Running is one of those sports that tends to get a bad rap for being notoriously tough on the body, from knee injuries to pulled or strained tendons, but believe it or not, running is actually a great way to increase your overall level of health. In addition to staying in shape, running offers a variety of emotional, mental, and physical benefits. Here is a list of eight benefits of running you may not know and how it can positively affect your mind, body, and spirit.
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health
While running, your heart pumps greater amounts of blood and oxygen to your working muscles, causing your heart rate to rise. Over time, this increase in activity and blood flow improves your heart’s efficiency, resulting in a lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. Studies show that you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by jogging for just 5–10 minutes a day. Your heart rate isn’t the only benefit of running. In addition to lowering triglycerides and improving blood pressure, it also increases HDL (good cholesterol), which helps to keep the heart healthy.
2. Strengthens Healthy Knees
While running has long been thought to hurt knees due to all that pounding and rattling, it might actually benefit the complex and critical joint. However, there are some limitations, especially for people with significant knee injuries or obesity. But for the most part, researchers say that a light running regimen may actually strengthen healthy knees. Running with a supportive knee sleeve can help to stabilize and prevent injuries.
3. Improves Memory
According to research, just 15 minutes of running at a time can benefit cognition for years to come. Running contributes to the growth of new cells in the area of the brain, which in turn boosts memory. Additionally, it can make you more attentive. Running protects the brain from stress and aging-related damage.
4. Helps Promote Weight Loss
It is well-known that inactivity plays a major role in obesity and weight gain as the body’s metabolic rate is lowered. A slow metabolic rate does not burn as many calories, and any food eaten is stored as fat, hence leading to weight gain. Running increases the body’s metabolic rate, which in turn burns calories and helps with weight loss. Remember, excess weights can put added stress on your joints, particularly knees, causing joint pain and even injury. Wearing a high-quality knee sleeve can help alleviate pain and prevent more damage.
5. Improves Your Immunity
Running or jogging promotes the production of white blood cells and antibodies in the body. Since these antibodies protect your body, you are less likely to develop frequent diseases. Running for health also prevents your body from developing short-term illnesses like upper respiratory infections. Exercise can also help decrease chronic inflammation, improving your immune system.
6. Improves Sleep
Aerobic exercises, like running, improve your sleep. It takes a lot of energy to engage in intense physical activity. Running can fatigue your body, reducing your sleep latency. Sleep latency is the duration of time it takes to fall asleep once you have gone to bed and turned off the lights. Regular exercise usually gets you to sleep minutes after you lie down, which ensures that you get the rest you need. In addition, exercise also promotes deep sleep phases, which are the most restorative sleep stages. As a result of these slow-wave sleep phases, you are less likely to wake up due to interruptions; thus, your sleep quality improves. Proper sleep is necessary to repair your body overnight.
7. Relieves Stress
Running for 30 minutes a day can help you relieve stress and boost your mood when you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It is a great way to reduce stress because when you move, your body produces endorphins, which elevate your mood. In addition to releasing endorphins, running can also help control cortisol levels, the known stress hormone that we all have. So throw on a protective knee sleeve and hit the road!
8. Reduces Symptoms of Depression
When you run, your body releases endorphins. As endorphins interact with pain receptors in the brain, they reduce the perception of pain. Known as “runner’s high,” this feeling increases your sense of positivity and helps reduce mental illness symptoms. In addition to enhancing your mood, exercise can also boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. Furthermore, other bodily changes, such as reduced muscle tension and increased blood flow to the brain, contribute to the feeling of well-being.
Time to Get Started
Running takes practice, so don’t expect to run several miles on your first outing. Try fast walking, then jogging, and then running as your stamina improves. Three times a week, try to walk, jog, or run for 30 minutes, with a day off in between. In as little as six weeks, your stamina should improve. Over time, you will notice that you are able to run longer distances or faster than when you first started.
Trying to overdue it may result in injury. Take some protective measures by wearing a supportive knee sleeve before you set out. Remember, you don’t need to be a marathon runner to reap the benefits running can have on improving your health every little bit makes a difference!