Articles & Tips

Is Running Good for You?

Running is truly in our genes. In prehistoric eras, our ancestors sometimes ran many miles hunting for food. Recreational running was first recorded as an activity in ancient Greece and was officially recognized as a sport in 776 BC. While running is no longer necessary for survival, people still run for a variety of reasons. It may be to improve health, to lose weight, to compete, or simply for fun. Whatever your reason for running may be, it’s smart to follow a personal running training plan from Custom Training Plans.

Running has been shown to significantly improve overall well-being, from mental health benefits, physical fitness, and social interactions, and it’s one of the most straightforward and easily accessible ways to enjoy these benefits. Since running improves aerobic fitness, it’s commonly cited as on of the primary ways to improve cardiovascular health. Running is also a great addition to a regimen designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Running’s Effect on Lifespan

A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that running about 6 miles a week can lengthen lifespan by 3-6 years. If you are a beginner, it is best to see your doctor to have a general checkup done and talk about whether starting a running program is right for you. This is particularly advised for individuals who are over 40 years of age, overweight, have a chronic illness, or if you’ve been sedentary for an extended period of time. A running plan for beginners might start with 30 minutes of brisk walking a few times a week. You will gradually build up to running at a pace that can help you avoid injury. If you are already a regular runner, continue putting in the miles to maintain the longevity benefits running can provide.

What are the Health Benefits of Running?

Regular running can provide a variety of health benefits. Short-term rewards like the boost to your morale and mood and the feel-good endorphin high that comes during a distance run. The long-term benefits require commitment and show only when you continue to run regularly. To get the most from running, whether it is for weight loss, fitness, fun, or competition, it is important to expand your knowledge of proper training, your unique health situation, and your nutrition.

As running is an aerobic activity, you will depend on the large muscles in your legs, hips, core, and arms. Your breathing will be faster and deeper, maximizing the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart rate will rise while running in order to pump oxygen-rich blood more efficiently, increasing the blood flow to your muscles. As you continue to run, your capillaries (small blood vessels) open up to deliver more oxygenated blood to your muscles. Waste products like carbon dioxide and lactic acid are carried away from muscles. The deoxygenated blood is enriched by the lungs before being sent back to the muscles and vital organs via the heart. 

Aerobic exercise like running is good for nearly anyone, regardless of your age, weight, or your athletic ability. Once your body adapts to regular aerobic exercise, you may notice improved aspects of your overall health, like:

  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy BMI

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a formula used to calculate the healthy weight range for adults using a person’s weight and height. Running burns calories and may help you achieve weight loss. If you combine your regular running sessions with a balanced healthy diet, running can be a great way to keep excess pounds at bay.

  • Toning your body

The main muscle groups worked by running are your quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, calf muscles, and glutes. Working any muscle regularly often leads to a more toned appearance.

  • Improving cardiovascular fitness

Running improves circulation to your vital organs such as your heart and lungs. The use of the large muscles in your legs increases venous return to your heart and boosts circulation. Increased blood circulation to vital organs provides more oxygenated blood. Additionally, natural waste products produced by the body will be removed from the body more efficiently.

  • Keeping your arteries clean and clear

Research has shown that running reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes and may aso be a factor in reducing blood pressure. As running is an aerobic exercise, it can increase your good cholesterol level (HDL or High-Density Lipoprotein) while reducing your bad cholesterol level (LDL or Low-Density Lipoprotein), which can help to avoid a buildup of plaque that could block the arteries.

  • Increasing your stamina

Initially, starting a running routine will make you feel tired. But over time, you will enjoy more stamina and additional energy in your day-to-day life. 

  • Fighting off illness

You can boost your immune system if you engage in a regular aerobic activity such as running. Exercise can help to reduce the chances of catching viral infections like the common cold or the flu. Along with less susceptibility to infection, you may also have an easier time fighting off illness.

  • Improving your bone strength

Running is considered a weight-bearing exercise that improves your bone strength. When you have stronger, more dense bones, the risk of fracture is reduced significantly. This is especially important for older adults. By combining running workouts with a healthy, nutritious diet, you can give additional support to your bones. 

  • Strengthening muscles and protecting joints

Osteoporosis is a leading cause of fractures, especially in post-menopausal females. Although running does not directly affect osteoporosis, it can help to strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints. Running exercises many large muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, hip flexors, and gluteal muscles. Strengthening these muscle groups can help to provide additional protection from osteoporosis-related fractures  and reduce joint inflammation.

  • Reducing the risk of Type II Diabetes

Insulin is a hormone necessary to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar. Diabetes occurs when insulin is not processed properly, causing an increased level of glucose in the blood. Regular exercise such as running can improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin and fight against insulin resistance. Taking up running can also help those who already have diabetes to control their blood sugar level more effectively than their non-running counterparts.

  • Improving skin texture and health

Improving your skin naturally fights the external signs of aging. Running stimulates your circulation, which helps to transport oxygen and other nutrients to your skin and flush out waste products and byproducts of oxidative stress. Increased circulation can help to give your skin a healthier appearance and reduce blemishes. 

  • Improving your overall quality of life 

As you get older, maintaining stronger muscles and joints can help you to support your mobility. Typically, those who stay active and independent report an improved quality of life. Regular exercise, such as running, can also lower the risk of falls and injuries due to increased stability. Engaging in regular aerobic exercise supports a sharp mind, protects memory, and sustains your reasoning and thinking skills as you age. It is found to help to prevent the onset of dementia in susceptible individuals and even improve cognitive functions in people with dementia.

  • Psychological benefits of running

Running is a form of exercise which can boost your mood instantly. It can help you to start your day on a positive note, especially if you have a habit of running first thing in the morning. Once your mind and body start to acclimate to running, it can be a blissful experience, providing you with a sense of well-being. Running releases endorphins into your blood, which is a feel-good hormone and acts as a natural painkiller. This can improve your mood and fight stress and anxiety. 

Research has found that just 20 minutes of running a day can work much like an anti-depressant to elevate your mood. Running can helps you to cope with daily stresses as you may be able to fight anxiety and face challenges with a more positive mindset after a good run. The more physically active you are, the less likely you’ll panic during stressful situations. Additionally, regular running has been found to promote relaxation and improve sleep as well. 

Social Benefits of Running

  •  For companionship

If you do not like to run alone, you can always join a local running club or run with a partner or a friend. Since so many people enjoy running, it’s easy to form social connections while participating in the sport. Running with a partner or a group helps, particularly if you want to cover longer distances. However, if you want to run at your own pace, running alone might suit you better.

  • Improving your competition skills

If you like competition, you can sign up for thousands of different races. You may be a beginner or an advanced runner, but anyone can enter a race. You can improve your running skills by participating in relays, training for marathons, or simply running for fun. Most clubs organize community-based running events for people of all age groups and abilities. Who knows, you may even win a prize or two to help boost your morale!

Other Benefits of Running

You don’t have to go to a gym for a good run. You can choose your time and location and take in the full experience of the environment around you.

Unlike other forms of fitness, it is easy on your budget because you won’t have unnecessary expenditures on fancy equipment or gym memberships.

Being outdoors is great for your body as well as your mind. It helps you to connect with your environment and enjoy the surroundings and scenery while you run. Also, who doesn’t love the fresh air that fills your lungs on a nice outdoor run?

How do you Improve the Benefits of Running?

Following these simple tips can help you to take full advantage of the benefits of running. With time, you’ll likely find it quite clear that regular running makes you feel better and healthier. To stay injury-free, remember these simple tips:

  • Make sure you warm up adequately and stretch before you start running. 
  • Cooling down with light stretching is also important when you complete a run in order to prevent muscle cramps and injuries.
  • Try to drink water before, during, and after your workouts. Taking a bottle of water with you while running can help you stay hydrated.
  • Wear appropriate running attire. Wearing a properly fitted, comfortable pair of running shoes helps you run more effectively.

We hope the myriad benefits listed above will convince you to start running or keep it up if you are already a runner. Personalized running plans from Custom Training Plans can show you just how beneficial the sport can be for your health and lifestyle. Get out and run today!