Let’s face it, unless you are ‘a runner’ the average individual hates running.  Similar to any athletic endeavor, running takes devotion and commitment, especially getting past that first mile hump.  So why do we start running?  There are plenty of good causes and fundraising events that inspire people to pull out their sneakers and start training.  Maybe a friend suggested you participate in an upcoming 5k.  Perhaps there is a high school or college reunion or a big social event in the near future and you want to look your best.   Often it is a health related issue, you need to lose weight, or you want to improve overall wellness.

There is a plethora of health benefits to running.  With the overarching concerns of global obesity, Type II diabetes, and heart disease hitting all time record highs, none of us can ignore the headlines.  However, there are

Benefits of running that are less explicit and some far more pleasurable

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1. No learning curve and fairly inexpensive 

All it takes is a pair of shoes to get started and we all know how to run – like riding a bike.  Recent advances in running shoe technology allows for more shoe for less money.  Of course, there are shoes that cost more than $200.00.  With a little research and some well-informed shopping, you can find a deal.

2. Good for knee joints and prevents arthritis

Contrary to popular belief, running does not hurt your knee joints and will not contribute to arthritis.  In fact, Paul Williams, exercise scientist at Berkeley National Laboratory in the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ study states “running probably offers protection from osteoarthritis” (Neighmond, P. 2011).   Williams’ research, corroborated by the work of David Felson with the Boston University School of Medicine, supports the benefit of running on the knee joints and arthritis prevention.

Also check out How to prevent common running injuries

3. Reduces depression and stress 

Any type of exercise produces the feel good hormones ‘endorphins’ that reduce pain perception, because they act like natural analgesics and sedatives without chemical addiction.  Running also stimulates production of serotonin and dopamine, which are both pleasure hormones.  Not every run will induce a ‘runners high’, but generally will reinforce the pleasure associated with exercise.

15 benefits of running that never crossed your mind

4. Longevity

Inactivity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, hypertension, depression, and joint diseases.  Activity reduces the risk of morbidity, and running is one of best and fastest ways to capitalize on the all-inclusive health benefits, including living longer and in better shape with more stamina.

5. Teaches goals settings 

For whatever reason you start to run, you will reach a little further the next time you hit the pavement.  Maybe it is only one more block or one more mile; but with constant reward, you will go further and feel better about the decision you made to be proactive about your health.

6. Helps mindfulness 

Running is time alone, time with a good friend, time to heal, time for empowerment, time outdoors.   TIME FOR YOU.   Running induces those feel good hormones and with little effort induces a meditative state of mind, enhances focus, and clears the mind.

7. The healing benefits of morning sunlight 

Adequate exposure to sunlight is correlated with an increased production of Vitamin D, an essential, fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies cannot manufacture without the sun.  Vitamin D supports healthy bones, our immune system, as well as numerous other health concerns.  Exposure to sunlight also increases the production of serotonin, the precursor to melatonin, which is the sleep hormone.  In addition, research at Northwestern University confirms that exposure to morning sunlight reduces body mass index (BMI), one of the indicators of obesity.  Too much sun is a problem, but all it takes is 20 to 30 minutes of morning sun to reap the benefits. (Girdwain, J. 2014)

8. Boots confidence 

With each mile gained, you recognize your capacity to improve, which augments your ability to reach further.  With every inch or pound loss, your goals come closer to fruition.  With every run, you believe in yourself a little more.

9. You don’t nees to be an athlete and you don’t need a personal trainer 

Running is not sport specific.  Indeed, if you want to engage in other sports, running will help your performance.  However, if you are planning to train for a half or full marathon, you might want to consider enlisting the help of a running coach or gait specialist, otherwise running and jogging require little instruction, if any.

health benefits of running

10. Improves quality of sleeps 

The production of feel good hormones, stress reduction, and more confidence generates less distraction in other activities, including sleep.  Furthermore, the health benefits associated with increased activity improves the circulation of vital nutrients.  Sleep is the time for healing and recuperation, when the body recruits what we have put in and what we have done in order to facilitate better function the next day and in the future.

11. Increases bone strength  

Running is a weight bearing exercise, and thus increases bone mineral density, which helps prevent Osteopenia and Osteoporosis.

12. You smell better 

Nothing like a good sweat to get rid of toxins, and running makes you sweat.  The skin is the largest organ in the body and crucial to many bodily functions.  Along with the liver, colon, lungs and kidneys, the skin is an eliminating organ.  Many toxins are stored in the adipose or fat tissue, which must be removed through the passive lymphatic system.  Running is a natural cleanser because it stimulates the lymph process through movement, increasing circulation to all the organs of elimination.

13. Reduces your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease  

Research confirms the benefits of regular exercise, and in particular running, on the brain over the course of a lifetime.  The benefits begin in children and continue as we age.  With better circulation to the brain, there is growth in the number of nerve cells and blood vessels as well as a reduction in brain shrinkage.  In addition to learning new skills, there are added bonuses of the brain’s ability to store complex information and an enhanced ability to recall, access, and juggle the incredible amount of data in our memory.

14. Reduces your risk of certain cancers 

Running is not a cure, but it can assist with the prevention of colon, colorectal, breast, lung, and endometrial cancers, which are often associated to lifestyle choices and not genetics.  Running and other forms of exercise decrease inflammation, obesity, insulin production, digestive acids, as well as lowers blood estrogen levels in women.  These factors as well as the more common benefits of running such as weight loss, higher HDL, lower LDL, improved circulation, as well as becoming more informed about diet and food selection culminate in a lowered risk of certain cancers.

15. Better sex

The seductive benefit of running: better sex.  You feel better and you look better, and the result is improved self-image, which can reignite passion and improve your love life.  Even subtle changes in our self-esteem works wonders in the bedroom!

If you like what you read here, you might also be interested to read a article about running exercise here.

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