To some, the idea of putting one foot in front of the other through pain, fatigue, misery and anguish makes no sense and has no appeal. To others, it’s all they want to do. If you don’t have this hereditary instinct and it needs explaining, it’s likely you’ll never understand the appeal – but science never lies! Take their word for it. Here are 17 scientific reasons why running is good for you.
1. Runners are happier people
You’ll have heard people say they run to escape the real world or to let off some steam and calm down. It turns out there isn’t any semantic poetic license here. It’s true!
Kynurenine is a substance found in the body that accumulates during times of stress. Aerobic activity, like running, is a great way to clear the body of such toxins and make you feel much happier in the process.
2. Burn off the pounds
Running, of course, can have a great impact on your weight which is why it’s #2 on why running is good for you. If your running habit puts your body in a state called a ‘caloric deficit’. you’re winning! This means your body is burning more calories than you’re consuming. To compensate, your body begins to burn fat stores around the body. Although it’s not going to happen immediately, it means you should be seeing a difference in the mirror or the scales soon.
3. Runners burn fat without working out!
Running also has a unique effect on what’s called the ‘after-burn’ effect. Think of it as being paid overtime. Scientists call this the EPOC which stands for ‘excess post oxygen consumption’. Your body, for a short period, is still working really hard once your workout is done and studies have shown that regular exercise can boost this effect.
Running boosts confidence
As well as the physical changes, just as importantly running has a great impact on your confidence and self-esteem. The changes in the mirror, the setting and achieving of your goals are all positive little wins that can make you feel greater about yourself.
4. Fill out or lean up
Physical activity like running of course fatigues your body’s muscles. Developing a regularly running routine and regularly doing so will increase your muscular strength. Ensuring you maintain a diet high in protein will ensure your muscles recover fully and quickly to make sure you don’t miss a day.
5. Running adds years to your life!
Any form of regular exercise will better your life, even if it is the bare minimum of 30 minutes, 5 times a week. One study focused on different groups and observed smoker could increase their lifespan by 4.1 years, non-smokers by 3 years, cancer survivors by 5.3 years and those with heart disease could gain 4.3 years!
6. Runners have less of a risk of developing cancer
In men and women, regular exercise like running has shown huge deductions in the likelihood of developing cancer. One study concluded that men who were physically active were the least likely to develop cancer, but more so those who ran (or took part in exercise of a similar intensity) for 30 minutes a day exhibited a 50% reduction in the risk of premature death by cancer. Another win for why running is good for you.
Another study for women showed that running can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 20% and that regular running can reduce the risk of it recurring by as much as 40%.
7. Running improves bone strength and density
Running challenges all aspects of this body including its bones. Regular running helps to improve and maintain bones strength and bone density lowering the risk of osteoporosis. It also makes your less susceptible to break and other injuries.
8. It’s good for the heart
For more reasons than one, your heart hugely benefits from a regular running programme. Your heart is a muscle so needs to be worked like any other to ensure it’s healthy. It also going to benefit from your reduction in weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Ensuring your stick to a healthy diet while running will help rid your body overtime of ‘bad’ cholesterol leading to a healthy heart. If it’s good for the heart it’s good for me and another reason why running is good for you.
9. Running helps young people’s sleep, mood and productivity
A study conducted in 2012 shows that regular running help boosts the mood and productivity of adolescents. A group of 51 people, with an average age of 18, were split into two. One group went about their regular routine while the other half incorporated 30 minutes of running into their weeks. The runners ran for half an hour at a moderate pace, five days a week for three weeks.
As well as the positive impact to the running group’s mood and productivity, it also showed an improvement to their sleeping pattern. Sleeping less throughout the day and deeper at night. The same benefits are likely to apply to runners of any age, although only if you’re willing to give up your midday siestas.
10. Runners are better thinkers
History has proven runners are better thinkers. Alan Turing, inventor of the Enigma code breaker, ran a marathon in 2hour 46mins. Nobel Prize winner Wolfgang Ketterle stopped the clocked only 2 hours 49mins into his marathon effort.
A protein called Estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERRy) fuels both body and mind. It controls the release of energy to the muscles and brain so the more efficient your body is at producing ERRy, you should not only see your splits improve but become a genius too!
11. Runners have better hearing
Drop the hearing aids! According to research at the Bellarmine University, Kentucky, USA, running increases the flow of blood to your ears consequently, improving your hearing.
A study of over 1,000 adult women concludes that those with a higher cardio-respiratory fitness had better hearing functions at high and low frequencies. Dr Paul Loprinzi noted that women with higher aerobic fitness were 6% more likely to have good hearing than bad hearing.
12. Running keeps you sharp
Are you worried about losing your marbles as you get older? Don’t be. Studies have consistently shown that fitter adults score better in mental tests.
Regular exercise betters age-related mental decline, in particular functions such as task switching, selective attention and the working memory. It found the brain’s overall function improved over the course of the research specifically in areas such as attention, concentration, planning and organising. It also analysed that stroke patients who took part in regular exercise improved memory learning, thinking and problem judgement by almost 50%.
13. Runners are tough!
Running strengthens muscles around your joints making them strong and more able to withstand pressure, which in turn relieves stress from the joint itself. This also helps reduce the risk of issues such as osteoarthritis.
14. Running boosts your blood vessel count!
The body produces new blood vessels as muscles grow and strengthen through exercise. Altitude training is used for similar purposes but exercise in general promotes blood vessel production. A more efficient circulation of blood flow reduces blood pressure, helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and helps prevent atherosclerosis.
15. Runner keep a clear complexion
Running and skincare don’t exactly go hand in hand, but what does? Stress and bad skin. Spots, zits and conditions like Eczema often flare up due to stress. The calming nature of running can help improve your skin. Exercising whilst maintaining a good balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can really help keep your skin healthy.
16. Running is good for your … eye health?
You can reduce your risks of developing certain eyes diseases by taking part in regular exercise like running. Regular running helps prevent diseases, such as Glaucoma, where internal pressure in the eye causes blindness by up to 25%.
17. Healthy livers all round
An increasingly common issue in the 21st-century bodies are our ‘fatty livers’. Bad diets and a lack of exercise cause fat to build up in our liver cells. It is, in most circumstances, harmless but it has been connected to heart disease and stroke. On occasions, it can become inflamed and lead to cirrhosis. Regular running is a simple way of maintaining our liver function to healthier levels.