Running, as we all know, is good for you. Forgive me for opening by stating the obvious, but there it is. It’s a fact that is pretty much universally accepted, so we can put that one to bed, right?
Not so fast – if asked why running is good for us, most people would mutter something about burning fat or getting a cardio workout, but that’s as far as they can go.
The truth is that running offers an array of benefits that you might not know about, and when you discover them, you might find yourself a bit more motivated to hit the treadmill or head out to the nearest track. First, let’s take a look at a few benefits that are more commonly understood.
The obvious benefits to running
There are a few positives that you probably already know:
Stronger cardiovascular system
Running is one of the most effective means of bolstering your cardio system – meaning that it improves your heart’s ability to pump blood and your muscles’ ability to use oxygen.
When it comes to burning fat, nothing is more effective than running, especially if you run uphill. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to propel your body upwards and forwards at a consistent pace, and that effort pays off in the pounds shed.
From combating short-term bugs to life-threatening diseases like cancer or stroke, running is a highly effective method of strengthening your immune system and ensuring that everything keeps working properly.
The lesser-known benefits of running
We could have made a pretty substantial list of benefits, but we’ll keep it to a few that are the most exciting:
Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
After just a few minutes of running, your brain begins producing an array of mood-elevating and stabilizing chemicals and hormones – the benefits of which are obvious if you cope with stress or depression. And even if you aren’t looking for a means of combating mental tension, these chemicals can lead to a sense of euphoria that is commonly known as a “runner’s high.”
Between helping you look and feel better, running is a great way to boost your self-confidence. Not only will you feel more confident due to the aesthetic and emotional improvements, but there is something incredibly empowering about knowing that you’re in control of shaping and improving your own body.
Increases brainpower and decreases cognitive decline
From sharpening your memory, to improving your decision-making and learning skills, to slowing the effects of cognitive decline as you age, running is great for your brain function.
Regular sleep cycles
Studies have shown that running not only helps people fall asleep faster, but that it makes their sleep longer-lasting and more restful.
Stronger joints and bones
It is true that the impact of running can be hard on your joints, but it’s been proven that over the long-term running helps strengthen joint cartilage and bone density, which helps to prevent arthritis and osteoporosis.
If you suffer from migraines, you know that it can be impossible to find a solution you can count on – running might be your answer. Studies have shown that migraine patients experience significantly less headaches when they run at least three times a week.
Sharpens your hearing
It might sound a little odd, but running can actually improve your hearing thanks to the fact that it provides more circulation to the ear.
As mentioned earlier, there are more benefits to running than we have space to list here, but these are a few that can be life changing (or in the case of improved hearing, just kind of novel).
And I’m not just saying that – I’ve experienced it firsthand. There was a point in my life when I abhorred running. Absolutely hated it. Then as I started getting older I realized that it was time to start taking my health into consideration. At first I got into it grudgingly, as if I was making some massive sacrifice for my health. But it wasn’t long before I discovered something that amazed me – running made me happier. A lot happier.
Today I alternate between getting my cardio from running, jumping rope, or cycling, but it all goes back to that first time I forced myself to get on the treadmill. Now I can’t imagine living without it.
So if you don’t already, give running a try. The benefits are so wide-ranging that it is almost foolish to go without.