Run into Health and Happiness

Running has long been a prime choice of exercise for many disciplined individuals, but ridiculed by another half for its risks of injury and joint ailments. The controversy couldn’t technically be less up in the air, however. Running is a form of exercise that exceeds any bodily risks by offering an abundance of amazing and much needed benefits; both physically and mentally.

One typically takes up running initially because of the amazing ability to lose weight. In fact, aside from cross country skiing, running burns more calories than any other cardiovascular exercise. Burning an average of 80-100 calories per mile, mostly depending on the weight of the individual (more calories for more weight), it isn’t uncommon for a runner to be able to burn 500 calories in an hour. This rate is significantly higher than the fraction of calories burned by other activities. The body must reach a deficit of 3,500 calories in order to lose one pound, as it will likewise gain a pound when accumulating a surplus of 3,500 calories. Running five miles seven days a week will result in losing a pound a week, which is a really effective, rewarding form of weight loss.

Running utilizes the heart to pump extra blood and produce more oxygen to the body to maintain it while it is working out. During the process of running the arteries expand up to three times that of a sedentary individual, which in turn maintains their elasticity. Because of this, running supports and promotes healthy arteries and optimum blood flow. This directly correlates to decreased heart attacks. It is also a preventative approach to other heart risks; not to mention that it raises “good” (HDL) cholesterol, plus lowers blood pressure in general. Running also helps to fight against many diseases, including reducing the risk of breast cancer and stroke. In fact, running has become a common treatment option prescribed by many physicians when tackling early stages, or even simply high risks, of osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Runners also enjoy the use of up to the remaining 50% of their lungs that are typically not utilized. By creating a higher concentration of lymphocytes (white blood cells that attack disease), running causes a heightened immune system, boosting the body’s ability to reach its optimum general health while fighting against things as simple as the common cold or as serious as cancer.

Another phenomenal benefit of running is the strengthening of muscles and bones. Yes, running actually contributes to greater bone density and results in overall stronger bones and muscles compared to those of non-runners. The body naturally develops around the demand it is placed in, so inactive people with become weak early on in life, while those who run maintain that strength and density, aside from simply remaining more youthful, more coordinated, and definitely more energetic. Those who run are less likely to become afflicted with osteoporosis, and those who already have it experience less of the painful effects than those who don’t run.

There are endless physical benefits to running. Equally, there are amazing mental and psychological gains to this activity as well. Not only does running instill a sense of pride and confidence, it allows the mind a pathway to escape away from everyday stressors. It is also fair to say that running enhances focus and mental clarity and promotes problem solving. Biologically, running causes the brain to release beta endorphins which are essential in relieving pain, and also have the tendency to create a sort of euphoric or light, happy feeling. A runner’s high is real. Running has been proven to increase overall mood and has also been prescribed to treat depression and anxiety. Simply being an avenue of invoking focus, determination, and discipline is also very mentally strengthening. The overall effect of weight loss and the sense of accomplishment by tackling the challenge of running improve self esteem and the effects far beyond the moment of exercise.

Considering the compilation of the many benefits, both physically and mentally, running has been proven from every angle to be an incredibly healthy form of exercise for just about everyone. Of course, it is important to have a good pair of running shoes and to pay attention to your body, as with any other physical activity. However, for those who have always considered running to be a high impact activity that actually takes a heavy toll on the joints and body in general, think again. In every way, the body can benefit from this healthy activity. Joints, muscles, and bones become stronger and more youthful; the heart reaps benefits of lower blood pressure, higher levels of good cholesterol, and more expanded, elastic arteries; the immune system is directly boosted, along with endorphins to increase mood; and the body is given the best opportunity it can to be in the shape it rightfully is supposed to be in. It is an amazing way to sculpt yourself, physically, mentally, and definitely emotionally. Running is very likely the best gift you can give yourself.