It has been said that exercise is better than medicine. But, it’s not not just something people say. There is a mountain of research that endorses regular exercise as a vital part of leading a long and healthy life.
In fact, studies show that running can not only prevent but also treat chronic conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity and even some cancers!
Scientists have also shown that running has positive effects on our mental and emotional state, helping you to live longer. Here’s how:
1. Running Improves Your Mood
No matter how good or bad you feel, exercise will make you feel better. That’s what a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise revealed. And it’s not just that runner’s high that they’re talking about. Researchers found that even a short session of exercise, such as 30 minutes of walking, could lift the mood of anyone, even those patients suffering from depressive illnesses.
Keep that in mind on those mornings when you have to almost throw yourself out of the front door!
Moderate exercise can also help those with stress and anxiety disorders, even after they’ve finished a workout. In fact, a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that you could improve your mood, sleep quality and concentration simply by running for 30 minutes throughout the week for a period of three weeks.
2. Running Helps to Decrease Cravings
In another scientific finding, a research team showed running lead to a decreased craving of drugs, alcohol and even addictive food substances.
During the test, participants ran for one hour then were offered a range of food choices. Participants tended to choose vegetables over the junk food offered.
The results were the same when marijuana was offered in place of the the junk food. The daily marijuana users reportedly experienced a steep declines in their daily use and the intensity of their cravings.
3. Running Strengthens Your Knees Bones and Joints
“Running is bad for your knees.” We’ve all heard it, however, it’s simply not true. Running not only helps to slow down bone loss as we age. It is also known to increase bone mass over time.
“We know from many long-term studies that running doesn’t appear to cause much damage to the knees,” Felson said. “When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don’t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don’t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected.”
4. Running Protects the Brain From Aging
According to Time Magazine, running is shown to slow the aging process of the brain. The experiment saw scientists test two types of activity to determine which was better for the brain over time: brain games and physical exercise.
The results showed that physical exercise such as running and other cardio showed a lower rate of brain age and mental decline in the elderly.
5. Running is Great for Your Heart
Did you know that running for even ten minutes a day can drastically reduce your risk of dying from heart disease? According to this study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology those who run regularly have half the chance of dying from heart disease than those who never run.
6. Running Helps in Working Out the Core
Running as an exercise is important for working out not only the abs but also for your stabilizing muscles such as those in the lower back and deeper within the core. These muscles are responsible for maintaining a good posture, stabilizing your spine and managing the transfer of energy between your arms and legs in motion.
7. Running Burns Calories
Running requires more fuel than other exercises, meaning more calories are burned more quickly. In fact, according to The American Council on Exercise, the average person running a 10-minute mile on flat ground can burn around 11.4 calories per minute!
While this number will vary depending on a number of factors, such as body composition, weight and height, it is a number than can be adjusted by simply running further and harder for longer. Best of all, you don’t need any equipment to continually challenge yourself! Just your own two legs and a decent pair of running shoes.
8. Running Improves Balance in Aging
While too much exercise can lead to bone loss and stress injuries, seasoned athletes are possess an advantage over those who don’t exercise. As we have already discussed, running improves knee health and aids in strengthening the attached tendons and muscles.
This stability means that as runners age, their stability remains strong and their balance, even at an old age, can help in preventing falls and broken joints such as are usually suffered by the elderly.
9. Running Improves Lung Conditions Such as Asthma
A recent study published in the “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine” reported that cardio such as running can “improve asthma control significantly.”
For some, asthma can be initially be exacerbated by exercise. But for others it can become a means for improving and controlling their condition, as well as strengthening the breathing muscles and improving lung health in general over time.
If you suffer from asthma, speak with your doctor before taking on a new exercise regime.
10. Running Boosts Self-Esteem
In a study carried out on adolescent girls showed that after the participants ran laps, they exhibited higher levels of self-esteem. “Those who ran more laps at a faster pace achieved higher scores than those who ran less or didn’t run at all.
Overweight children who also participated in moderate exercise also exhibited the same increase in self-esteem than those who didn’t run.
There are so many health benefits to starting a running regime. If you’re ready to get started, The Starting Line recommends that you “spend at least two weeks walking or doing some other form of exercise (like using a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer) on a regular basis—roughly 30 minutes per day, four or five days per week.” Then build up slowly.
Start with runs blended with walks and ignore the urge to run as far and as fast as you can from the outset. This way you can build a strong core and develop your technique over time, meaning less risk of injury and a higher likelihood that you’ll enjoy your running journey for many years to come.