When it comes to running, there tend to be two extreme stereotypes:
Those who never miss their run, no matter the weather, and those who say “if I’m running, you should probably run too because it means I’m being chased by something”.
Maybe, however, there is a middle ground.
Running has a host of health benefits associated with it, and you don’t have to be a marathon runner to reap those rewards.
Today we’ll have a look at some of the reasons you might want to consider adding running to your routine.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Are The Benefits Of Running?
There are a lot of reasons to take up running.
It’s a relatively inexpensive form of exercise – all you really need are some comfortable clothes and a pair of running shoes.
Perhaps some treads for those shoes and thermal gear if you plan to do it in colder weather.
Although social media may have you believe you need to invest in a fancy fitness tracker and other specialized gear, these are optional and not really necessary for someone just starting out.
This makes it accessible to those who may not want to pay for a gym membership and people who aren’t quite ready to return to the gym amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep reading to see some more of the benefits of this great form of exercise.
1. It Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Weight
Running is an exercise which engages your whole body.
Yes, it is a way to work lower body muscles such as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes primarily.
However, running also requires the core muscles such as obliques and abdominals to maintain balance.
Because it involves so many different muscle groups, running tends to burn more calories than other types of exercise.
This means while you are initially losing weight running can be an excellent supplement to a healthy eating program, and then once you have achieved your desired weight it can help to maintain it.
This makes running a great part of a naturopathic weight loss program.
2. It’s Good For Your Immune System
One issue which is on the minds of many people these days is immune health.
What factors affect how well your immune system fights disease, and what are the things you can do to help it along?
However, running can help too.
Moderate exercise has been found to be beneficial to the immune system, and running is a great way to achieve this.
Running can also help to reduce the risk of respiratory infections, improve antibody response and lower inflammation.
3. It Can Help Improve Your Sleep
Sleep helps you rejuvenate and grow muscle, restore and repair tissues, address hormonal imbalances, repair neural pathways, and much more.
Good sleep is incredibly important for health.
But what does “good” sleep mean?
Generally, this refers to not only the amount of sleep you’re getting, but the quality – so it’s not just getting your eight hours, it’s a matter of those eight hours being restful and restorative.
Exercise in general, and specifically running can help you fall asleep faster and improves the quality of sleep.
Additionally, it doesn’t matter what time of day you do it.
It was once thought exercising too close to bedtime could disrupt sleep, but this has largely been found to be false – so don’t worry if you prefer to get your run in after work instead of first thing in the morning.
However, it’s not a bad idea to have a little bedtime yoga ritual as well to wind down.
4. It’s Good For Your Mental Health
Many people start running for the benefits to their physical health, and then they keep running for the mental health benefits.
When surveyed on the reasons they run, answers commonly point to increased mental clarity, better mood, and a more positive effect on emotions.
Runners have compared it to being an effective alternative to prescription medications for depression and said it to be as effective as psychotherapy.
It’s important to note that results will vary, and while there is nothing wrong with needing therapy or medication for mental health concerns, this could be a way for individuals to help manage depression and anxiety as a way to supplement professional help.
Please do not stop taking medication or seeking therapy based on what you read in this article.
5. It Reduces Risk Of Osteoarthritis
Arthritis actually refers to a large number of different disorders, but the most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease which occurs when the cartilage in a joint wears down, resulting in stiffness, pain, and swelling.
It commonly affects the hips and knees.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery surveyed marathon runners regarding their hip and knee health.
Prevalence of arthritis in this group of marathon runners was found to be significantly lower than in the general population.
Are There Risks In Running?
Like any exercise, there can be some risks involved with running, the most common being the potential for overuse injury.
Going from being a complete couch potato, to running too much, too far, or too fast can lead to injuries.
Additionally, poor form or inappropriate shoes can be a cause for concern.
Some ways to avoid this include:
- Learning proper form
- Ensuring your have appropriate shoes and replacing them when they wear out
- Warming up properly before a run, and stretching afterwards
- Including other forms of exercise in your routine, such as swimming, cycling, and body weight exercises
Don’t try to run a marathon right away – work up to longer distances gradually
Should You Start Running?
You just read a lot of great reasons to take up running.
The physical and mental health benefits sound great, and you’re ready to invest in a great new pair of shoes.
But maybe there’s something holding you back.
Maybe you’re nervous about getting started due to past injuries, or want to make sure it’s not going to affect some other factor we haven’t considered here today.
In that case, it’s time to…
Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
I’m Dr Maria Cavallazzi, ND, and if there is something holding you back from living a full and healthy life, I’m here to help.
The paradox of anxiety is it’s often the thing which holds us back from starting a new habit – like running – which can help alleviate said anxiety.
If this sounds familiar, I want to help you determine what is holding you back, so you can make the best decisions for your health.
Contact my office today to set up an appointment.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.