Running

35 Amazing Health Benefits of Running, According to Science (+10 Tips for Beginners)

Running or jogging are both forms of aerobic exercises and as such present the body with quite a number of amazing health benefits. The difference between jogging and running is basically the intensity and the speed in which they are done.

Running is different from jogging in that it requires more effort from the heart, muscles, and lungs.

Running also requires an individual to be at a higher level of fitness than jogging does and burns more calories than jogging (1). 

1.      Running can help improve your cardiovascular health

Running has been shown to be an excellent means of keeping the cardiovascular system in a good condition. As earlier mentioned, running is an aerobic exercise which uses up the fatty acids and the carbohydrates in the diet for energy needed during the activity.

A characteristic runner usually has a slow resting pulse rate and an inversely high utmost consumption of oxygen. Studies on the heart have shown that people who run for distances have more defined, thicker left ventricles as compared to sedentary people (2). Their hearts pump a larger volume of blood per heartbeat and are more efficient than the hearts of sedentary people. Running also has progressive effects on a lot of coronary risk factors, which is a possible explanation as to why chronic endurance exercise is usually linked with lower rates of coronary death (2).

Bottom Line: Running is a highly effective coronary exercise which helps to use up fatty acids and carbohydrates. It generally promotes good cardiac health and prevents coronary death.

2.      Running can help improve one’s mood

Those people who have been running agree that running generally alleviates their mood regardless of what they are feeling before running. As a matter of fact, some people use running purposely to improve their mood and it is even recommended by some therapists. This is not only because of the common condition known as “runner's high” which is caused by the rush of feel-good hormones called endocannabinoids.

One study(3), which was published in the journal called Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, showed findings by the researchers that even a single instance of simple exercise such as walking on the treadmill for half an hour could instantly uplift the mood for an individual suffering from a major disorder of depression.

Bottom Line: Running helps to improve the mood of an individual regardless of the preceding mood. The activity also helps to improve the mood of an individual by inducing the production of feel-good hormones which cause the effect usually referred to as the “runner’s high”.

3.      Running can assist in strengthening the Joints

Contrary to popular belief, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that running does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis, even for people who run for very long distances.

Surprisingly, the study showed that people who ran had a 50% less chance of suffering from knee osteoarthritis as compared to those who walked. A explained by one exercise physiologist, every time the foot lands on the ground when running, the bones and cartilage are stressed, just like the muscles. This causes them to spring back stronger, which is a benefit for the runner. Low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming do not provide the individual with this benefit.

Bottom Line: Running does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis as had been thought before, a study showed that it actually reduces the risk of osteoarthritis by half. It also helps to strengthen the bones and the cartilage.

4.      Running can help in Burning of calories

The activity of running requires a lot of calories which act as the fuel for the runner. Therefore, running burns up a lot of calories. According to The American Council on Exercise (4), about 11.4 calories per minute can be burned by the average person at 120-pounds by just running a 10-minute mile on a flat terrain and on a calm day. However, this number varies depending on an individual and a number of other factors such as the body weight. This number can also be adjusted accordingly by running at a higher pace, running on a rough terrain or running against the wind – all which increase the number of calories burned.

Bottom Line: Running helps to burn up calories at an average rate of 11.4 calories per minute with standard conditions of an individual weighing 120 pounds running on a flat terrain and on a calm day at the pace of one mile in 10 minutes.

5.      Running helps promote proper Leg workouts

All the body's biggest muscles are located in the legs. Running majorly involves the legs and works out all of these muscles, benefiting all of them. All the muscles including the inner and the outer thighs, the gluteus maximus found on the backside, the quads, the hamstrings, and the calves get worked out during the process of running. Running is, therefore, a great remedy for collective leg muscle workout.

Bottom Line: Most of the biggest muscles in the body are located in the legs and running as works out all of them, making it an ideal leg workout practice.

6.      Running helps in working out the core

Running as an exercise is important for working out not only the abs known as the rectus abdominis but also muscles which are found deeper in the core such as the erector spinae, obliques and the transverse abdominis, which are the muscles that perform the role of sucking in the gut, making the spine more stable and handling the transfer of energy between the swinging arms and the legs.

Running therefore helps to work out a great percentage of the muscles found in the core and thus it is a good core workout. One study showed through electronic imaging showed that the external obliques were the abdominal muscles mainly engaged when running alongside the other stabilizing muscles of the trunk, located in the middle and the lower back, as published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism in the year 2009 (5). Hence, running can be rightly be considered as one efficient collective exercise with multiple benefits both to the cardiovascular system and to the trunk.

Bottom Line: Running helps to exercise the core and most of the muscles found in the trunk.

7.      Running is ideal for a general workout

Running is also good for general body to work out because as mentioned, it is a highly intense aerobic activity which works out a lot – if not all – of the muscles in the body besides the fact that it is also a good mood improver. Running can be adopted as a basic workout routine and the results are just as amazing.

People who run a lot have healthier bodies and get to gain from all the benefits that come along with the exercise. It is also suitable since it does not require one to belong to any gym, use up a lot of time, or learn how to do it. Therefore it easily fits into your schedule.

Bottom Line: Running can be adopted as a general workout routine since it gives the individual the chance of gaining from all the benefits of running and works out a lot of the muscles in the body.

8.      Running can help promote meditation

When running, many people find the chance to concentrate and focus on themselves. They also get to think about situations which are posing challenges to them and consequently come up with solutions to them. Coupled with the ability to run to induce production of feel-good hormones.

Also, running helps one to take some time away from stressful activities which is beneficial also in depression management (6). Recent studies show that meditation helps to boost the gray matter, fight depression and anxiety and improve focus. Therefore, running counting as meditation helps the individual to enjoy the benefits that come along with meditation.

Bottom Line: Running helps people to focus on themselves and to find solutions to the challenges they might be facing. It also helps to get some time away from depressing situations and thus offers some relief.

9.      Running can help promote weight loss

There are studies which have shown that inactivity is a major factor which contributes to obesity and weight gain (7, 8). In order to comprehend how running contributes to weight loss, it is important to first appreciate the relationship between the use of energy in the body and exercise.

Energy is spent by the body through food digestion, exercising and maintenance of body functions such as breathing and heartbeat. Metabolic rate is lowered by reduced calorie intake which is experienced when one is dieting. This lowering of the metabolic rate slows down weight loss. In contrast, running increases the metabolic rate and consequently burns up more calories and help the individual to lose weight (9).

Bottom Line: Running increases the rate of metabolism and helps to burn up more calories which speeds up weight loss. On the contrary, dieting causes a slower metabolic rate caused by reduced calorie intake.

10.  Running helps improve the health of bones and the muscles

Another major benefit of running is the building and maintenance of strong bones and muscles. When coupled with adequate intake of proteins, running can help build up some muscles.

Depending on the intensity, running can be quite a strenuous exercise which can sometimes lead to serious injuries and even disabilities at times. It is good to some physical exercises running to avoid getting injuries caused by straining. It also reduces muscle loss which results from aging. In addition to that, running helps to maintain the strength of a person as one ages.

For young people, running increases the bone density and also helps to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis when age kicks in (10). As a matter of fact, exercises of a high impact such as running or even odd–impact sports such as soccer and basketball have been shown to promote more increase in bone density than sports like cycling and swimming which are considered to be low-impact sports (11).

Bottom Line: Running helps to maintain strong bones and muscles especially when coupled with adequate protein intake. It also helps to increase bone density in young people and prevent osteoporosis at a later stage.

11.  Running can help increase energy levels

For those suffering from various medical conditions as well as those who are healthy, running can be a very good energy booster (12). One study found that regular exercises carried out for six weeks on a regular basis reduced the feeling of fatigue for a number of people who had reported persistent fatigue (13).

More so, energy levels for people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other serious ailments can be significantly increased through exercises. Actually, exercising has proven to be more fruitful at fighting chronic fatigue syndrome than any other treatments such as relaxation and stretching and other passive therapies. Running, being a form of exercise itself can offer these benefits to by helping to increase the energy levels of the individuals. Running as an exercise has also been shown by studies increase the energy levels of people who suffer from progressive illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS (14).

Bottom Line: Running regularly can increase the energy levels for healthy people, people suffering from medical conditions and even those who suffer from serious diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and even HIV/AIDS.

12.  Running reduces risk of chronic disease

One main cause of chronic disease is the lack of regular physical activity (15) such as running. Regular physical activity has been proven to help improve the sensitivity to insulin, improve the cardiovascular health and the body composition, and at the same time reduce blood pressure and blood fat levels.

The absence of regular exercise, short-term or none at all thereof, can cause a major belly fat increase which is a predisposing factor that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and shortens the life of an individual by causing early deaths. Due to this, it is recommended to do some physical exercise daily so as to reduce belly fat and lower the risk of developing the mentioned diseases (16). Running can help achieve this since it is also an exercise.

Bottom Line: Regular physical exercise in form of running can help one to maintain proper body weight which significantly lowers the risk of chronic diseases.

13.  Running helps skin health

The amount of oxidative stress in the body usually can affect the skin. As such, this may lead to deterioration of the skin due to damage of the internal structures. This oxidative stress usually occurs when the antioxidant defenses of the body cannot repair the cells damaged by free radicals completely.

Regular and moderate exercises such as running can help to increases the body’s production of natural antioxidants which helps to protect the cells (17). However, caution should be practiced because intense and exhaustive physical exercise can itself cause oxidative damage. Running can fuel blood flow and induce adaptations of the skin cells which help to delay the appearance of the aging of the skin (18).

Bottom Line: Moderate physical exercise can provide the body with antioxidant protection and also promote blood flow, which protects the skin and slows the appearance of skin aging. However, intense physical activity can cause oxidative damage.

14.  Running helps in improving brain and memory health

Running can help to improve the functioning of the brain and improve one's mental performance. The exercise also helps to improve the memory and cognitive skills. First, running increases the rate of beating of the heart, consequently increasing the amount of blood flowing to the brain and thus more oxygen flows to the brain.

Running can induce the production of hormones that can promote the growth of brain cells. Furthermore, since running helps to prevent chronic disease can also mean benefits to the brain since its functioning is affected by these diseases (19).

Aging, in combination with oxidative stress and inflammation, is usually associated with changes in the structural and functional characterization of the brain. Physical exercise has been proven to increase the size of the hippocampus which is the part of the brain which is critical in the process of learning and in memory. The increase in the size of this part of the brain translates to the increase of mental function in older adults.

Bottom Line: Running increase the blood flow to the brain and this helps to boost the brain structurally and functionally. It also improves the memory and the learning functionality in older people.

15.  Running improves the quality of sleep and helps in relaxation

Regular physical exercise can help an individual to rest better and to have good sleep (20). In regards to the quality of sleep, the energy depletion which happens when running induces recuperative processes to happen during sleep.

Furthermore, it is believed that the increase in the body temperature which is experience when running assists one to sleep because it helps the temperature to drop during sleep. A lot of studies which focus on the effects of exercises on sleep also come to similar conclusions. Running regularly also appears to have benefits for elderly people who are the most common victims of sleep disorders (21).

Bottom Line: Regular physical activity like running can help in getting better sleep and feeling more energetic when awake.

16.  Running reduces pain

Usually, chronic pain can be very agonizing. However, running can help reduce the pain. For a long time, rest and inactivity have been the main remedy for chronic pain. However, recent research has shown that exercising helps in relief of chronic pain (22). Several studies show that physical exercise actually helps to reduce pain for people experiencing chronic pain and also improves their quality of life (22). Other related studies have shown that exercise can help in controlling the pain caused by the various health conditions such as fibromyalgia,

17.  Running increases the learning abilities

According to (23) study carried out in a journal by the name Neurobiology of learning and memory, systemic running improves someone's capacity to learn and retain the new information fed into his/her brain. This was more effective in the case of high-intensity running where the health benefits seemed to increase as the running proceeded each time.

The study, however, proved that low-intensity learning also played a part in the process as both acted as boosts to the levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. In addition, the two also boosted the neurotransmitter catecholamine which is highly associated with the brain's learning and retention functions.

Bottom line: Running regularly plays a great role in the increment of the learning abilities.

18.  Running protects the brain from aging

Scientists have proved that running buffers against the aging effects of the brain (23). They experimented different exercises which were better in the regulation and they came to a conclusion those different physical exercises and more specifically aerobic activities which include running were retained as the best forms. This is because they showed lower rates of shrinking of the brain and cognitive decline in subjects who were physically active. The test was on the basis of brain scans performed on the different sample subjects representing various brain games.

Bottom line: Running aids in the prevention of brain aging and therefore increasing its lifespan to perform various activities for longer periods.

19.  Running helps to decrease cravings for unhealthy foods and substances

In another scientific finding, running aided in the decrease of cravings which were either as a result of some drugs such as alcohol or even food substances (24). A test was carried out and after a one hour running the different participants in most cases opted for some healthy diet which included the vegetables over the junk food. In another case, results were similar when marijuana replaced the junk food and the users of the substance proclaimed that they experienced a fast decline in both the cravings and the initial daily use.

This was so after just a few short sessions of running especially on a treadmill. Research appearing in Frontiers of Psychiatry has also proven that running not only reduces the cravings for marijuana only but also other drugs involving cocaine, alcohol or nicotine.

Bottom line: Constant running helps in the decline of cravings for different unhealthy foods and substances in most cases.

20.  Running increases creativity

Intriguingly, there is an increment in the level of creativity as the running process is maintained in normal human beings (25). According to a study carried out by the British journal of sports medicine, there were increased scores in creative thinking by participants who took part in the running activities. The finding provided the evidence to a link between running and increased levels of human creativity as provided by the insider report of 2016 article in the in business. The study made an approval that the opportunity of the brain activeness was directly proportional to the running process.

Bottom line: Human creativity is determined by the personal activeness and the activities that his/her body performs.

21.  Running reduces stress

Research has well proven that mental stress is a common issue for most people who are often busy nowadays. Further studies have shown that a 20 to 30 minutes’ walk or running session every day helps in reduction of mental stress to some (26). It is also said to have the same effect that a mild tranquilizer has to a human body. Running triggers the mind to shift the thoughts from something disturbing to brain activeness as in various scientific journals.

Bottom line: Science has adequate evidence to prove that running acts as an effective method of relieving stress as discussed.

22.  Running increases an individual’s sex life

Daily walking and running basically improve one's lifestyle and muscle strength. In addition, both help in improving mind-body coordination and sex drive in both the male and the female gender (26). The exercise had a responded positively to the increment of sex drive of men as well as the sexual arousal of women. It was also found to increase the body awareness which in turn was also responsible for the sexual arousal increment. Since there is also an increase in one’s self-esteem, an impact which comes exercise is built and consequently affecting the sex drive for women and men particularly.

Bottom line: Both running and walking as parts of body exercises help in increasing the sex drive as a health benefit to the participants.

23.  Running relieves menopause symptoms

There was a scientific study carried out specifically on women at the ages between 55 and 72 years to collect data on the menopause (27). According to the research, those involved themselves in regular running exercises showed fewer menopause symptoms as compared to those who did not take part in exercises.

Bottom line: Running and regular exercises have a benefit of reducing the menopause symptoms on women.

24.  Running reduces someone’s risk of cancer

A scientific research shows that the reduction of the risk of cancer is directly linked to the physical activities that one takes part in. There is a twenty-four chance lower that someone might contract colon cancer if he/she is active as affirmed by the Journal of Carcinogenesis and mutagenesis (28). In cases of women, the contraction risk of breast cancer is lowered as they become active.

Different exercises lower the hormonal level of insulin, estrogen and some other growth factors that increase the risk of cancer attack. The exercises also improve the digestion rate and therefore help in the lowering of stomach and tract cancers. Running and walking aid in increasing the amount of the oxygen flow in the body and hence reduce cancer attack in body parts.

Bottom line: Running plays an important role in declining the levels of cancer attack among people.

25.  Running increases the lifespan of a human being

According to different studies, running is a major factor that helps to extend people’s lives as well as making them feel better (29). The researches carried out on various participants which include the athletes show that running, jogging and walking help them to freely move for long periods of time. Running also plays a role in improving the athletes' lives and therefore acting as a control to various lifestyle diseases.

Bottom line: Running makes a great contribution to the improvement of different people’s lives as well as lengthening their lifespan.

26.  Running increases the functioning of the lungs

According to scientists, the exercise that someone achieves from either running or brisk walking greatly increases the workload of the lungs (30). This triggers the sympathetic nerves to stimulate the respiratory muscles of the subject so that he/she can increase the breathing rate. It is also proven that the byproducts released from the muscles which include lactic acid, carbon dioxide and hydrogen help the respiratory nerves located in the brainstem to be stimulated. The process then stimulated the respiratory muscles resulting in a slight blood pressure elevation more air sacs in the lungs for the purpose of blood floor. This process helps in improving the oxygen capacity in the lungs and in turn the whole body.

Bottom line: Running and other exercises help in increasing the functioning of the lungs and in turn acts as a control to respiratory diseases.

27.  Running helps in assimilation of vitamin D

Some outdoor exercises which include running and walking aid in exposing the skin to the sunlight which in turn accumulates vitamin D as published in the Nutrition research. Studies carried out earlier proved that people experienced doldrums on rainy days which significantly helped to show the need for vitamin D from sunlight (30).

According to scientists, daily walking and running act as an exposure of the skin to sunlight and therefore improving the access of vitamin D. It was also found that the participants extra relaxation since the vitamin also worked on mood improvement. There is no need for prolonged exposure of the skin to the sun because a thirty-minute walk or run daily was enough to improve the vitamin level.

Bottom line: Running as one of the outdoor activities helps to boost vitamin D levels in the body due to a continuous exposure of the skin to the sun.

28.  Running helps to improve balance

Too much exercise of any form is considered as unhealthy and leads to stress injuries and bone loss (31). However, according to scientists, athletes are at a higher advantage of protecting their knees and the muscle tendons. This therefore means that they maintain their balance even at an old age and therefore reducing the likelihood of falling and breaking of joints such as the hip joint.

Running also helps to improve the stamina which also plays a role in balance maintenance.

Bottom line: Running helps to keep balance reducing the risk of falling which significantly reduces bone and joint breakage resulting from fall impact.

29.  Running helps to get rid of beer belly

As someone gets older, pounds tend to begin tacking especially onto the beer consumers’ bodies especially in women (31). In a study that was published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, more than a hundred participants were studied. The results affirmed that the participants who ran a distance of more than 35 miles a week had lower weight values around their abdomen than the people who only ran for less than 9 miles.

Bottom line: Upon the results of the study, it is clearly evident that frequent running aids in the control of the beer belly by reducing the abdominal fat which in most cases result to an increased probability of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

30.  Running fights off common cold

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who practiced the running process suffered from colds at a forty-three percent than those who never bothered to follow the regiment. In addition to this, whenever the athletes did catch a cold, their signs and symptoms were less severe than normal. The study also proved that thirty minutes’ walk or run was a great measure that helped to stimulate the immune system to fight off cold that is lately coming on (32).

Bottom line: Cold can be fought by a less than an hour time span of running whenever the first symptoms appear.

31.  Running reduces depression

According to a study that was published in the ACM's Health and Fitness Journal earlier in 2013, participants were required to exercise to improve depression. The findings of the study demonstrated that exercising and particularly running was an effective treatment for depression. Observation studies have also suggested that people who are active have a less probability of being depressed.

Interventional studies suggest that exercise is also beneficial for the reduction of the depression symptoms in human beings. In addition, the lowest exercise levels play a role in the improvement of depression symptoms (34). Several studies have also found that resistance training can be effective in contrary to most studies that have focused on aerobic exercises.

Bottom line: Running aids in dealing with depression as well as to treat patients who are clinically depressed.

32.  Running keeps eyes healthy

A published study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise shows that people who run an average of five or more miles each day have a lower percentage of developing cataracts which lead to vision loss (34). The advantage, however, has not been discovered by many people as they do not think that eye maintenance and health is one of the running benefits.

Bottom line: Running plays a part in the control of diseases that cataracts in people’ old ages.

33.  Running helps to improve the hearing ability

According to a research earlier performed at Bellarmine University located in Kentucky, running aids to improve the blood flow in ears which in turn improves hearing (35).

In another study where adult women participated, it was discovered that the group that had a higher cardiorespiratory fitness developed better hearing abilities as compared to the unfit. There was a six percent higher hearing ability in women who had higher aerobic fitness.

Bottom line: Running helps to improve the hearing ability which is an advantage to the aging people.  

34.  Running alleviates anxiety

Running as one of the vigorous forms of exercise helps in reducing anxiety symptoms and aids in the relaxation of mind (35). The activeness created works as a good medication to relieve anxiety as cited by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Bottom line: Anxiety can be reduced by running and other physical vigorous activities.

35.  Running boosts self-esteem

Running was greatly linked with self-esteem as per a study carried out on a group of adolescent girls (35). An evaluation according to the "Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run" after the participants run some laps showed that those who ran more laps at a faster pace achieved higher PACER scores.

This consequently exhibits higher levels of self-esteem in addition to better physical fitness. Overweight kids who participated in various vigorous aerobic activities such as running developed an increase in their self-esteem.

Bottom line: running is one of the physical activities that aids in the lifting of someone’s self-esteem.

Ten tips for beginners

1.      Planning

As a beginner, strategic planning is a great consideration since it helps in improving faster than simple winging it (36). The planning aids in avoiding pushing oneself so fast, and the risk of burnout.

2.      Getting the right kit

Running is quite a cheap sport where only a pair of shorts, t-shirt and some trainers for a starter. However, as a professional runner, you might also spend a fortune on some GPS watches range-gears and expensive race entries (36). It is a requirement to invest on the right shoes and the other kits to give the best output during the exercise.

3.      Pick up the pace

A starter should gently amble with the same loop a couple of times a week which should be a slower pace at first and then proceed to faster pace. In order to improve on the pace, there should be different forms of warm-ups.

4.      Perform other vigorous exercises

Even though many runners consider any other training that does not involve running as a waste of time, it is of benefit to starters since increases the respiratory rates. The exercises may involve those that help the knees function properly increasing the efficiency during running.

5.      Healthy eating

Generally, the body digests simple carbohydrates at a faster rate than proteins. Since carbohydrates which are stored as fuel can make one run for ninety minutes, it is necessary that one should take some gels to increase the fuel storage and make the starter run for a longer period.

6.      Getting a group

A starter needs to get a running group where he/she acquires the motivation, inspiration and commitment to continue with the process (37). Since everyone experiences times that they don’t want to run, when committed to a certain group there is the pushing force that makes them run continuously.

7.      Get hydrated

As a starter, one needs to get hydrated as the body also requires being fueled during the running processes. A recommendation of about 20 oz. of water about two hours prior to running is set. Whenever someone runs for more than an hour, there is the need for replacing the water previously taken with a sports drink. This helps to maintain the electrolyte level in the body as well as increasing the levels of some nutrients involving sodium, potassium and manganese.

8.      Get rest

Rest is a requirement by the body where it provides time to rebuild and recover. Whenever one runs or performs an exercise there are micro tears created which need to be recovered thus showing the essentiality of rest after every exercise. If one does not take enough rest, there can be signs of feeling tired, sluggish or sore.

9.      Getting in tune with the body

There is the need for someone to listen to their bodies to pause running if one does not feel well especially on the points that are greatly involved in the process. One should take some rest and whenever he/she does not feel well, they are supposed to see a doctor.

10.  Get acclimatized

Beginners should try to get acclimatized to the new body requirements after they start their running processes (38). One should start slowly to avoid the cramping quads, shin splints and sore hips as they start adjusting in the new activities.


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