You may not know this, but running – on a regular basis, actually has a lot of benefits. These include lowering blood pressure, and increasing risk of Alzheimer’s. It also can lower risk of developing many cancers. Some of these may surprise you, and running has proven to improve overall life quality as well. Here are some benefits of running that you may not have heard of:
Running improves overall lifespan: This might sound too good to be true, but it is. A meta-analysis of all research linking running and longevity was conducted in 2018. Researchers found a 25-30% lower rate of mortality (of all causes) in runners, when compared to non-runners. The research was definitive: Running, even as often as once a week, is much better than not running at all. Research conducted targeting runners specifically proved that running could add up to three years to an individual’s lifespan.
A study conducted by Ball State University conducted health check-ups on lifetime runners, ages 75 and up. They discovered that their health systems identified more closely with that of a 25 year old, than when compared to their peers who did not run regularly.
Running can improve the quality of your sleep: While the two may not seem related at all, studies have shown that all exercise, especially running, can improve your sleep quality. Author Christina Aschwaden, in her book, Good to Go, wrote about sports recovery. She spent years researching how running improved sleep quality. Better sleep quality meant better productivity, better moods, better appetites and overall life improvements for runners.
Experts at the famous John Hopkins Medical Institue explicity stated that running helps you fall aslepp more quickly as well. The relationship between sleep and exercise is a symbiotic one. The more you exercise, the better quality sleep you need – which exercise provides. However, don’t exercise to close to your bedtime. This can have the opposite effect and actually cause you to be more active during the night.
Running can give strength to your knees and back: Everyone has the same fears: fears of your knees or back going bad. More than 65% of adults over the age of 30 have complained of frequent backaches or joint pains. Unfortunatley, most of them are mislead by the causes. It is true that some exercise, like cycling can exacerbate knee pains. However, less strenuous physical exercise, like running can improve joint movements. Researchers analysed 675 marathon runners. They found that arthritis was found in lower rates in this group than the average of the US general population.
Another study even compared the knees of runners who finished a multi-day, 2700 kilometre marathon across Europe. They concluded that running did not have any negative effects on the knees of the runners’. They discovered that running improved bone marrow and cartilage quality in runners, making their knees stronger.
Running helps you lose weight, and maintain it: Most nutritionists suggest running for those looking to lose weight quickly. This because running works out your entire body, unlike gym exercises. It is also because, running is one of the fastest methods of losing weight, after swimming. Losing weight is actually much easier than maintaining your weight. Multiple studies have shown that people can lose large amounts of weight for an average of six months. After that period, they actually tend to gain most of that weight back. Within a period of sixteen months, their weight goes back to its previous number.
Runners, on the other hand, have proven to not only to lose weight quicker, but also stay in shape after that. The National Weight Control Registry, based in the US, found that runners lost an average of 23 kilos. And that they maintained their new weights of 5.5 years following the weight loss.
It can boost your immunity levels: David Niemen is an expert who has completed over 58 marathons. He spent over four decades looking at the relationship between running and immunity. What did he find? His research showed that even modest amounts of exercise could improve immunity. However, pushing endurance to its limits had a downfall. It actually decreased overall immunity levels in the body. Niemen and his colleagues published a paper in 2019 linking physical activity and the body’s defensive systems. They gave evidence that running achieved this. It did so by reducing inflammation, enhancing gut microbial and improving antibody responses.
Running can improve mental health: While it can be incredibly hard for those suffering from mental illness to exercise, it benefits them the most. Running, and other forms of exercise have proven to alleviate symptoms of depression. They do so because your body naturally release s endorphins while you exercise. These endorphins release pleasure chemicals into your brain. This can improve your mood. Studies have shown that exercise helps people feel more productive, improves overall self-esteem. It has also been proven to improve mood over longer periods of time.
The list goes on and on, but one thing is for sure. You are better off running, even as low as once a week, than not at all. While it may seem difficult at first, let yourself enjoy running. Make a regular schedule and stick to it. Grab a running buddy to keep you motivated. And as the months go by, watch your efforts be rewarded in more ways than one.