Many people think that they know the benefits of running. And of course the benefits vary from person to person. For a bank robber the benefits are reasonably clear – the need to be faster than the policemen! For the rest of us, the benefits may be a bit less obvious!
So what are the benefits of running:
- Weight control. If you are overweight, starting to run will help you to lose weight. When you run, you use more calories than when you do not run which helps to create a calorie deficiency. Any deficiency causes your body to burn fat, reducing your weight. In addition to the calories which you run off, being a runner tends to cause your leg muscles to grow in bulk. This increase in muscle bulk in turn increases your metabolism so that your body uses more calories when it’s resting than it did before. So you use even more calories.
- Reducing your risk of premature death. Many studies have shown that regular exercisers reduce their risk of premature death compared to non-exercisers. Simple as that. It does not matter what health problems you had before you started, the basic fact that you now regularly run will reduce you risk of premature death.
- Osteoporosis. Many older people, especially women, start to experience loss of bone density. Regular weight bearing exercise (eg running) helps reduce the loss of bone density, reducing the risks of bone fractures.
- Well-being. Running makes you feel better about yourself. Part because you are getting fitter and thinner. Partly because it releases endorphins, which are your own natural feel-good chemicals.
- Diabetes. There is a lot of evidence that running reduces the risks of developing diabetes, and can help reduce the symptoms if you already have it.
- Heart disease. The high level of exertion required for running has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease significantly. This is the largest single killer in the UK (source – Office for National Statistics) and the US (source – National Center for Health Statistics), which is one of the reasons why running reduces the risk of premature death so effectively.
- Overall health. Running boosts the immune system, reducing the likelihood of catching colds, flu etc.
There are many other great benefits of running. For me, one of the most important can not be quantified. The chance to have some ‘me’ time, when I can think about what’s important to me without interruptions, whilst at the same time enjoying the countryside, and wildlife. Quite apart from all of the health benefits, having this chance to connect with the natural world really makes it feel great to be alive.