The prevalence of obesity and other lifestyle diseases has put running at the forefront of preventive health practices. Politicians, medics, and other community leaders have been forced to enlighten the public on the implications of chronic inactivity and the importance of regular physical activity for overall well-being. While some initiatives are gaining traction, many people still lead sedentary lifestyles globally. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly. Even though that translates to just 20 minutes of moderate-intensity daily exercise, many people are unlikely to meet the requirement. Activities such as gym training, treadmill, sports, swimming, and cycling require some capital input, making them unsuitable for all categories of people. On the other hand, running requires little to no money, making it suitable for everyone willing to try it.
3 Critical Mental Health Benefits of Running
Despite its reputation as a “sissy” sport, running has many health benefits. Running is beneficial for psychological health, as studies have shown that it improves self-esteem and cognitive capacity. According to Dr. John Ratey, a neuropsychiatrist at the Harvard Medical School, running promotes neurogenesis – the growth of new brain cells. Research has revealed that adults who run regularly have almost double the number of brain cells in their hippocampus compared to adults who do not run. As the hippocampus is the area of the brain associated with memory and learning skills, higher rates of neurogenesis could translate to better cognitive capacity.
Another benefit of running is improved mood. Recent studies have demonstrated a link between aerobic exercise and a better attitude. Regular and consistent exercise increases levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is responsible for improving mood. Similarly, norepinephrine, a hormone involved in emotional regulation, is higher in exercising individuals, especially women. Therefore, regular exercise is associated with controlled emotions or being level-headed.
Running can also reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and improve self-esteem by fostering a sense of control over one’s life and body. It also helps to relieve tension and stress and promote relaxation, which is all-important for maintaining good mental health. You’ve heard it said that running in the morning helps to clear the mind and improve focus.
Health Benefits of Running Everyday: Importance of a Running Routine
Running is undoubtedly beneficial to our health and wellbeing. However, the health benefits of running a mile a day can be more incredible. Numerous studies have shown that routine runners have better cardiovascular health than non-runners and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. There is an inverse relationship between running and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Overall mortality is also lower in people participating in activities such as long-distance running compared to those not engaged in any exercise program. Regular running helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. Additionally, regular running reduces resting heart rate and blood pressure and improves blood flow to the heart.
Aside from cardiovascular and psychological benefits, studies have shown that endurance training such as running boosts immune system functioning and prevents upper respiratory tract infections and colds. If you run regularly, you’ll have lower chances of waking up with a stuffy or runny nose.
Scientists have also established that people who exercise regularly have a more efficient immune system and higher antibody levels that help fight infections. An active lifestyle is critical to maintaining optimal immune functioning as we age. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated to us that having a strong immunity can be the difference between staying alive and dying, further justifying the health benefits of running everyday. A strong immunity can also spare you from the inconveniences of simple illnesses such as the cold or flu.
Lastly, running is vital for staying physically fit and maintaining a healthy weight. It helps to maintain muscle strength and flexibility while building bone density and preventing osteoporosis. An incredible physique can be a source of high self-esteem. Men with six-pack abs are known to flaunt them for various reasons. For the ladies, it is okay to think about that summer body when exercising.
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The Benefits of Running for Students in College
There are several health benefits of running for students. Being in college comes with innumerable stressors that can derail any student. However, staying focused can sometimes require as little as running for 20 minutes daily. Some of its benefits include:
Running regularly develops self-discipline, which students can apply to other areas of their lives. A regular running schedule can make it easier to study consistently for exams. Students with poor time management or organizational skills benefit significantly from having a regular schedule for studying and doing their homework.
Students who run regularly have higher levels of attention than those who don’t. This is likely because running requires focus and concentration, both of which are necessary for academic success. A study by Pennington and colleagues found that middle school students who ran for 30 minutes had significantly higher scores on standardized tests than a control group that did not run. Participating in a marathon or cross-country had little impact, indicating that frequency was important.
The connection between exercise and sleep is relatively well-known among health researchers. Several studies have shown the benefits of regular exercise for reducing stress and improving sleep. For example, a study examining the effects of exercise on sleep in 36 overweight men found that the participants who engaged in regular runs were significantly more likely to experience improved sleep quality than those who did not exercise. Running has been shown to improve total sleep time and efficiency, meaning that people who run are more likely to fall asleep faster and spend more time in a deep state of sleep.
Reduces stress and depression
Running has been established as an effective instrument for reducing stress and depression. A review published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine analyzed 34 studies that examined the effects of physical activity on symptoms of depression and concluded that “all studies but one showed a clear beneficial influence of physical activity…on depressive disorders.” Sometimes all it takes to reduce stress is a morning run in the cold.
Feeling down or depressed takes away a person’s confidence. By running, you’re helping your body release endorphins, chemicals that make you feel good. Research has shown that runners with high self-esteem and self-confidence are more successful than those without. As your confidence grows through running, your schoolwork will also improve.