Exercise is medicine, and running is one of the best kinds – no equipment or accessories needed! If you ever thought about taking up running as a hobby, there are some huge benefits like the fact that it increases your cardiovascular capacity, it reduces the risk of heart disease, it burns calories, it relieves stress, it gets you outdoors, it helps fight osteoporosis and best of all, it’s free!
As running is a weight-bearing exercise, it helps build bone density in the legs, hips and lower spine, and keep them strong. Particularly when we start entering our 30s and over, there is a steady decline in bone density and an increased risk in developing osteoporosis.
Running also keeps your weight in check. Obese adults have a X5 higher risk of developing osteoporosis, as well as other health issues like osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and heart disease, when compared to people of a healthier weight.
Research has shown that compared to non-runners, those who ran had a 45% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
It’s no secret that regular exercise like running has been shown to help keep arteries and other blood vessels flexible – good blood flow and normal blood pressure and cholesterol is integral in maintaining a long, healthy and happy lifestyle.
Running can also help lower blood pressure and decrease production of glucose which also cuts the risk of developing diabetes.
It’s worth noting that the benefits of running go beyond the physical too. Running can help with stress, it can bolster mental clarity, and it can help flush out toxins which leads to healthier looking skin! Bonus.
As a regular runner, there are considerations to take into account that are worth sharing before you head out for a long run:
• Make sure you mix up your fitness regime – you don’t want to ONLY be running as this will take a toll on your joints (especially in the knees and ankles). Your body will adapt to just running, so over time, you won’t be challenging yourself. Research suggests that any more than 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week of moderate intensity may actually increase the risk of damaging your heart.
• Switch up your morning by cross training to keep your body guessing and increase your power and strength. Focus on your core, strength and conditioning and stretch with exercises in yoga, weights, TRX and pilates. This will ensure that you improve your speed and reduce the risk of injury.
• Try interspersing your run with bench work – tricep dips, toe taps, mountain climbers, and burpees.
• Watch the mileage you’re clocking up and don’t ignore skeletal niggles (hips and knees) as they’ll only get worse and interfere with your progress! Ignoring aches and pains could lead to serious injury if left unchecked, which will be a real pain for your exercise routine as well as your body.
• It’s true that running is superb at torching calories, but you can go too far and end up with ‘runner’s face’ – losing plumpness in your face. Your cheeks might start to sag from all the bouncing while you run, and there is a chance you will see signs of premature ageing from too much fat burning beneath the skin! There’s a debate over whether this is just an urban legend, but I always think it’s better to be safe than sorry!
• Stay safe from the sun – make sure you wear proper sunscreen when you go running, as this is often overlooked, and lack of protection can lead to serious damage to your skin.
• Remember to keep hydrated. Female runners should up their calcium and iron intake as well, as these can easily get depleted.
• One for the ladies: Last but not least, invest in the best bra you can find! A properly fitted sports bra that ensures no jiggle whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if you’re an A cup or a GG.
This article first appeared in nowcure.me, the one stop shop to find tips & tricks to a happier and healthier you!