Back in 2014 I started running because I discovered all kinds of benefits for it, especially the runner’s high. It’s a euphoric feeling you get after a prolonged cardio workout. Another thing that attracted me to running was the competition aspect, not only from going to a race, but also trying to beat the personal best time from myself and other people.
Although I enjoy the competition side of running, the main thing that keeps me motivated to run is the runner’s high that I love chasing. I really enjoy grinding out those long miles, followed by about half an hour of complete relaxation. I think you gotta go run for at least 30 minutes to enjoy these benefits, and the longer the run the more of the runner’s high you’ll feel.
There are many short and long term health benefits of running regularly every week.
Short Term Benefits
- Runner’s High – Running releases serotonin & dopamine into the brain, these are neurotransmitters that gives you a sense of euphoria also known as the “runner’s high.” The longer and harder the run, the better and more euphoric the high. Unlike drugs, a runner’s high makes you feel amazing and it’s very healthy for you.
- Increase of Energy – It sounds a bit contradictory to feel more energetic after using up so much physical energy on a run, but it’s true. Often when I’m tired the last thing I wanna do is go on a 30-60 minute run, and often times I lack the discipline to run while tired. The rare times that I manage to make myself do it, I have not once regretted it afterwards. Every time without fail I feel more energy, mental clarity, and focus.
- Decreases Stress – No matter what’s going on in your life, going for a long run will clear your head and make your troubles seem smaller. The body is not designed to be stagnant, I find personally that the more sedentary my lifestyle gets, the more stressed out I feel over every little 1st world problem. Running is the best way to get your heart pumping, which releases the feel good chemicals that lifts your mood, decreases stress, and have you look at your 1st world problems from a different perspective.
Long Term Benefits
- Weight Loss – Running burns a lot of calories, you can burn about 400-600 calories in just an hour of continuously running at a 10 minute per mile pace. You lose 1lb of body fat for every deficit of 3500 calories. So you can find out how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight by using this calculator here, then figure out how much you’d need to run to lose the amount of weight you want.
- Improves self esteem – After you have achieved some level of weight loss, you’ll likely begin to look and feel better about yourself. When you run consistently you’ll get better, faster, and more athletic, so you will feel more confident and more in control of your physical body.
- Good Treatment for Depression – All kinds of exercises releases feel-good chemicals such as dopamine into your brain, but running is particularly good for this. It has been said that regular running is an under-prescribed way of treating people with depression, and that it can be as effective, if not more so, than anti-depressant medication.
- Lowers Blood Pressure – The heart benefits tremendously when you run regularly. It gets stronger over time and therefore works more efficiently by pumping the same amount of blood with less effort, this decreases the force on your arteries. Many kinds of exercises can lower blood pressure, but cardio exercises such as running, jogging, swimming, cycling, or dancing is particularly good for this.
- Decrease Risk of Heart Disease – If you run just an hour a week, your odds of developing heart disease fall by 50%.
- Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis – There’s this myth floating around that says running is bad long term for your joints, but this is actually false. Yes, running is taxing on your knee joints, but every time it rest and heals it will get stronger afterwards. As long as you’re not overdoing it, your bones will heal and get thicker and stronger, reducing your risks of osteoporosis.
- Decrease Risk of Cancer – Studies from the Public Health Sciences Division have found that regular running can decrease your chances of getting certain types of cancer. Running lowers blood estrogen so for women this means decreased risk of breast cancer, running has also been shown to reduce colon polyps and colon cancer in men.
- Better Sleep – There has been some anecdotal evidence to suggest that running helps people with insomnia. As a runner myself, I definitely feel this is true. Some nights when I can’t sleep it’s often due to boredom, stress, feeling depressed, and generally stuff that can be cured by running. I can only speak for myself, but I think I sleep much better on nights that I have went for a long run.
- Stress Resistant – Not only does running relieve stress right away after you go for a run, but some studies have shown that regular running restructures the brain so that it becomes more resistant to stress and anxiety.
The Right Fuel for Runners
After a long run I often replenish my body with lots of liquid and a nice big fruit smoothie, the fruits deliver energy and vitamins to help my body recover, heal, and get stronger. I feel that a big jug of fruit smoothie is the best thing for your body after a long strenuous aerobic exercises. Sugar and carbs are great if you’re an endurance athlete, it supplies your body with clean burning fuel for optimal performance and recovery. Look at long distance Kenyan runners and what they eat, a high carb dish made with corn called Ugali is often consumed. Carbs are the most efficient fuel for the body, and a fruit smoothie is by far the best pre and post workout meal for you imo.
Read More: 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Fruit Smoothies
Also check out this post: Are Store Bought Smoothies Healthy?
The thing about running and exercising in general is that I find it’s often hard to get started, especially on days when I feel depressed or lethargic, but once started I always feel glad that I did it. The trick is to get started and be consistent with it afterwards, once you successfully incorporate running into your routine, you will go to it as a treatment every time you feel depressed, anxious, bored, or shitty for any reason.
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