Updated: May 18
Most people either thoroughly enjoy running or avoid it like the plague. Despite the obvious benefits running is often viewed as chore, an exercise that requires significant effort, discomfort and at times pain. Running can be boring for some and is often avoided by a lot of Men, who usually have the goal of bulking up rather than actual fitness. Although I felt like a natural runner from a young age and have enjoyed running for most of my life, I still have a love hate relationship with it. It feels amazing to be fit and have great cardiovascular fitness, but it can take a while to reach such a level. Running comes in different forms and can be approached in a number of ways, so it is possible to keep it interesting. Whether you love or hate running, the benefits of running cannot be denied. Some of the benefits include:-
Building stronger bones- The human body has the ability to adapt and condition itself organically to whatever resistance is applied. The impact caused by running has a positive affect on our bone density, contrary to what many believe. Of course it is important to acknowledge individual limitations and health issues prior to engaging in a running routine, but by avoiding running altogether you may be doing yourself a disservice.
Strengthens muscle- Running obviously strengthens the muscles in our legs and conditions them to tolerate greater load and stress. How you run also impacts your results. Endurance running builds muscular and cardio endurance, while sprinting builds power which requires greater muscle tone and mass, in most cases.
Improved cardiovascular fitness- The cardiovascular system is one of the most important systems within the human body and so it makes sense that a stronger cardiovascular systems means greater health and vitality. A stronger and more efficient heart is well worth the effort.
Burns plenty of calories- Most people will be happy to know that running burns calories. It is an easy, no fuss approach to weight loss. Unlike other exercises and exercise routines, running requires little thought or structure, it is something you can simply do and comes naturally for almost all people.
Maintains healthy weight- As previously mentioned, running burns calories and is also an easy way to maintain a healthy weight range. The human body is forced to adapt to the conditions imposed upon it, therefore, in most cases, an overweight body cannot be maintained when one engages in a consistent running routine.
It acts as an Antidepressant- Running like other types of exercise, helps to regulate our mood by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters. Endorphins as well as other positive neurotransmitters counteract negative thoughts and emotions by injecting a burst of positive chemicals, that can actually be felt and noticed by the individual. I can attest to the powerful mood regulating benefits of running, as I have used it to maintain a stable emotional mindset throughout my life. Without exercise, whether it be running or otherwise, I generally experience lower moods.
Meditation- Yes running can be meditative in effect. The reason running can have such an effect is due to the nature of running as an exercise. Running is a natural movement, requiring minimal conscious thought, which allows ones mind to wander into a state of mindfulness. Endurance running in particular allows the mind to wander, which takes us away from conscious emotion, worry and negative feelings.
Reduce stress- The combination of benefits stemming from running has the added bonus of reducing general stress. Running and exercise in general reduces mental, emotional and physical stress by improving brain and body function.