I hate to run. That is what I have thought, or led myself to believe for years. I have been involved in sports for as long as I can remember, but I always loathed even the thought of running. But as much as I didn’t enjoy running, I wanted to learn to at least like it. I even bought a treadmill so that I could run in the privacy of my home, and although it didn’t become a clothes rack, it didn’t get used in the way it was meant for either—running. It wasn’t until recently that my perception of running has changed. I signed up to do a race with a friend and decided to really give running another try. To my surprise, I found myself enjoying it. I started reading what I could find about running and the more I read, the more I wished I would have tried to stick with it in the past. I hope that if any of you are in the same place as me that you will give it another try. Getting started is easy (all you need is a good pair of shoes) and running will provide you will endless health benefits.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Running gives your heart a workout. With every stride, blood is squeezed to your heart, which then pumps the blood back through your body. Running also improves artery function. When you’re running, your arteries work about three times harder than when you’re sedentary. The improved function lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes. The longer and faster a person runs, the stronger their heart will get.
Improves Psychological Health
When you run, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are better known as your brain’s “feel good” hormone and can naturally improve your mood. Running can also reduce stress by forcing your body to exert excess energy and hormones. When you are setting and achieving running goals, you may also see a boost in your self-esteem and confidence. Perhaps best of all, running can make you feel empowered.
Improves Overall Health
Running provides numerous benefits for your entire body and can improve your overall health. Some of these benefits include:
- Helps burn excess calories and can help with weight loss or maintenance.
- Strengthens your muscles and bones in response the demands placed on the body. It also strengthens your ligaments, making the body less susceptible to sprains and strains.
- Works out multiple parts of your body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominal muscles, calf muscles, glutes, and hip flexors.
- Can slow down the aging process by preventing the bone and muscle loss that occurs as you age.
- Improves coordination because all parts of the body are forced to work together to keep you upright and traveling along the correct path.
- Can boost your immune system, help prevent disease, and lower your risk of developing some cancers.
- Improves your lung function.
I would be lying if I’d said that I love running, but I am finally learning to like it and I hope that that feeling continues to grow. I now look forward to that time to focus on myself and shut everything else out. It is a wonderful feeling to run longer or farther than you did before or ever thought you could.
A word of caution: Running is not something to dive right into if you haven’t been physically active for a while. Start slow and start out walking and work your way up to running. If you have any concerns about whether you should run, always consult your physician.