People start running for a variety of reasons. Some run because they want to lose weight, improve their health, compete in races or try something new.
Whatever your reason is for running, you’ll experience many physical, mental and emotional benefits of the sport. Here are some great reasons to get started with running.
1. Running improves your health.
One of the biggest benefits of running is that it’s good for your health. Running is an excellent way to strengthen the heart and ensure the efficient flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, which helps decrease your risk of a heart attack. Exercise, combined with maintaining a healthy weight, is one of the best ways to naturally reduce your blood pressure if it’s above normal. If you have high cholesterol, running can also help keep it in check.
Running also improves your immune system, so your body functions are more effective and efficient at fighting off germs. Running and other weight-bearing exercises increase bone density, which can fend off osteoporosis.
2. You can lose weight.
Many people start running to lose some extra pounds. As one of the most vigorous exercises out there, running is an extremely efficient way to burn calories and lose weight. If you’re already at a healthy weight, running can help you maintain it.
Just make sure you don’t think running gives you a license to eat anything you want. The basic rule of weight loss — that you must burn (through life functions and exercise) more calories than you take in — still applies to runners.
3. Running improves your energy levels.
When you’re feeling sluggish or tired, running is a great way to boost your energy. Runners who run in the morning report that they have improved energy levels during the day. Indeed, a 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day. Combining running with a healthful diet will help improve your energy levels even more.
4. Running will help you feel good about yourself.
Regular runners report an increase in their confidence and self-esteem, and the self-esteem benefits of running are increased if you set a specific goal, such as running a 5K or even a marathon, and accomplish it. These benefits will undoubtedly spill over to other areas, such as your professional and personal life.
5. Running is versatile and inexpensive.
Running requires very little equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere. You don’t even need a gym membership. All you need is a good pair of running shoes, and you can head out your door to go for a run. From city sidewalks to wooded trails, there are plenty of places for runners to explore — at no cost. If you travel a lot, it’s easy to pack your running shoes and run while you’re on the road.
6. Running can help with stress relief.
Running — as with many forms of exercise — is a great cure for stress, emotional strain and even mild depression. Anyone who has experienced a runner’s high knows that the endorphins — those feel-good hormones — produced by running can boost your mood. Research has shown that healthy adults who exercise regularly are generally happier than those who don’t.
7. Social Ties
Running is a great social event. Anyone can lace up a pair of sneakers and hit the road. Talking to running buddies during your runs can be deeply satisfying. Research shows that making strong friendships can help you live a longer and happier life. You’ll be surprised at how large and inclusive the running community can be. Find some local running buddies or join a running club–you will never regret it.