Running may have seemed like a crazy trend back in the 1970s when thousands of people starting showing up in colorful running shoes and thigh-skimming jogging shorts to pound their way around the track or neighborhood. The fact, however, is running remains a popular form of exercise today, a testament to its faddish beginnings. Here’s a look at five of the sport’s benefits.
1. It’s convenient
No gym memberships, no special equipment (other than supportive shoes), no cost, no one’s schedule but your own – that’s the convenience of running. Runners can simply choose a route and go when it best suits them. Having a treadmill at home makes running even more convenient. Athletes who are concerned about traffic, running after dark or dealing with inclement weather can stick to their regular running schedule simply by running indoors.
2. Weight-loss aid
Running is an efficient way to burn calories and work off those extra pounds. According to a study conducted by researchers at Syracuse University, running burns far more calories than walking. Both men and women who participated in the study burned four times the amount of net calories when running as compared to walking. Cross training – that is, combining exercises to train different muscle groups – is the best long-term solution for physical fitness. In addition to allowing parts of the body to rest and recover between workouts, cross training helps to combat fitness boredom.
3. Improves health
Running helps improve overall health in many ways. As part of a regular exercise routine, running can help lower cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health and lung capacity, build strong bones, improve muscle tone and assist brain function. It can also lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Adhering to a regular running routine, e.g., 20-30 minutes each day, can help you sleep better, allowing you to recharge and maintain good energy levels throughout the week.
4. Relief from stress and depression
Running takes your mind off the day’s worries and helps to break the cycle of negative thinking that can lead to stress and depression. Endorphins, those “feel good” chemicals in the brain, are released during vigorous exercise like running and the brain chemicals that perpetuate depression are reduced.
5. Build confidence
New runners quickly see improvement in their stamina. At first, running three or four minutes at a time may be the most someone can do, but after just a week or two of regular activity, many will see their running times begin to increase. Seeing this kind of improvement can encourage runners to stick with their schedules and build confidence for getting involved in other, seemingly out-of-reach activities.
Persons who are interested in incorporating running into their regular exercise schedule can practice the “run-walk” method: warm up with five minutes of walking and follow with three minutes of running. Trade back and forth to build up strength and agility until running becomes second nature. As with any exercise program, set reasonable goals, rest when tired or injured and always consider asking more experienced runners for advice, tips and feedback.
Holly is an avid runner and soccer enthusiast. In her free time she enjoys blogging on behalf of Sears and other reputable brands she enjoys.