The Many Health Benefits of Running

runner in sunsetYou probably know that going for a run a few times a week can improve your health significantly, but the benefits of running carry far beyond simply burning calories and strengthening your lungs. Here is a look at just a few of the many health benefits of running.

Burn calories.

Running, of course, is a highly effective way to burn calories; that is why so many fitness and weight loss programs are centered around running, along with weight training and healthy nutrition. If you need to lose weight to improve your health, then running can help you get there. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, running regularly is a great way to keep your metabolism up. Just don’t forget to replenish those calories with healthy choices!

Strengthen your joints.

Running might have a reputation for being hard on your joints, but when you wear the proper gear and practice the right running technique, there is actually little reason for concern. Running increases the strength of your ligaments and tendons, and over time your joints will be able to withstand longer distances and rougher terrain. The trick is to start slowly and increase your speed and distance over time.

Build bone density.

Running helps to build stronger bones, as well. Since running puts stress on your bones, your body will respond to increased levels of running by sending essential minerals to your bones.

Strengthen your heart and lungs.

Your heart is a muscle.  As with any other muscle it grows stronger with exercise.  Running is great aerobic, or heart-healthy, exercise.  Additionally, running also helps promote increased lung capacity and better lung function.

Build resistance to disease.

Yep—running regularly can boost your immune system, as well. It has also been linked to lowering your risk for developing certain diseases. It has been shown, for example, to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, stroke, and heart attack. Running is also often recommended by doctors to patients who are in the early stages of diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

Increase happiness levels.

It is well known in the world of running that running produces a kind of “runner’s high.” Running actually helps brings about surge of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids in the body, leading to increased feelings of happiness. Moreover, when you consider the many physical health benefits that running offers, it’s easy to imagine that running can increase overall feelings of confidence and wellbeing, as well.

Build mental endurance.

Any experienced runner will tell you that perhaps even greater than the physical component of running is the mental component. So much of running is about building mental endurance that will keep you going, even when you are tempted to give in. The more you run, then, the stronger your physical—and mental—endurance will be.