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Prioritize Your Fitness Goals on a 5K, Avoiding Risky Marathon Training

Prioritize Your Fitness Goals on a 5K, Avoiding Risky Marathon Training

As Americans, we often think that if a little bit of something is good for us, then more of that item or activity must be even better. However, when it comes to running, the studies and research prove just the opposite — more is not necessarily better and can even be harmful. As a runner, you do not want to waste your time exercising, but unfortunately, you might be doing just that! For example, a report from the Mayo Clinic indicated that running longer distances did not provide any additional mortality benefits for participants.

Instead, consider the following five specific health benefits of training for and running 5Ks as reported by the National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Study. Even if you don’t run like a cheetah, you can still enjoy lower cholesterol and the following reduced risks of several diseases by dialing your exercise routine down. Embrace the cardio and learn to love to run, knowing these benefits can be expected you can really get moving. Just be sure to move a little faster than a turtle!

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1. Respiratory Diseases

Running increases aerobic capacity and the efficient use of oxygen. Whether you are chasing your kids at the park or chasing down your next business deal, running can improve your odds of catching both. Although counterintuitive, running even helps control asthma in some participants because it provides overall strength to the respiratory system.

2. Heart Disease

Similar to a reduced risk of breathing problems, you can logically conclude that runners have a reduced risk of heart disease — you are literally running away from these health issues as you heart works hard to keep the blood circulating through your body and pumping through your veins. To be more specific, runners decrease their risk of both high blood pressure and heart disease by a staggering 40 percent.

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3. Cataracts

While it’s hard to envision that running can actually help your eyesight, studies bear out this truth. One explanation might be that running impacts overall lifestyle issues, such as diabetes, which can further impact eye health. So forget the carrots to help your vision, put on your running shoes, and hit the pavement!

4. Arthritis

You might have exclaimed, “Oh, my aching knees,” and assumed that running would ruin your joints, causing you to limp and feel and look older than you are. On the contrary, research bears out that running reduces the risk of both hip replacements and osteoarthritis by 20 percent above and beyond that of walkers. Experts theorize that running more effectively reduces body mass index when compared with walking. Runners who average between 15 and 23 miles weekly — well within the training ranges for 5Ks — further decrease their risk of both maladies by 50 and 16 percent respectively over those who run fewer than eight miles each week.

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5. Alzheimer’s Mortality

Simply put, a runner’s brain works better than someone who doesn’t run. Blood circulation increases oxygen to the brain, improving the connections between synapses and enhancing overall brain function. However, running will not completely prevent Alzheimer’s. Even so, at least one study shows that running is more effective than prescriptions in combating Alzheimer’s — without the nasty side effects of the drugs.

Finally, nearly all studies conclude that, overall, runners age more gracefully. Additional listed benefits include improved mental tasks, overall cognitive functions, attention to detail, decreased depression, less anxiety, increased resistance to injury and related health improvements. Even more significant — the studies indicated that the earlier you begin exercising, the greater the benefit for you and the more you delay overall aging. Not only will you extend your lifespan, but you will also improve your quality of life in general. And that’s something that could certainly benefit everyone.

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Kevin Jones

Content Strategist

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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