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The many health benefits of running

  • 10 Apr, 2019
  • Prescription Doctor

Running is an excellent exercise for many reasons. It strengthens your core muscles and cardiovascular system. It's very economical and convenient. You can do it anywhere, including inside your home. You don't need special equipment or attire, except for a pair of adequate shoes.

Deciding when and where to run

Dedicated runners usually run rain or shine, but some runners substitute an indoor treadmill on occasion. It's possible to run in place or around the rooms of your house if you don't have a treadmill. Some dedicated runners spend most of their time running on a treadmill at home in order to look after kids. They may venture outdoors only occasionally or to participate in races or events.

Although running at any time of day brings benefits, a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research indicates that flexibility and strength are greatest in the late afternoon. Also, the amount of exertion we perceive while working out is the lowest later in the day. Scientists believe this is due to our circadian rhythm, which is our body's 24-hour clock. It causes our body temperature to peak in the evening.

Running positively impacts your mental health

Running isn't just good for our physical body, it's also good for our mental health. Many studies have concluded that regular aerobic exercise decreases symptoms of clinical depression. Some studies indicate running boosts self-esteem, even in overweight children. Other have found the benefits of running to include boosting creativity, decreasing cravings for unhealthy foods and substances, and aiding the brain in healing from substance abuse.

One reason why running is so good for mental health is because of chemicals released while we run. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins. Endorphins affect receptors in the brain that reduce our perception of pain. Endorphins also give us feelings of well-being, similar to feelings induced by the drug morphine. They also act as a sedative. Regular exercise, like running, has also been shown to reduce stress, ward off anxiety, and improve sleep.

Running can be meditative

Running can also be used as a form of mindfulness or meditation. In fact, for those who like to both meditate and run, it's possible to do them simultaneously. First, you need to run until in your relaxed zone. Then, focus on one thing, like your breath moving in and out of your nostrils or the present moment and all that you can sense or experience in it. Stay focused on this one thing and gently redirect your mind to it when it strays. Do this for as long as you enjoy it. If you find you're becoming oblivious to your surroundings, then stop. It should be making you more aware, not less.

Make your running enjoyable

Running is also a good time to enjoy your favourite tunes via earphones or earbuds. Recent studies indicate that listening to music while running can actually increase your running performance. It's best to run in beautiful surroundings, if possible, since they have been shown to relieve stress and improve our mental health. Make sure you're well hydrated and have water with you if it's warm outside. Dress to suit the weather, but lighter than usual since you'll generate warmth from exercising.

Taking care of your general health

Most people don't consider running for regular exercise unless they consider themselves to be in optimal health. Being in optimal health isn't necessary since you can modify your workout. When first starting out you can walk or jog, then gradually work up to a run and for longer lengths of time.

Also, those who suffer from hay fever or asthma symptoms shouldn't let that impair them from running. There are precautions you can take to minimize your chances of experiencing hay fever symptoms or an asthma attack while running:

  • Stay indoors during high air pollution levels.
  • Exercise inside when there's a high pollen count.
  • Take a break from running while recovering from respiratory illness.
  • Don't run in cold, dry air.
  • Carry a reliever inhaler or nasal spray with you while you run in case you need it.

Running is an exercise anyone can do to keep themselves in shape. Running engages your core muscles and keeps your cardiovascular system strong. It increases your endurance, which helps you cope with the stresses of everyday life, lowers blood pressure, and can be used as a form of meditation.

If you suffer from hay fever or asthma, but still want to enjoy and reap the benefits of running, always ensure you carry appropriate medicine with you on your run.