Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise and for a good reason. Find out what amazing benefits this type of exercise offers.
One important thing to note is that while running can change your body for the better, it can also be relatively challenging for body parts like your ankles, knees, and back.
People who are relatively new to working out and/or have a few extra pounds to lose may want to start with lighter running alternatives instead.
1. Running can improve your cardiovascular health
Running is generally a cardiovascular exercise. It will work your cardiovascular system which includes your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
The main thing stopping you from going faster will typically be you getting out of breath.
This tends to be a benefit of running because working your cardiovascular system enough (but not too much) can lead to a variety of processes that strengthen it.
Keep in mind that there is also the possibility of challenging this cardiovascular system too much. If you have been inactive for a few years, going straight to sprinting workouts is typically not the best idea.
2. Running can help you lose weight
The movements involved in running require more energy from your body than typical daily activities. In turn, it becomes more likely you get to a point where you use up more energy than is coming in.
In simpler words, running can help you lose weight if your habits in other lifestyle areas are good enough.
While there is a way to overdo it, for many people, losing weight will be a benefit since having excess body fat leads to a variety of negative consequences.
Exactly how many calories running burns depends on a lot of details.
A rough estimation is that the average person will burn around 266-457+ calories while running 5.2 mph (8.4 kmh) for 30 minutes.
Running is generally one of the best exercises for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
Keep in mind that whether running burns belly fat or gets these calories from other sources also depends on your habits in other areas.
3. Running can improve muscle endurance
As mentioned, running is mainly a cardiovascular workout. This means you should not really expect too much from it in terms of actual muscle growth.
That being said, working your muscles with running can still offer other benefits. Before going into these, some of the main muscles you work with running are your:
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
- To some extent core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae
Even if you don’t actually grow these, working your muscles with running can still improve muscle endurance, slow down degradation, and make the muscles healthier.
If you like the idea of engaging these muscles a lot during your cardiovascular workouts, you can consider running with weights like a weighted vest.
That being said, keep in mind that this can be too hard on your body. Turning to resistance training exercises for this will often be a smarter idea.
4. Running can improve your mood
How you feel in terms of mood is the result of a variety of physical processes. That also means you can implement certain habits to improve it.
More specifically, workouts like running can help with this in a variety of ways.
Secondly, as you can see in some of the other benefits, running can reduce your risk of a variety of negative conditions. This helps you avoid feeling suboptimal.
5. You can run almost anywhere
Some sports and activities are not that flexible in terms of where you can do them. There are many cases where you have to spend time driving to your local gym or a sports field.
This requires you to spend extra time before being able to start moving.
One of these trips feels and is not that much but if you add up all the time of many workouts, this becomes considerable.
Luckily, many people will not have this issue with running.
First of all, running outside or in the park nearby could be an option where you live.
Additionally, you could even consider investing in a treadmill to do your running workouts in the comfort of your own home.
6. Running is relatively budget-friendly
Many workouts also require you to invest a decent amount of money in workout equipment and/or a gym subscription.
While this can still be worth doing, running could be a more budget-friendly alternative.
If you have the ability to run in your local neighborhood, running only requires you to get a good pair of shoes and potentially some new workout clothes if you don’t have these yet.
This can be a helpful benefit for people with a limited fitness budget.
7. Running can improve your bone density
Something that deserves more attention is that bones are not just static pieces of material inside of your body. More specifically, they can adapt in relation to the way you challenge them.
Running is relatively helpful for this because all the jumps involved are relatively challenging for your bones. At least compared to more low-impact workouts like cycling, rowing, and especially swimming.
One study looked at the difference in bone mineral density between 60 cross-country runners and 47 non-running controls with similar age and BMI.
As expected their findings suggest that running is beneficial for bone mineral density (10).
Better bone density can be helpful for avoiding broken bones. Not just today but in the future too.
This is important because the older you get, the harder it tends to be to improve bone density.
If you are interested in improving bone density even more you also want to consider doing heavy compound weight lifting exercises. The extra weight you use pressures your bones even more.
8. Running technique is straightforward
Even if it has been a while, running is a relatively straightforward movement for humans. This is helpful because it allows you to get the other benefits of running immediately.
This may sound like a normal thing but there are exercises and sports that involve a relatively steep learning curve.
That means you either have to spend some time before being able to get the full health benefits of the activity or that your injury risk is somewhat higher.
Luckily, you don’t really have to worry about these things for running besides choosing on what parts of your feet you want to land first.