Put the Fun Back in your Run – The Benefits of Running

May 4, 2011

Running is among the most straightforward and cost-effective forms of exercise available. Way before there were gymnasia along with all the other sports that have evolved over the centuries, there was running. We are meant to run.

If you want to run, but don’t want to be too competitive about it, doing a fun run is a fantastic way of getting fit, achieving a goal, and raise funds for charity. You can train to finish the run full-steam ahead, aim for a personal best or choose to stride the whole way in costume. When you put the fun back in your run, everybody benefits. The personal benefits – both physical and mental – of running for our wellness are numerous and diverse.

Body Benefits
Running benefits your body in many ways, including:

1.   It Strengthens the Heart:  Enabling it to pump blood more effectively around the body (whether when exercising or in relaxation mode) which in turn ensures that oxygen is sufficiently transported around the body. This also keeps the arteries in good condition so that they are better able to flush out any harmful fatty deposits that tend to stick themselves to the artery walls. So long, risk-of-heart-attack!

2.   It lowers Blood Pressure:  When the arteries are more elastic, this facilitates the flow of blood, which is why long distance runners are rarely prone to high blood pressure and therefore have little need to take medication to control this.

3.   It increases Lung Capacity:  The body’s need to absorb more oxygen means that the capillaries allow blood to pass more easily into the lungs. This strengthens the lungs and maintains healthy respiratory function, whether we’re snoozing or going for gold.

4.   It Conditions Muscles:  Rarely do you see a runner with excessive wobbly bits. Running leads to better muscle tone which in turn metabolizes fat so that unwanted amounts of the stuff don’t make themselves too ‘at home’ in our bodies. Improved muscle tone also protects the joints from injury during both aerobic activity and daily ho-hum tasks.

5.   It Builds Stronger Bones:  Research has demonstrated that running actually increases bone density which means that our bones are able to withstand greater resistance and are also able to endure and heal more rapidly from any painful fractures.

6.   It Regulates the Bowel:  Not something that’s widely advertised, but the movement of running coupled with a better flow of oxygen keeps things ‘regular’ – one sure sign of a healthy metabolism.

Mind Benefits
Running also provides many benefits to your mind:

1.    It Reduces Stress:  Running triggers endorphins which induce a sense of euphoria – you may have heard of the ‘runner’s high’. It’s virtually impossible to feel so elated and feel stressed by anything at the same time. Stress receptors are effectively suppressed leading to an overall sense of wellbeing – as well as physically being all-of-a-tingle, mentally you feel all aglow.

2.   It Diminishes Depression:  Practitioners in psychotherapy have been known to suggest running to alleviate clinical depression, and to good effect. Whilst running, the brain is so focused on the action being undertaken and the anticipation of reaching a destination, as well as being caught up in the euphoria of rapid physical movement, that it is unable to dwell on negative thoughts that form the basis of depression.

3.   It Encourages Focus:  Running can offer one of life’s sometimes elusive ‘being in the now’ moments. There is little time to ponder on the past or worry about the future – it’s just you and your body on the go, in the present. The mind is alert to any potential obstacles and concentrated on the very ‘doing’ of running. It combats mental fatigue which can be brought about by stress.

4.   It Develops Confidence:  There’s nothing quite like the sense of achievement felt after reaching a target distance, completing a run or running into what feels like infinity. And with such noticeable physical benefits it’s easier for self-doubt to be quashed and self-belief to reach new heights.

Want to run and looking for support?  Join the Springday Jog Squad.

Benefits to being a member of the Jog Squad:
KNOWLEDGE – Keep informed and inspired with all the relevant articles featured regularly on the Springday website.

TRAINING – As a Springday member you will have unlimited access to your own personal program, whether you intend to run 5km, a half-marathon, or create your own running schedule. This maps out day-by-day what you need to do to reach your goal, whether it’s specific stretching exercises, running or a rest day.

EQUIPMENT – All you need are a substantial pair of well-fitted running shoes (we LOVE Mizuno), appropriate athletic attire and you’re good to go.

ACCOUNTABILITY – Springday programs allow you to track your progress every step of the way. We realize that training effectively doesn’t only involve focusing on the distance you aspire to run, but also sufficient sleep, nutrition and relaxation. All the tools and resources you need ensure this and keep you on course are at your fingertips.

Before you know it, you’ll be reaching your……GOAL!

Written by Cassandra Duell, Springday Writer

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