While the list of benefits of running is long, from improving cardiovascular fitness to reducing stress, here are a few key benefits worth reading:
- Running improves cardiovascular health
It comes as no surprise that running improves your cardiovascular system. Your heart rate increases to pump more blood to your working muscles. And over time, with consistent running, your heart and lungs will adapt to this exercise. Your heart becomes stronger, allowing it to pump a greater volume of blood per beat, and your lungs become more powerful and capable of taking in more air per breath.
As your cardiovascular efficiency improves, you’re able to run faster, with less effort.
- Running increases bone density
High-impact exercises like running place stress on bones that stimulate them to adapt by laying down more minerals within the bony matrix to strengthen the structure. Running also increases the production of bone-building hormones in the body, stimulating the body to make more bone cells and inhibiting the activity of cells that break down bone cells. Stronger bones are more resilient and less likely to fracture.
- Running builds muscular strength
If you are properly fueling your body with enough calories and protein to support your training, running can help build muscle and increase strength. As a total-body workout, running strengthens your legs, core, and upper body.
- Running improves mental health
Running regularly at a moderate or vigorous level can help improve your mental health. Getting outside and pounding the pavement or trail is a great way to alleviate stress and tension. Running can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, which helps you feel more relaxed. Running also improves your memory and ability to learn and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Running burns calories
Running is a metabolically demanding exercise and burns a lot of calories. In fact, running is one of the most efficient types of exercise when it comes to the number of calories burned per minute, so if fat loss or weight loss is your goal, running can help contribute to creating the calorie deficit you need to burn fat.
- Running improves overall health
Consistent running can lower blood pressure and resting heart rate, improve blood sugar control, lower triglycerides, and lower cholesterol. It can also help to reduce waist circumference and body fat percentage. The improvement of these factors can help to reduce the risk of disease and help you feel healthier overall.
If you’re just getting started with running or training for your first 5K, don’t push yourself too hard! It takes the muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments a bit more to adapt to the stresses and impact of running than it does for your cardiovascular system to adapt to the aerobic demands. In other words, you may feel like you can keep going and do more miles from a breathing standpoint, but you should limit your mileage as you get started running to avoid overdoing it on your body and risking musculoskeletal injury. Many beginning runners become overly eager and end up sidelined with an injury in the first few weeks of training. This can be avoided with a conservative, gradual increase in distance and speed.
We hope you keep the benefits of running in mind– especially those currently preparing for the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon. If you’ve been training but have yet to sign up, there is still time to register.
Mercy Health’s orthopedic and sports medicine team of physicians and running medicine specialists are here to help! They are available to assist you during your training and proudly provide medical aid to runners on-site during marathon race weekend.
Learn more about the orthopedic and sports medicine services we offer.