The Benefits of Running
by Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D.
Running. What a marvelous way to get into shape and keep in shape. When someone mentions a runner’s body, everyone has a clear image of what that looks like. If you are out of shape and imagine yourself with a runner’s body, it is a great motivator.
At first, it takes much motivation to start running. It is much work and not very rewarding to our senses. However, with time and commitment running gets easier and easier. Running is all about endurance. Often as you endure some pain, it will leave. Over time, as you endure shortness of breath, your breath will become longer. The more and longer you run, the stronger your body will get. The stronger your body gets, the longer you can run. Running is often pleasing to most people who have done it for a while. Some people even get addicted to it.
We never advocate that people get addicted to running, but we do recommend it as an inexpensive way to get your body in shape and as part of a healthy life style. We recommend all types of physical exercise as a way to improve health and well being. Running is a very popular and productive way to exercise.
If you have never ran before, we recommend that you start off small. Set a goal for three times a week. It can be everyday, but to start off, we recommend every other day. When you run, it is ok to run a very short distance. With time your distances will increase. The important thing is to be consistent in your running. And if you stick with it, you will get a runner’s body.
If you need more information, or more motivation, here is a list of our favorite reasons for running.
1. Running improves mood. Since the people at Your Family Clinic, LLC are all about mental health, this is our first benefit listed. Shortly after you run, your body releases “feel good” hormones such as endorphins and endocannabinoids. These hormones can relieve depression. Studies suggest that running can be as effective or more effective in relieving depression than anti-depressive medications. When you are depressed it is very difficult to get motivated to run. We suggest that you use all your motivational techniques (e.g., make yourself do it, reward yourself for getting started, make it easy by not running so long, make commitments, get a support group) to get running on a regular basis (e.g., three times per week). Within in a couple of weeks of running regular, you should feel much better than you do now.
2. Running improves physical health. Running is an aerobic exercise. Studies suggest that running for 5 to 10 minutes a day, even at low speeds (e.g., jogging a 12 minute mile) can drastically reduce the likelihood of dying from a cardio-vascular illness. Running helps lower the heart’s resting heart beat which is believed to help towards living longer. Since the heart is a muscle, as it beats fast during a run, it is receiving exercise and like most muscles that get exercise, the heart become stronger and healthier. Studies even show that running is good for your joints, especially your hips and knees. Most people think the opposite is true, but research confirms that hips and knees and other joints actually strengthen with running. Even people who run 26 miles at a time are less likely to get osteroarthritis. When compared to people who swim, the bones and joints of runners are healthier.
3. Running burns off calories. Calories from food are easy to obtain and appear to be difficult to burn off. For example, one ice cream Sunday cone (e.g., Drumstick) has 284 calories. According to the Calories Burned Running Calculator, if you run a half a mile and it took you 10 minutes to do so and you weighted 200 lbs, you only burn off 76 calories. Running a 10-minute mile, the average person weighing 150 lbs will burn about 12.2 calories per minute. However, running burns off more calories than many other activities. The faster and longer you run, the more calories your body burns off.
4. Running firms you up. This is the runner’s body I was talking about earlier. Your body’s largest muscles are in your legs and running benefits all of them. Running even helps your core muscles. The muscles around your abdomen receive a workout during your run. Eventually, your body will be fit and trim. As you run, your body will get it’s pleasure from running and will not want this pleasure from overeating. If you pay attention to your body’s need to eat less, and if you continue to run regularly you will develop that runner’s body.
5. Running is cost effective and readily available. Unlike swimming, playing basketball and lifting weights, running does not cost much to do and is available for you where ever you are at. You do not have to purchase a gym membership to run. You can run in a gym but you can also run just about anywhere inside or outside. You can run on the street, run on a tread mill, or do circles around your yard. I happen to have 4 acres of land that I can run the perimeter. Three times around my property is a little more than a mile. Even running many times around your house is feasible for most people.
6. Running can be used as a coping skill. Running around your house may sound to some people a silly ideal, but it can be a great technique for anger management. When you are angry you have much energy. That negative energy can be channeled into a positive outlet through running. Within a few minutes your body will release those “feel good” hormones and you will have time to realize that what ever made you angry was probably not such a big deal after all. If it was a big deal, running gives you time to think of better solutions for that big deal. Running also has been shown to reduce your chances of developing tension headaches.
7. As a group, runners are friendly and productive people. If you get a chance, hang around some runners. There are runners in your community. You can join a running club, a charity’s running team, or attend the local 5K, 10K or marathon run. To improve your social life, hang around the winners. Runners are usually a great bunch of winners to hang out with.
We hope you find some way of staying healthy with exercise. Running is just one way to exercise. There are many, many more ways to use exercise to stay healthy. Exercise is one component of a healthy lifestyle. If you enjoy running, please visit our sponsor for this page: Jack Rabbit Sports.
A couple of references:
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jul;45(7):1292-7. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182885f26.
Effects of running and walking on osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk., Williams PT1.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 64, Issue 5, August 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058, Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk Duck-chul Lee, Russell R. Pate, Carl J. Lavie, Xuemei Sui, Timothy S. Church and Steven N. Blair
The photograph was by Tikkho Maciel on Unsplash. We thank Tikkho for the photograph.
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