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Running is a great form of cardio exercise, but its benefits aren't just limited to physical health. Did you know running, along with many other forms of exercise, has proven benefits to mental health? With a rise in awareness of mental health issues this has become a great reason to try out running.
Physical Benefits of Running:
Weight Loss and Weight Management
Like most cardio based exercises you burn calories when you run. The aerobic workout is great for getting the heart rate pumping and the sweat dripping. Just run for 15-30 minutes and you could be burning between 200-500 calories.
Plus, after your run, your body enters EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). In this state your body takes energy found in fats and carbohydrates to repair muscle. This can last up to 48 hours and you burn fat the whole time!!
Which is great right after the Easter weekend when we have all stuffed our faces with glorious chocolate eggs! (I know I have...)
Increased Bone and Knee Strength
It's likely you've heard people say, "Running is bad for the knees." Well, science says other wise. Running has actually proven to benefit your knees. Like most things in exercise, form is key and poor form is the cause of this myth. It's important not to pound your feet as you run. The NHS says the best part of the foot to land on is the middle to avoid injury.
Since running involves contact with the ground, vibrations are sent up your legs. This can cause very very small fractures in the bone, so when the bone heals from these it becomes stronger and harder. This way, running can help develop bone mass and make the bones in your legs harder.
Running is an exercise that can really get the heart going, and, like all muscles, this helps it to grow stronger. Partnered with the correct rest, running can lead to a bigger heart. The growth in the heart has many healthy benefits for your body.
A thicker left ventricle means the heart becomes more efficient in pumping larger volumes of blood. This is what causes many runners and other athletes to have a lower resting heart rate, as well as lower blood pressure.
As well as the physical benefits, running has proven to have other benefits on your body that aren't just physical. Things like mental and emotional states can be helped with running, as well as long term health benefits.
Exercise makes you happy.
I know sometimes the thought of exercise doesn't make us happy, but we all know that when you start training all your problems just go away. Running is no exception, in fact the term "runners high" is used to describe this exact event.
Running, along with other forms of exercise, causes your body to release hormones known as endocannabinoids, and these are what make us feel good. A study by James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D., Patrick J. Smith, Ph.D., and Benson M. Hoffman, Ph.D, found that exercise proved to lift the mood of people suffering from depression.
A study was conducted to see how running could help with a better nights sleep. The study used 51 people, whose average age was 18, half of whom ran in the morning. The results not only showed that the running group slept better than the control group. It also showed that mood and concentration was increased in the day and sleepiness decreased in the running group.
So running has been proven to help you get a good nights sleep, which can improve your productiveness during the day. This can benefit your work life as well.
It's surprising to think, but those who run are actually pretty clever. And those who run long distances are likely to be the smartest of the bunch. Research suggests that running can assist in fueling your memory and learning. A study involving 24 people had them complete four experiments all involving memorising words. They first completed this sedentary, then walking briskly before, then walking briskly during and finally walking briskly after. The group that exercised before the test was shown to have the best short term memory.
As well as just benefiting your short term memory, studies have shown that regular exercise has been associated with a lowered risk of dementia. The study was performed on 7,501 Chinese people aged 65 or older. It lasted a total of nine years, and after nine years it was shown that only 338 of the 7,501 had developed dementia.
I'm not saying that running is the best form of exercise there is, but it definitely has its benefits. However, it's a lot like marmite, you either love it or you hate it. So if running isn't for you don't worry, there are loads of other ways to keep fit and reap the benefits. I normally suggest HIIT for those who don't like running but want similar benefits, and if you want to know more about HIIT you should check out my HIIT at home article!!
Running has some great benefits to both your body and mind, and is something I recommend to my clients to keep healthy and help them achieve weight loss goals.
Thank you very much for reading and I hope this has given you a more detailed insight into the benefits of running. And if you have any questions please email me at [email protected] or you can drop me a DM on Instagram.
Written by Joshua Herbert at www.joshpt.co.uk
If you're interested in personal training, but you're put off by the price or you cannot sort out a time that suits you and a trainer, you could consider online personal training. I offer online services for affordable prices and at a time that suits you. My six-week online programs include personalised workouts, nutritional assistance, email support and access to videos of every exercise!! So if you want a cheaper, yet still professional service, check out my website.