Running is the most convenient, straightforward form of exercise. It is something you can do anytime, anywhere. All you need are two to three things – a pair of running shoes, a place to run (in your pavement, backyard or the park), and good music. This is a cheap but effective form of exercise. No need to pay for gym fees, or buy fitness equipment and no complex skill needed as well.
According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, about five to ten minutes a day of running adds several years to our life. Consistent low-intensity running gives so many benefits no wonder it has become the most popular workout. Below are some of the benefits of running to inspire you to set your foot forward one day at a time.
It lifts your mood
Ever heard of runner’s high? It turns out, feel-good hormones are released after about 30 minutes of running according to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Running is a good antidote to life’s stressors. While running, a chemical in our body called norepinephrine is released and this manages our brain’s response to stress.
Running helps you lose weight
Exercise including running helps you burn calories while you’re working out. According to a study, running is an effective exercise in losing weight compared to other aerobic activities because you burn more calories in a minute while running. Increasing the intensity of your workout by going extra miles can help you drop pounds in no time. High-intensity running creates the so-called afterburn – this is when our bodies still burn calories even though you are not moving. Moreover, you also burn more calories when you have more lean muscles. How to achieve them? Build muscles with different strength exercises so the risk of getting injuries while running will also be lower. Top it off with a balanced, well-planned diet and you will get the results that you want in no time.
It keeps you sharper as you age
Regular exercise improves functions observed to be difficult to execute as we age such as task switching, selective attention, language, and memory. It maintains cognitive function for the elderly. The same endorphins responsible for your good mood while running also stimulates the growth of brain cells. Some even use running as an avenue to think about their problems or when they have to make decisions because it promotes focus and mental sharpness.
It improves your cardiovascular health
Running as an aerobic exercise helps deliver oxygen throughout the body effectively. Over time, it strengthens the muscles of your heart while minimizing its’ workload. It makes the heart more efficient because it can pump a larger volume per beat. According to Clinical Sports Medicine, distance running has positive effects on people with cardiovascular risks as evidenced by lower coronary death rates.
While the above-mentioned benefits should motivate you more in running. Here are some proven and effective tips to help you get started.
Set realistic goals
You need to find your sweet spot. Find your most comfortable tempo, and distance while maintaining the challenge. Start with a pace that is not too aggressive especially when you’re starting out. Increase the challenges gradually so you avoid fatigue or injuries while running. Beginners can start with walking and shift it to a combination of walking and running. You will be surprised how adaptable our body is during running.
Run with others or listen to music
A study conducted by Oxford University showed that endorphin release is significantly higher among athletes with a companion compared to one going solo. Another research also resulted in spiked happy hormones due to music. So, make running extra fun while you run with your dog, partner, or simply put on your headphones and run with the tempo.
Running at your optimum level will not be possible without proper hydration. Train your body to rehydrate wisely especially in the summer. Athletes always take heat into consideration and they follow a proper hydrating regimen to avoid dehydration or hyponatremia.
Here’s a sample practical plan you can follow for proper hydration.
The day before: Drink enough water. Observe your urine color. If it looks like a light lemonade, then you’re drinking enough.
Before running: Drink about 2 glasses of water two hours before you run.
During running: Sip occasionally if you’re running for about less than an hour. Hydrate every 15 minutes if you’re running for more than an hour.
If water seems plain and boring, you can also opt for electrolyte tablets dissolved in your water bottle for a change. Set your hydration app to beep during your hydration times so you will be reminded. It would also be helpful if you have an over-the-back hydration pack instead of carrying a bottle while you run because the latter increases the effort you need to extend while affecting your arm momentum.
Running is an easy, doable exercise especially when you’re already comfortable with your form. It is appealing to different age groups because of its convenience and benefits. Practicing a few proven tips to strategize your running routine makes it even more manageable while building your athleticism. Lastly, make this exercise as fun as it can be with the above-mentioned tips. Running is rewarding as it is. Consistency is just another challenge you have to beat to get that elusive euphoria – the runner’s high.