All of the Health Benefits of Running Will Blow You Away!
An excellent level of health and fitness can be available to everyone at any age at any level of fitness with a simple pair of running shoes. It is no surprise that the health benefits of running are immense because news stories like the ones below crop up in the news several times a year.
- Late Bloomers Prove You Can Run at Any Age
- At 60 Years Old She Started Running and Lost 40 lbs
- Running Up Mountains at Age 97
But what exactly are the benefits? Most people who survive into their 90’s have one thing in common: they are active. Being active by simply running or walking does so much to support our physical health as well as our happiness in life.
Wherever you are in your fitness, I want to inspire you go to the next level one step at a time. When you are at the next level, go to the next. One step at a time. One of the most important things we can do for our health is to constantly to improve or at least maintain the fitness that we have.
If you are sedentary then, I want you to walk, stretch, or do chair yoga everyday. If you walk occasionally, then I want you to walk everyday. If you walk everyday, then I want you to walk farther, faster, or start running!
How do you start running? By walking.
You might be thinking, “Oh, I am not a runner! I could never do that!” To be a runner you don’t need to step out your door today and go run a mile right now. Actually, that is a good way to get injured! Wherever you are in your fitness, start there. Start by walking! Walk longer and then walk faster. Eventually those walks will feel easy, and you will be ready to add in some running. The way to start running is to start walking, and eventually integrate a few intervals of running into your walks. With time, the intervals of running will get longer and faster. However, there are a few things you should know about getting into running to make sure you stay safe and injury free. Check out the basics of how to start running, plus some other resources, here.
Why are the health benefits of running better than walking?
As far as calorie burning, walking and running basically burn the same calories over the same distance. Running obviously burns the calories in less time, but there is more to it. Because running is an intense cardio exercise, your body will continue to burn more calories long after you have finished running, this effect is called the afterburn. Walking, a much less intense activity, has no afterburn effect on your metabolism. So, if you take the afterburn affect into account, running will cause your body to burn more calories.
Walking, however, is much lower impact than running. So, if you do another intense activity that breaks down muscle fibers, you can still add some walking with out over-working muscles. For example, I will often lift, even if I do legs, and go for a walk on the same day, but I would not run and lift legs on the same day.
Cardiovascular benefits of running over walking
Because running gets your heart pumping harder than walking, it has greater cardiovascular benefits. Running is a better workout for your heart and cardiovascular system than walking. Here is an article about it!
- Strengthens heart muscle
- Lowers resting heart rate, so you heart works less when you are resting
- Strengthens arteries, which leads to lower blood pressure
- Lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL Cholesterol
- Weight loss
What are other benefits of running?
For me, mental health benefits of running are the most notable. These benefits often get overlooked, because when we think about adding physical activity into our lives, we do so because we want to feel or look physically better. But, the truth is, the mental health benefits of running are just as great as the physical benefits. The stories like you see below, are endless. Most runners, if you ask them, do not run to be fit, they run because of the way it makes them feel. Run walk jog, all three can help manage depression, stress, and anxiety.
Whatever stress and anxiety you experience in your life, studies show that you will be less impacted by it if you are a runner. Running teaches our bodies to adapt better to stress, any kind of stress. I have summed it all up in this post about the positive impact running can have on mental health. I also point you to several additional resources in this post!
How to break through running plateaus
When you start running, whether it is for weight loss or fitness, you will inevitably hit a plateau. Because our bodies are designed to work as efficiently as possible, as we pick up a running routine, our bodies will get more efficient at the activity, which means it gets easier. To break through a plateau in running performance or in running weight loss, you have to shake things up!
Track workouts are a great way to do this. My favorite thing about track workouts is that they are mostly walking. That is right. Walking.
I am super fortunate and have a track a mere 10 minute walk from home. Also, I am fortunate because I remember my ENTIRE plyometrics routine from high school track. I had great track coaches back in high school. They even were invited to volunteer at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia! So, I know my plyometrics routine comes from well trained and knowledgeable people. Here is my entire plyometrics routine. I can’t believe that I used to do this 4.25 mile routine to warm up and then go run 5 or 7 more miles!
I got into barefoot running because of a mystery injury. Normally, this is why people stop barefoot running. Most people do not transition to barefoot running properly and end up injured.
I had an injury that was just making its way down my kinetic chain. Something that started as a muscle imbalance in my right hip, migrated to my knee, then to my ankle, then to my toe. My kinesthesiologist prescribed me weight lifting, a pair of barefoot running shoes, and a book on barefoot running.
I started slow into barefoot running. I was coming off a small injury. Making the transition prompted a hyper focus on form. I tried to feel my body push and work in the same ways the book described. In the end, I ran with MUCH better from than before, I ran with more speed, and I ran in a way that was better for my body and muscles. Personally, I have gone 100% barefoot shoes, and my feet have never been healthier and my kinetic chain is getting to working right. Check out some barefoot gear in this post.
Thank you for reading! I hope to have left you with inspiration and ideas to get out there and keep running or to start a brand new sport!