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12 Amazing Benefits Of Running

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If you haven’t tried running before, you might question whether you should give it a shot. The response is affirmative – running provides a wide range of advantages for both the body and the mind. Below are a few of the most notable benefits.

1. It can help you live longer

The life-extending advantages of exercise have been demonstrated in several studies. For instance, Iowa State University researchers discovered that engaging in running three times a week, with an average duration of only 17 minutes each time, reduced the likelihood of a deadly heart attack or stroke by 55% in a study involving 55,000 individuals.

The National Runners’ and Walkers’ Study, conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California since 1991, has tracked over 154,000 runners and walkers. The study has discovered that even running as few as three to seven miles per week can decrease the chances of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

2. It can reduce cancer risk

Although running does not cure cancer, there is significant evidence suggesting that it aids in its prevention. A comprehensive analysis of 170 studies published in the Journal Of Nutrition found that consistent physical activity is linked to a decreased likelihood of developing specific cancers, such as colon cancer (risk reduction ranging from 40% to 70%), breast cancer (30% to 40%), and lung cancer (30% to 40%).

A genetic analysis of approximately 131,000 women from various parts of the world, including approximately 70,000 who had received a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, was conducted by another study.

Based on their DNA, individuals with a higher tendency to participate in physical activity were found to have a 41% lower chance of developing invasive breast cancer. The researchers reached the conclusion that engaging in more physical activity, specifically vigorous activity, and spending less time sedentary can potentially decrease the risk of breast cancer.

3. It keeps your mind sharp

According to a study published in the Psychonomic Bulletin And Review, it is widely believed that regular exercise plays an indomitable role in reducing age-related cognitive decline.

Research in Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience suggests that engaging in aerobic exercise can lead to enhanced cognitive function and increased blood flow in the brain for individuals over 50 years old. Moreover, another study conducted in the Journal Of Alzheimer’s Disease discovered that individuals who ran 15.3 miles weekly had a 40% reduced chance of death attributed to Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who did not engage in running activities.

4. It’s good for your joints

Contrary to what the critics say, running does not cause knee damage. On the contrary, it has the potential to enhance the strength of not only the knees but also other joints. A study conducted at Stanford University in California revealed that recreational runners experienced reduced joint deterioration. Moreover, a research article published in the journal Osteoporosis International demonstrated that older individuals who engaged in running possessed greater bone mineral density compared to sedentary individuals and swimmers of similar age.

5. It soothes stress

Levels of cognitive stress were found to decrease by 58% in participants after a 20-minute run, as shown by a small study conducted by the sports brand Asics that measured their brain waves before and after the exercise.

6. It doesn’t cost much

Although you have the option to spend a significant amount of money on carbon-fiber trainers, high-tech apparel, and gadgets, all you truly require to begin is a pair of reliable trainers and a comfortable outfit that doesn’t cause irritation. This is considerably less expensive compared to starting golf.

7. Running strengthens your whole musculoskeletal system

If you are curious about the effects of running on your body, you will be pleased to know that there are numerous benefits, most of which are physical.

Not all exercises that benefit the cardiovascular system only involve running. Running, being an aerobic exercise, has the added benefit of strengthening the lower body. Various muscles in the lower body, such as the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, work together to provide the necessary power for running on flat surfaces or uphill, according to Rhianna Green, DPT, a physical therapist and avid runner based in New York City.

If the intensity is increased on hills, there may be additional benefits in terms of strength. A study conducted in 2017 confirmed that sprinting on hills is advantageous: Soccer players who engaged in 10 sprints lasting 10 seconds on a 7% incline twice per week for 6 weeks observed notable enhancements in the strength of their legs and back. It should also be noted that the efficiency of running is influenced by the muscles in the upper body and core.

According to Megan Roche, MD, a running coach and physician, your body also strengthens tendons, ligaments, and bones in addition to other body parts. This adaptation helps them become resilient to the impacts of running.

According to Dr. Green, bone strength becomes crucial due to hormonal changes during menopause, resulting in a decrease in bone density. This increases the risk of osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures.

During your 20s, engaging in weight-bearing exercises such as running can promote the growth of your highest bone density. As you get older, running aids in the preservation of your existing density and slows down its decline over time. “The human body is like a tool that we can utilize for movement throughout the years, and having a stronger base is truly amazing,” states Dr. Roche.

8. It may improve knee health

There are individuals who feel cautious when it comes to starting running due to the fear of getting injured, primarily the notion that it will damage their knees. Nevertheless, research does not support this belief.

According to research, running does not increase the risk of arthritis in the long run, especially for those who engage in recreational running. In fact, a meta-analysis of 25 studies conducted in 2017 found that recreational runners had a lower likelihood of developing knee arthritis compared to sedentary individuals or professional/elite runners.

Additionally, a small 2019 study published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine involving 82 marathon runners revealed that marathon running enhanced certain elements of knee health among runners who were in their middle age. This improvement could be attributed to the decrease in joint inflammation. However, the study did observe the presence of asymptomatic cartilage wearing along the side of the knee in some of the participants.

According to Dr. Green, knee pain is often reported by the runners she sees in her office. In numerous instances, there is a relatively simple solution: strengthening your legs and hips (such as by following a strength workout designed for runners), replacing shoes every 500 miles, and varying the surfaces you run on (for example, incorporating softer trails or grass in addition to harder concrete).

However, in certain instances, existing serious conditions such as knee osteoarthritis, joint replacements, or unsuccessful ACL reconstructions may necessitate contemplating an alternative sport.

9. Running can improve heart health

Have you ever wondered about the duration of running? If you want to improve your heart health, the required time might be less than you expect.

For the sake of achieving optimal cardiovascular health, government guidelines advise individuals to engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week (or a combination of both). Running, regardless of one’s speed, qualifies as vigorous exercise, implying that there are advantages to both slow jogging and running at a faster pace.

A review published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2015 suggests that you may not need to spend a significant amount of time on the road. Even runners who only went out once or twice per week and covered a total of six miles or less were able to obtain the same heart health benefits as marathon runners.

Dr. Roche affirms that it is logical since the heart is also a muscle. Similar to how you may observe increased muscle in your quads and calves when you run, you can envision the enhancement of your cardiac strength. A more powerful heart can expel a greater amount of blood with each beat, resulting in improved efficiency and resilience of your entire cardiovascular system.

10. It puts you in control

You have the ultimate freedom to customize your running experience. You have the option to run alone or in a group, run a few times per week or participate in races and eventually work your way up to a marathon. Additionally, you can opt for a short 15-minute run or go for an hour or longer, based on your schedule. The decision is completely yours.

11. It can make you happier

In a study conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University, over 8,000 individuals who regularly participate in parkrun were questioned about their health and wellbeing. The participants, on average, achieved a score of 4.4 out of six on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, which is higher than the general population’s average score of four. Additionally, 89% of parkrun participants reported that engaging in regular running made them happier and had a beneficial effect on their mental health.

12. Running can improve your mood

If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, and stress at a high level currently, know that you’re not alone. According to the latest report on stress in America by the American Psychological Association, approximately one third of adults claimed to experience overwhelming stress on a consistent basis, and one out of every four individuals find it challenging to carry out their daily activities due to this.

Running, or engaging in any type of exercise, is not a complete solution and may necessitate medications or therapy. However, a thorough examination of 116 studies published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2020 emphasizes that there is substantial evidence suggesting that running could be beneficial in tackling various mental health issues. The authors caution, though, that it should not develop into a compulsive inclination for exercise.

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