Running has a tremendous impact on the human body, and many experts conclude that our bodies are actually biologically designed to run. This will help you better understand how running affects your body, and hopefully inspire you to run your way to a happier, healthier life.
Ever since I was a little girl in P.E. class, I’ve been told that exercising is one of the best things that a person can do for their overall health. My Physical Education teacher once even went further and explained that running is one of the top exercises that one can do to maintain good health. For me, that is as far as the education went until I started doing my own research much later in life. Honestly, I’m not sure if he never elaborated further, or if my teenage brain stopped listening.
There are many positive impacts that come from running on a regular basis. Running has this amazing ability to release hormones into our bodies that can impact our mental health as well as our physical health over time. Some of the effects may be noticed immediately after running, while some will not be apparent right away. Here is a list of 7 positive impacts that a person can expect to see from running.
Improved Mental Health
There’s this phenomenon that is associated with running called the “runners high.” Runners high is commonly described as feeling happier after running. According to Business Insider, once your body and mind acclimate to running it can be blissful, meditative, and provide a sense of freedom. Running can also decrease stress, depression and anxiety.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
During a run your heart is beating much faster to keep up with your bodies demand for oxygen as your muscles are working to keep you moving. Exercising your heart consistently through activities such as running strengthens your heart muscles, which increases its efficiency to pump oxygen throughout your body. Improved cardiovascular health helps your heart to be less taxed by daily activities.
Increased Lung Capacity
For all the individuals that haven’t always included running in their fitness regimen, or for someone just starting their fitness journey, running can very easily make a person feel as though they can’t get enough air. As your Cardiovascular Health improves and your heart is able to keep up with the demand for oxygen, your lung capacity also starts to increase. Many individuals will give up their running aspect of their fitness journey before the body has time to catch up. Lung capacity is something that will take time to build, but with each run your lung capacity will increase.
A lesser-known benefit from running is that it can help build bone strength and mass. Running is known as an “open-chain” exercise, which means that your foot comes off of the ground. According to Roger E. Adams, Ph.D, when your foot strikes the pavement, the long bones in your shin and femur actually ionize. This process causes your bones to pull more calcium and other essential nutrients from the blood, which leads to greater bone density.
Better Body Composition
Body composition is a measure of how much of your body consists of lean muscle, organs, water, bones and fat. For many, running provides a way to balance body composition. Running has the ability to lose unwanted fat and gain desired lean muscles. It is important to note that while running can help achieve a better body composition, it is not the only key to achieve the desired results. A healthy diet, and weight training are also very important tools to keep in mind if you are not achieving the goals that you’ve set forth.
Improved Working Memory
Have you ever had that moment where you walk into the kitchen and you stand there and can’t quite figure out what you walked into the kitchen for? At some point you realize that you have no idea what brought you to the kitchen so you walk back out. As soon as you walk back out, you suddenly remember that you were there for a drink of water. This thought process is called working Memory. According to Business Insider, running has the ability to improve your working memory and being able to stay on task.
According to the ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 14 percent of people that have been diagnosed with Anxiety or depression use exercising as a way to cope with stress. Running produces Endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural pain killers. Endorphins have also been linked to improving sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Even 5 minutes of an aerobic exercise, such as running, can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.