How such a simple habit can immeasurably improve your life!
You may have done it in the past, or are looking at starting in the future. Here is why you should start running immediately! If you do it right, there is only upside!
- On the surface
- Long term benefits
- In the mind
- Endless opportunities
On the surface – immediate and short term benefits
So you have just started running, you’re a little sore – delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can be a killer! But it won’t last long. And here is what is happening, step by step, stride by stride your physical health is improving more than you know.
Tissue adaptation. Tissue is referring to all the different structures of your body, but specifically: muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones. Lets focus on them. Each time you run, you are performing a repetition (or multiple) of strenuous resistance and cardiovascular training. And the more we train, the stronger we become.
Muscles – Whether it’s your calves, quads, glutes, abs and more, nearly every muscle is getting worked when you run. As you run and progress in speed, distance or other variables, you break down muscle groups. Once the muscles break down, you rest, refuel, get the electrolytes, proteins, carbs, fats into your body. This rebuilds the muscles making them larger and stronger. This strength increases balance, power which will help you in many other aspects of your life.
Bones and tendons – Both of these structures respond and grow when exposed to physical stimulus and stress. Each time you load a bone with weight, it gets stronger and stronger. Inside most bones’ hard exterior is space, this space is filled with trabecular bone. It’s like little cross bridges and structural supports. It keeps bone strong, but light. Applying physical resistance and stress will actually grow more trabecular bone, improving the tensile strength and loading capacity of each structure. Ligaments and tendons without being too specific also respond to stress. So the more you run, the faster you go, the different types of running will harden your body, making it more resilient and setting a foundation for you to do so much more.
And all this starts as soon as you run! You will notice significant change within 6 weeks.
Long term benefits
Cardiovascular fitness, you have heard the term one thousand times before. Regular running will lower your resting heart rate and increase what’s called your V02 max. This is where most of the beneficial long term effects start, but what does it mean?
Your brain and muscles need oxygen to function. You take a breath, inhale oxygen into the lungs, the oxygen saturated or is absorbed into your bloodstream, and the heart pumps to send the blood around your body taking the nutrients in it to the brain, muscles and other organs. When you run, your heart rate rises and you work hard, and just like any other muscle, when you rest, your heart becomes stronger – the pump is more powerful. Therefore one pump provides more blood and oxygen where needed, and as a result the heart does not need to pump as many times. This is the crux of aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health.
All the long term benefits stem from cardiovascular health.
- Reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
- Up to 85% lower cholesterol levels.
- Reduced hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Reduced use of medications.
And all these benefits are seen at a higher rate, the more you run, Hit up google, do your own research, and find endless studies showing the increase in health and longevity with running – you won’t be disappointed.
In the mind – hidden effects of running
Less easy to find in studies, however anecdotal evidence is abundant are the psychological and neurological benefits of running. We have all heard of runners high, which is the endorphins released by sustained cardiovascular activity that leaves you feeling euphoric. I have had it, only once – but the psychological effects of consistent exercise are self-evident. Time to yourself with the road, time to detox and process your thoughts, listen to an album you enjoy or a podcast that gets you going. Running provides an escape where you know you are working on yourself, improving your health and taking needed time for self care. You get an endorphin buzz, destress, and process things in your life. It has been shown that exercise has benefits on depression and other mental illnesses, but it really is something you will see for yourself.
On a more neurological note, it has been shown that regular cardiovascular exercise increases brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a chemical in the brain which helps stimulate neurogenesis – the growth of new synapses and cells. It is hypothesised that increased BDNF will help protect your brain from degeneration, and that it will help prevent neuro degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons just as a couple of examples. The research is by no means definitive, but it only looks positive.
Can anyone afford not to run!?
You can be private, or social. Join a running club, tackle a marathon, learn to sprint and run fast over a short distance. Tokyo, New York, Paris, London – all places you can travel for running events. Do you have a cause close to your heart that you want to raise money for? Challenge yourself with a half marathon or 10km and raise money for the cause. Love nature? Endless trails and mountains available depending on where you are at the time. No need for a gym, you can run anywhere. Explore your new vacation destination while making yourself healthy. Get your young kids on a push bike while you go for a run.
That is a list off the top of my head which took about 60 seconds to write. You have endless opportunities to explore yourself and the world by running. Find a way to do it that works for you and never look back!
Have you done any research? Did you start and find an evident health benefit of running? Keep going, running is a habit. And if done correctly can be kept as an everyday part of your life, with immeasurable upside!
- Make your body strong and resilient. Increased bone density and muscular strength will come straight away with regular running.
- Cardiovascular heath is the key to living a long and healthy life.
- Psychological health and neurological benefits are associated with exercise.
- Make it part of your social and recreational activities.