Running has always been described as a foolproof recipe for losing weight and shaping up, and while that still holds true, there’s so much more to it than keeping your calorie count in check. From a longer lifespan to a happier brain, below are some of the most amazing – and often overlooked – ways that hitting the pavement on a regular basis can drastically change your life for the better.
1. Running Can Fight Depression
Science has a good explanation for that surge of happiness you experience after an especially grueling gym session. Heart-pumping exercise like running releases endorphins, the brain’s ultimate feel-good chemicals. The sense of wellness, calm and confidence they create can linger long after your body is back to base for a mental pick-me-up that lasts all day.
2. Relieve Stress
It may be more closely tied to emotions, but stress is very much a threat to the physical health. When left unchecked, it can lead to insomnia, muscle tension, heart disease, high blood pressure, premature aging and fatigue. Along with being a natural antidepressant, cardiovascular exercise like running is a proven stress buster. Just a short jog around the block can melt tension and give your mind a much-needed chance to unwind.
3. Protect Your Joints
The age-old belief that running every day or for long distances is a one-way ticket to irreversible joint problems like arthritis is a little bit of a myth. Although inactivity used to be the prescription for joint disease in the past, doctors today have completely reversed course after regular exercise was shown to improve the strength, flexibility and adaptability of joint cartilage. The key to making running work for your joints and not against them is to avoid unnecessary strain by always maintaining proper form, increasing muscle mass and giving even small injuries time to heal.
4. Live a Longer, Healthier Life
Recent research shows that clocking as few as six miles a week is enough to give your lifespan a three-to-six year extension, but it’s not just about the raw numbers. Proven perks like a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and dementia mean that runners enjoy an overall higher-quality of life at any age.
5. Improve Your Balance With Running
It’s no secret that running is a killer workout for your legs, but did you know that it’s also an effective full-body stabilizer? Staying in continuous motion also works your shoulders, arms and especially your core, which automatically helps train your body to maintain flawless posture and balance when you return back to your normal pace.
6. Unlock Your Full Potential
The psychological benefits of running are just as valuable as the physical ones. While an increase in endorphins acts as an instant mood boost behind the scenes, the feeling of accomplishment that running creates serves as powerful inspiration for going after other meaningful goals at home and in your professional life.
7. Meditate on the Go
From enhancing concentration to curbing overthinking to fine-tuning the connection with your inner self, the ancient art of meditation can make a big impact on how you feel, but not everyone has time for consistent practice. By forcing you to stay focused while still leaving your subconscious mind plenty of room to relax and free roam, running delivers many of the same benefits as meditation without adding to your to-do list.
With modern life moving at lightning speed, making your well-being a priority has never been more important. Running regularly grounds you back in the present moment and revitalizes your body from head to toe – the perfect formula for a healthier, happier and stronger you every step of the way.