When you consider the health benefits of running, it’s easy to understand why it is so popular right now.
Running is a popular workout since it is inexpensive and can be done at any time that is convenient for you. Fun runs, sports races, and marathons are all popular among runners, so don’t forget to contact your local running club if you want to compete with other runners.
In this blog, Health and Fitness advocate and former Ironman, Killian Byrne of the Irish Runner magazine, is going to talk you through some the health benefits of running, he’ll answer if running is good for your heart and lungs, and other things.
And don’t forget to check out our other running related blogs, such as a Beginners Guide to Trail Running.
The Health Benefits of Running
“The saying goes ‘You’ll never regret a run’ and while many might dispute the sentiment, there is overwhelming evidence that being active is one of the best interventions we can undertake to improve our wellbeing.
“While it’s clear that moving more can increase our cardiovascular health, weight loss, improve muscle function and help in regulating pain, recent studies show that exercise can be used as part of a treatment plan for more than 20 conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, chronic back pain and in some cases, exercise can play a role in preventing certain types of cancer.
“Parkrun, the global provider of free 5k events for walkers, runners and volunteers, undertook research to examine the benefits being active has on our physical, mental and emotional health. The results were so strong that parkrun teamed up with GP practises around the UK and Ireland to actually prescribe exercise as a tool in the doctor’s arsenal towards improving their patients lives.”
Is Running Good for you Heart and Lungs?
“What’s becoming clear to the medical profession today is the role exercise can have in supporting our personal mindset.
“Regardless of our age or fitness levels just getting outdoors can help lift our mood. All too often nowadays we find ourselves consumed with the pressures of work, family, finance and home life, concerns which have heightened in the enforced lockdown the Coronavirus has brought upon us.
“We are encouraged to get 30 minutes of activity a day and for many even that is becoming a problem.
“But all is not lost, research from Sport Ireland highlights that since the start of the pandemic over one million people in Ireland have become more active, with running being top of the list of activities we like to do and a study by Asics during the pandemic found that 78% of runners said the activity helps to ‘clear their mind’.
“So what benefits of running are people getting out of it?”
“Running gives an opportunity to ‘de-stress’. Getting up, out and away from the desk allows us to forget the pressures of life for a while and whether you chose to run through a forest or jog by the sea the opportunity for a change of scenery provides a rush of endorphins you’ll not find when sitting at your computer in the kitchen. You don’t always have to work up a sweat but being active is an ideal way to boost the body’s ability to deal with tension.”
Enjoy More Family Time
“It’s a chance for family time we may not have had in the past. Long commutes, late meetings, increased workload and lifestyle pressures has meant that previously, families rarely spent any meaningful time in each other’s company. Today, we are not only spending more leisure time together but are actually getting out and exercising together. Children will relish the chance to run with their parents; Parents will treasure the new found time with their children. We’re beginning to understand that the really important things in life are those that are closest to us.”
Achieve Your Goals
“With our running, we get to set personal goals rather than professional ones. The motivation to reach your 10,000 steps, weekly mileage distance or 30 minutes activity a day all work towards deflecting your effort away from the pressures of ‘life’ and focus your emotions towards yourself. Personal goals give us an incentive to maintain the effort we may have planned in our January resolutions. Pick measurable, achievable targets and reward yourself when you reach them. Then when you do achieve your goals, set some more and start again.”
Receive Greater Emotional Support
“Support from friends and family – important because humans are essentially social beasts. Exercising with our family and those in our safe bubble allows us to continue the social connection that has been lost in today’s online ‘zoom meeting’ world. Remember though, exercise connects us emotionally even if we can’t connect physically. We encourage each other to get up and active and reach goals and targets together. Large scale national initiatives like 100 days of walking provide support while helping people reinforce friendships along with building new ones.”
Focus on You
“Most of all though exercise can provide ‘you’ time. Your run, walk, hike or swim is time you can spend in your own thoughts. It is time to think, to contemplate and work through the emotions that may have been weighing on your shoulders with no opportunity for release. Running allows you to direct your attention to yourself rather than on the problems others set you. You’ll be surprised by how much breathing exercises, mindful thinking and mood boosting podcasts can make your run some of the most personally productive time you can get.”
The Benefits of Running for You?
“If you run then you are a runner.
“There’s no special distance or time to reach before the benefits begin, you just need to run. You don’t need to be fast, run far or enter races, you don’t need to have ambitions to run a marathon or collect medals, you just need to start.
“One foot in front of the other. You might jog, then walk, then jog again but consistency will see you get used to being on your feet and what once seems impossible will become normal.
“Three 20 minute runs a week are better than trying to run for an hour every weekend. Don’t overstretch, listen to your body and remember that we never have to run but we do get to run. How we frame our run is key, running is enjoyable and should always be fun.
“The benefits of being active are well documented. It calms us, it makes us more productive, it boosts our brain. Running helps manage stress and improves sleep. Running makes us more productive and increases creativity it. From head to toe the advantages of running are no longer disputed. You might start running to take care of the body but you’ll continue because it’s good for the mind.”
Avoiding Health Risks
Running injuries are common because it is a repetitive, weight-bearing exercise that requires you to work against gravity.
Because shoes help cushion the impact of landing, certain factors, such as not wearing the proper running shoe, can make runners more prone to injury.
However, the most common cause of injury in runners is doing too much too soon. Runners can avoid injury by keeping track of their fitness and making sure they aren’t overtraining.
Injury can occur if you increase your weekly running distance too quickly.
Rest, ice, and pain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen can be used to treat most overuse injuries.
Our Ultimate Guide to Running for Beginners will tell delve into detail on this subject even more.
But remember, the benefits of running for outweigh the risks.
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