During lockdown, with all our favourite gyms and studios temporarily closed, running has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity.
Whilst some are finding their stride once more after migrating to indoor workouts in the last few years, others are taking it up for the first time as the perfect form of accessible cardio which needs no specialist equipment and can be done almost anywhere.
And why not? Many experts believe that our bodies have actually been shaped through evolution to equip us as highly effective endurance running machines. The shapes of our hips and feet, length of legs, shock absorbing spinal discs and ability to sweat have made it possible for us to run mile after mile should we want to.
So, with human bodies predisposed to running and its convenience for beginners, it seems only natural that many should lace up whilst limited in their forays outside the house and discover how running can be blissful, meditative, and provide a sense of freedom.
But will running’s wide-ranging benefits for both body and mind convince new coverts after Covid has gone?
We take a look at the key benefits of this miracle exercise:
High calorie burning
Even at a pace of 5 mph (roughly a 12-minute mile), on average a 160-pound person will burn 606 calories an hour — and a 200-pound person will burn 755 calories.
Since it improves aerobic fitness, regular running improves our cardiovascular health by helping the arteries retain their elasticity, strengthening the heart for those with high blood pressure, and lowering your risk of developing blood clots which can lead to strokes.
Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Those who exercise regularly generally achieve greater peak bone mass and in later life it can help prevent bone loss. Running has been suggested as having additional value for older adults who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Supports cognitive health
If you want to keep your mind healthy as you age, research indicates exercising is one of the best things you can do. Reviews of the cognitive-boosting effect of aerobic exercise found that running improved working memory and focus and boosted task-switching ability.
Improves overall health
Is there no end to running’s benefits? Research has shown that running can also raise your levels of good cholesterol while also helping you increase lung function and boost your immune system.
Decreases symptoms of depression
A multitude of clinical studies have concluded that regular aerobic exercise reduces the symptoms of clinical depression and in one US study found it can be as effective as an intervention for depression as psychotherapy or behavioural therapy. Sometimes described as ‘Runners High’ regular outings stimulates serotonin and endorphins, helping to beat the blues.
By reducing the symptoms of anxiety and helping us to relax, running’s rhythmic nature has a meditative quality to it which can almost be compared to mindful meditation.
Promotes better sleep
A regular runs benefits include regulated circadian rhythms, heightened daytime alertness, quicker onset of sleep, deeper sleep, and the reduction of symptoms in those with insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.
Interested in taking your running further? Read our interview with Avid ultra runner, qualified triathlon coach and NLP practitioner Claudia Schroegel and get inspired.