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11 health benefits of running

Being one of the best cardio exercises, running can significantly improve your physical and mental health, healthy ageing, and quality of life. Here are 11 health benefits of running that you should know.

There are tons of reasons to lift weights, but it is not always necessary to hit the gym and work on machines to keep yourself fit. Many exercises offer similar or even greater benefits without the use of any equipment. One such exercise is running. It is a popular form of exercise that provides more than just fitness. Running is a complete workout that enhances both physical and mental health. It boosts cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, aids in weight loss, and improves mood through endorphin release. Additionally, running helps reduce stress and enhances sleep quality. It is one of the most simple yet effective exercises. Know the benefits of running and why you should perform it regularly.

What are the benefits of running?

Here are 11 reasons why you should start running every day:

1. May help you live longer

One of the most significant benefits of running daily is its potential to increase your lifespan. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that running, even for 5-10 minutes a day at a slow pace, is associated with a significantly reduced risk of premature mortality due to all causes, including cardiovascular diseases. “It can improve heart health, and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, ultimately contributing to a longer, healthier life,” says health and fat loss coach Jashan Vij.

2. Burns calories

Running is an excellent way to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Regular running is associated with lower body weight, reduced waist circumference, and a lower risk of obesity, found a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology. By engaging in this high-intensity aerobic activity, you can regulate your appetite, reduce stomach fat, and facilitate weight loss. Moreover, running increases your metabolic rate, which means you continue to burn calories even when you are resting.

Also read: Jumping rope vs running: Which is better for weight loss?

Understanding calorie deficit
Running can help you burn calories. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Helps you get some vitamin D

Spending time outdoors while running exposes you to sunlight, which is a natural source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, regulating mood, and supporting immune function. Regular outdoor exercise, such as running, jogging, walking, and cycling, is associated with higher vitamin D levels, explains a study published by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. An adequate amount of vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones and protecting you from developing osteoporosis.

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4. Strengthens your bones and joints

Contrary to the misconception that running damages your joints, regular running can actually strengthen your bones and joints over time. “The repetitive motion while running helps increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis,” explains Vij. Long-term running is associated with higher bone mineral density, especially in the weight-bearing bones (such as knees, ankles, and hips) of the lower body, according to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation.

Woman running in shorts
Running is actually great for joints. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock.

5. Improves heart health

Running is a powerful cardiovascular exercise that strengthens your heart muscle, improves blood circulation, and lowers blood pressure. According to research published by the American College of Cardiology, regular runners have a 29 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 50 percent lower risk of death from heart disease, such as heart attack, compared to non-runners. By regularly engaging in aerobic activities like running, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders.

6. Boosts mood

Running stimulates the production of endorphins, neurotransmitters in the brain that promote feelings of happiness. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that running can significantly improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Additionally, it reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving overall mental health.

Also read: 5 exercises to boost your mood for a productive day

7. Reduces respiratory problems

Regular aerobic exercise, such as running, strengthens your respiratory muscles and improves lung function. “By increasing your lung capacity and efficiency, running helps your body deliver oxygen more effectively to your muscles, enhancing endurance and performance,” according to Vij. Moreover, running can help reduce the risk of respiratory problems such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by promoting lung health and respiratory efficiency.

bad breathing habits
Running can improve lung function! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

8. Maintains eye health

While running primarily benefits your cardiovascular system and strengthens muscles, it can also have positive effects on your eye health. Regular exercise improves blood flow throughout the body, including to the eyes, which can help reduce the risk of age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. A study published in the Public Library of Science One found that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.

9. Promotes better sleep

Running regularly can significantly improve the quality and duration of your sleep. Exercise helps regulate your body’s internal clock, promoting a more consistent sleep-wake cycle. Regular exercisers, including runners, experience better sleep quality and are less likely to suffer from insomnia, reveals a study published by Advances in Preventive Medicine. Running can also reduce the risk of insomnia.

10. Increases muscle strength

Running is a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including your legs, core, arms, and back. By running regularly, you can increase muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility throughout your body, found a study published in the Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. Having strong muscles means a reduced risk of injuries and enhanced daily activities.

Fit woman
Running improves muscle strength. Image courtesy: Freepik

11. Aids immunity

Regular exercise, including running, plays a crucial role in maintaining a robust immune system. Moderate-intensity aerobic activities such as running stimulate the production of immune cells and enhance their function, helping your body fight off infections and illnesses more effectively, found a study published by Clinical and Experimental Medicine.

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How to run properly?

Running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that requires minimal equipment. To run properly, keep these tips in mind:

1. Invest in a good pair of running shoes to prevent injuries.
2. Never skip a warm-up. You can do light stretching and brisk walking.
3. Start your run at a comfortable pace, maintaining a steady rhythm.
4. Gradually increase your distance and speed over time.
5. Do not forget to stay hydrated and avoid fatigue or headache.
6. Always listen to your body and avoid overexertion.
7. Cool down with a slow jog or walk. It helps in recovery.

Who should avoid running?

People with certain health conditions should avoid running.

1. Those with severe joint problems, such as arthritis, running can exacerbate pain and damage.
2. People with heart conditions or respiratory issues should consult a doctor before including running in their fitness routine.
3. Those recovering from injuries or surgeries, especially those involving the lower body, should avoid running until fully healed.
4. Pregnant women should seek medical advice before running.

To reap the benefits of running, consistency is key. So, go running every day!

#health #benefits #running

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