Running is a fantastic aerobic exercise whether you want to lose some weight or stay fit. It is the cornerstone of every fitness program but there is so much more to it. Here are the most remarkable ways running benefits your health.
6 Remarkable Ways Running Benefits Your Health
1) It trains your muscles
This is, of course, the main reason to start running. It is an excellent form of aerobic exercise that requires the mobilization of a great number of muscles. The main lower body muscle groups that are involved in the exercise are the gluteal muscles, the hamstrings, the calves and the quadriceps, but the supportive involvement of the upper body muscles is far from negligible. As in any other case, the intensity and the duration of the exercise determine the degree of muscle training.
2) It helps you burn fat
Aerobic exercises are irreplaceable to anyone trying to lose weight and burn fat. According to the American Council on Exercise, a 140-pound (64kg) man will burn about 10.8 calories per minute, or 324 calories during a 30-minute jog and 13.2 calories per minute, or 396 calories during 30 minutes of running. Of course, these values vary from person to person and depend on several factors such as body weight, intensity, and duration of the activity. Nevertheless, they provide a general idea of the effectiveness of running and jogging, especially in comparison to some other activities mentioned on the chart.
Several studies suggest that a very important, and often neglected factor, that contributes to fat burning is the EPOC or commonly known as “afterburn”. EPOC stands for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption and, in short, it’s the amount of energy necessary for recovery. During this phase, your body is trying to adapt the exercise it has just carried out, by stimulating various biochemical processes that require energy. In other words, your body keeps burning fat even after you stop exercising! How cool is that? Even though the accurate quantification of the EPOC can be a challenging task, since it depends on many variables, it’s still a great bonus that should not be overlooked.
3) It helps you build stamina, speed, balance and flexibility
It’s not just the muscle growth that defines a healthy body, but a combination of several characteristics, including endurance, speed, balance and flexibility. Other than the muscle training, mentioned above, running helps to improve the overall physical condition of the body. During this exercise, the coordination of the torso, upper and lower limbs, is required, contributing to the assimilation of a correct body posture, balance, and flexibility. At the same time, due to the nature of the exercise, the lungs and the heart function in an increased intensity in order to provide the body with the energy it needs. This results in a gradual endurance increase. It goes without saying that this type of exercise also improves your speed.
4) It protects you against diseases
In previous years, there was a widespread belief that jogging wearies the joints and may lead to irreversible conditions. At first glance, this seems reasonable due to the pressure the joints undertake during this type of exercise. In recent years, however, the scientific community has reevaluated the whole matter and tends to reject these claims. As the theory goes, regular and careful exercise not only does not harm articular cartilages but instead enhances them, reducing inflammation. There is actually a great number of studies that support that running benefits your health.
Furthermore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that running works shields against various diseases. It helps to build a strong skeleton and slows the loss of bone mass even in people who have already developed osteoporosis. Moreover, obesity and stress are associated with many pathological conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, that are potentially life-threatening. In fact, the main conclusion of a study by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), is that jogging is associated with significant mortality risk reduction as opposed to non-joggers. Still thinking about starting running?
5) It fights depression
Ever heard of endorphins and the reward system? Briefly, it’s the way your body tells you that an activity is pleasant and that you should repeat it. The secretion of these hormones, called endorphins, causes a feeling of euphoria, calmness and good mood in general while reducing stress. There are many studies linking regular aerobic exercise, such as running, with good mental health. As strange as it may seem to you, the next time you feel stressed, go for a run and you’ll see that it will help you relax and see things more clearly.
6) It offers the opportunity for meditation
How many times have you felt the need to stay alone and think calmly and without stress? The stifling, fast-paced rhythms of everyday life rarely give us the opportunity to meditate and connect with our inner self. Running benefits your health by providing a first-rate opportunity to escape from the routine and immerse yourself in your thoughts. So, go out for a run and enjoy life, away from your worries.