Exercise is good for you. Everyone knows that. But all too often, our thoughts on exercise focus on the gym. This is a problem. People who cannot afford the cost or find the time for a gym membership get discouraged, stop exercising, and watch their health decline.

You can exercise anywhere

But exercise is not complicated. Even the simple act of running for a few minutes per day can go a long way towards improving your physical and mental health. If you have worked out regularly in the past, you should know this. Yes, you feel exhausted at the end. But as your heart beats, your muscles ache, and your lungs heave, you feel alive in a way which you have not in some time.

Here are some of the benefits which even a short run or walk can get your body over time. And if you do not exercise enough, here are key tips to make sure that you do exercise enough for a healthier, better you.

Even a short run can do a lot

According to the Huffington Post, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that running for just 50 minutes each week “can protect the body from risk for stroke, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even some cancers.”

And these are just a few benefits which researchers have found with going on a short run. Running also builds up your muscles and bones. This ensures that they will be denser in old age, hold up better, and prevent osteoarthritis. Running can also ensure that you sleep more soundly at night, improve your memory and metabolism, and ward off stress.

Perhaps most importantly of all, researchers found that running 60 minutes a week adds an average of 3 years to your life. In a society where plenty of people do not exercise at all, even a short run can place you well above average on the health spectrum.

How to get up and start running

But running is hard, especially outdoors. It is almost always either too hot, too cold, or too wet, and something goes wrong whenever you actually decide to run.

However, it can be done. It should first be noted that if you are not confident you are fit enough to run, even regular walking can improve your health in largely the same ways which regular running can.  If you have not worked out in a long time, then the first thing which you should do is to start walking regularly.

After all, the most difficult part about running really is not the run itself. It is about having the concentration and will necessary to get out there and run on a regular time for a regular length. Establishing a routine is hard, but it is super important that it is done.

But while running should be a routine, it should not be a chore. And we all know that society makes us feel like grabbing a hoverboard for even short distances is normal. There are other, less technological ways of making running fun.

Check out what’s around you on the run

For example, lose the MP3 or iPod when you go running, and actually take a real look at the world around you. Watch other runners going by, or whatever interesting sights on the road. This can be even better if you are exercising in an area with a lot of nature.

Push yourself to be faster

Another method is to race and constantly push yourself to complete a certain stretch within a faster and faster period of time. This was a method I like to use when I go running. By continually pushing yourself to be faster, you can gain a real sense of accomplishment. Such a method does take time, as there will be long stretches when you do not get any faster at all and your body just continues to hurt. But as long as you keep at it and know how much better you’re feeling, it will work out for you over the long run.

Smile and keep running!

With our light frame and ability to lose heat by sweating, human beings evolved to be able to run for long stretches of time. Out in the African Serengeti, there are still native tribes which hunt prey by simply chasing the animal and forcing it to collapse from heat exhaustion.

We may not run as much as those men today, but even short runs and walks can have plenty of health benefits over the long term. As long as you make it fun and keep up a routine, you can soon find yourselves feeling better both in body and mind.

Featured photo credit: Torrey Wiley via flickr.com

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