits. It can help you gain confidence, distract your mind from worries, give you a chance to socialize with others and improve your coping skills. All these factors are helpful in treating depression.
Whenever you feel depressed, get out and hit the road for a run.