Running is an amazing form of exercise. All it takes is a pair of legs and a dose of motivation!
I have been running for almost 20 years and from my experiences and what I have learnt from my coaches, these are the six best benefits of running.
1. Running is a priceless form of physical activity
You create your own running path whether it’s at a local park, a run around the block or for those gym goers - on a treadmill. There are no membership or entry fees (if you avoid the later) and all you need is a good pair of running shoes.
2. Running strengthens muscles
Running will help strengthen muscles such as the soleus muscles of your calf, quads, hamstrings and gastrocnemius. With strengthened muscles comes less pain post exercise and you will be able to run consistently for longer.
3. Running builds strong bones
Running is a weight baring exercise which helps build bone density. Your lower body bears the entire weight when you run, this causes the muscles to pull on the bone which in in effect make the bones stronger. Long-term benefits include preventing Osteoporosis.
4. Running assists weight loss
For those of you who may want to lose weight, running is a great weight loss exercise when combined with a healthy diet. The key I have found when training runners who want to lose weight is to do high intensity running with minimal recovery and to also combine this with a healthy well rounded diet which involves eating in moderation.
5. Running is a great mental escape
There have been several occasions where I have been under the pump at work and I have had so much on mind that it almost feels unbearable. One thing I have found is that every time I go on a run it helps mentally clear my head and allows me to gather my thoughts. Long, slow runs along the side of a river or ocean seem to be the best form of running if you want to relax.
Tip: Focus on your breathing while running, this will help keep your mind preoccupied and help you reach a relaxed state sooner. (Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth).
6. Running is a great group activity
Running is generally seen as an individual sport however I have really noticed some benefits, especially on long runs, of running with a group of motivated runners. I used to do all my long runs by myself and after I started running with a group of keen, positive runners and I noticed that my mileage doubled. Running with a group allows you to easily get into a rhythm, conversation and maybe even a little bit of healthy competition. This all adds up to you increasing your stamina.