I have a 19-miler tomorrow, and at times, I feel like all this running business is ruining things I used to enjoy in life -- weekends, sleeping in, going out late, high heels, etc. When I get daunted by distances, I often wonder why I still "do this to myself."
Phil, a fitness enthusiast and writer at Daybreak, volunteered to guest post a few things to remind me why I keep heading out that door each weekend and why I should continue to do so.
5 Ways Running Can Improve Your Life
--By Philip J Reed, on behalf of Daybreak and Northern Nevada Medical Center
Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of maintaining your health, and running is one way to accomplish that objective. Aside from providing a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, here are a few reasons running is beneficial.
Blood Pressure, Heart, and Lungs
Running helps people control their blood pressure. Because the arteries expand and contract more than normal when a person is running, the exercise keeps them elastic and blood pressure in check. Heart and lung strength also increase. Running can even aid in preventing heart attacks.
For someone interested in running, this form of exercise is a great way to promote weight loss. You’ll boost your metabolism and burn extra calories. By monitoring what you eat and making sure you use more calories than you consume, eventually the extra pounds will start slipping away. If you suffer from “stubborn fat” spots, especially around your stomach, jogging can help address that trouble as well, the Motley Health Web site has explained.
Controlling Joint Pain
Your knees will thank you if you start running, too. If you’re overweight, you could be feeling some joint pain because there’s more strain being placed on those parts of the body. Start working on getting rid of that excess weight, and you’ll likely notice some benefits.
For those who worry that running will actually cause knee problems, remember to exercise responsibly, the Runner’s World Web site has advised. Wear proper shoes, and avoid running on slanted or potentially dangerous surfaces. Don’t forget that rest days are important, as is cross-training to create an appropriate exercise balance.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition affecting millions of people around the world, but there are steps that can be taken to help prevent this condition. Because your bones are living tissue, they also grow stronger with exercise. To “work,” bones must experience impact through activities like dancing, running, tennis, and aerobics. The right exercise helps build and maintain bone density. It’s important to know the condition of your body, though. If you are not capable of high-impact exercise, explore other suitable options with your physician. And if you do find yourself injured, be absolutely certain to treat it correctly, preferably with the help of a professional sports medicine clinic!
Mental Health Benefits
The physical benefits of running are clear, but some runners say they run for more the great emotional high it provides. Moderate exercise can boost levels of a brain chemical called phenylethylamine, or PEA, which is a natural stimulant. PEA may create a “runner’s high” or euphoric mood. For someone who wants to feel good, and even for those who are struggling with depression, exercise can be a natural way to help encourage positive emotions.
As always, remember to consult a physician to learn how much running is appropriate for you, and formulate an exercise plan appropriate for your abilities. Start small and realistic, and work your way toward a larger goal. Healthy living is not beyond your reach, and running is a great way to get there! Just be sure to do it intelligently and responsibly!
We all know about these basic benefits, though I can probably add a few more, just for fun. Running:
- Works your mental discipline muscles. Each time you overcome your urge to stop or skip a run, you make yourself stronger mentally (though this can get overused/burnt out!). Of course, this means I do have thoughts such as, "Yeah, this studying sucks, but easier than running for three hours!"
- Allows you to cover a lot of ground on foot. I love running destination marathons because I get a point-of-view I never could otherwise.
- Gives you an automatic awesomeness factor. Lots of people are unable to run, or they choose not to run for various reasons. Compared to that latter group, you have something that they don't -- mojo, insanity -- whatever you want to call it.
Well, gotta eat some carbs!