Exercise might be really fun for some but for most people, it’s troublesome and robs your time of finishing a movie or series, or going out with friends. Exercise is often not prioritized with the current lifestyle in this world we’re living in. Guess what?
You have to run now. You have no excuses.
As you age, your muscle fibers begin to shrink in size and number. Your cardiovascular endurance will also start to decline, as well as your strength, coordination, and balance. Physical aging peaks in your 20’s and 30’s, but individual aging experience depends on factors such as your lifestyle, genetics, diet, and activity levels. There’s no avoiding science.
HOWEVER, less physical activity as you age will also contribute to the many challenges in health and fitness as you grow older. THEREFORE, you can still do something about it.
Here are the 10 reasons why you should start running now:
1. It improves your cardiovascular health
Running increases your heart rate, which trains the cardiovascular system or your heart, blood vessels, and blood into becoming very good at their job:
- Transporting nutrients, oxygen, and hormones to cells in the whole body and removing metabolic wastes such as carbon dioxide, and nitrogenous wastes.
- Protecting the body through white blood cells, antibodies, and complement proteins that circulate in the blood and defend the body against foreign microbes and toxins. Platelets are also present to protect the body from blood loss in times of injury.
- Regulates body temperature, fluid pH, and water content of cells.
Researchers looked into the potential of running in assisting hypertensive patients and with great results proved that running is a non-pharmacological treatment for hypertension.
Aside from hypertension, running also reduces bad cholesterol (Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol), lowering your risk for heart attacks.
Diabetic patients are also advised into running because it regulates insulin levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, working out makes your muscles use glucose, thus making your blood sugar go down instantly.
2. It enhances joint health
This is a shock to most people because running is believed to worsen arthritis and other joint-related health risks. Well, not anymore. According to Frederick A. Matsen III, M.D., “the health of cartilage depends on it being used.” Just like our muscles, running puts pressure on our knees, ankles, and hips’ cartilages, causing it to strengthen our cartilage and ligaments gradually.
That being said, overtraining can still cause injuries, so a runner must be wary not to over-train and make sure to improve form and flexibility. Always consult your doctor especially if you have a knee injury.
3. It strengthens your bones
Just like your muscles and cartilage, running also puts stress on our bones enough to build more bone mineral density. In the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a study found that runners have greater spine bone mineral density than resistance trainers (those who do weight training), and cyclists.
Although skipping strength training is not advised, especially if you do it regularly. After all, both workouts have different functions. Feel free to message us for more information about running vs. strength training.
4. It burns calories which helps you lose weight, gain a stronger core, and build stronger legs
Running burns a lot of calories.
The American Council on Exercise has created a chart stating that a 180 lb. person burns about 17 calories per minute. If that person runs a mile for 15 minutes, a total of 255 calories will be burned.
15 minutes per mile
171 calories burned
198 calories burned
226.5 calories burned
255 calories burned
When you burn calories, you lose unhealthy fat and lose weight.
Once you lose unhealthy fat, your body is ready to build muscles for your core and legs. Running challenges your core and forces you to balance your hips. These will develop your abdominal muscles, calves, hamstrings, quads, adductors (inner thigh muscles), and glutes, strengthening them for you to feel carrying heavy furniture, groceries, and playing sports with your family a piece of cake.
Aside from these, running also stabilizes your spine, giving you a better posture. With better posture, you can definitely face the world more confidently, and while your at it, your body is still burning calories for you at rest.
We call this afterburn. Afterburn or Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC, as called by scientists) is the number of calories you burn after exercise. Up to 190 calories can be burned after 14 hours.
5. It adds years to your life
According to a study in the journal of Progress in cardiovascular diseases, runners were shown to live 3 years longer than non-runners, and have 25-40% reduced risk of premature mortality. This is probably due to its benefits in your cardiovascular health.
Running also reduces your risk of cancer. In the Journal of Nutrition, nearly 170 observational epidemiologic studies have proven that physical activity can be a means of cancer prevention. Weight control is seen as the most probable cause since excess weight has been an established link to increased cancer risk.
It also helps your body fight off the common cold. According to WebMD, even regular walking may increase your white blood cells count. These white blood cells are responsible for fighting off infections. In another study, 65-year-olds who were active in exercise had the same number of T-cells (a cell found in white blood cells) to people in their 30’s.
If you run in the morning, you also get a pretty good dose of vitamin D, which is important for your bones, skin, and immune system.
6. Helps improve your memory
Neuroscientists at Cambridge University found that running gives the brain a signal to produce fresh gray matter—a big impact on mental ability. A few days of running generated hundreds of thousands of new brain cells that appeared in the region called the precuneus, where formation and recollection of memory happens.
With a constant supply of fresh new brain cells, you will surely prevent diseases that are related to memory loss, and will be more focused on being productive and making smart choices.
If you’re thinking that this applies only to teenagers or young adults, think again. There are studies on the cognitive-boosting effect of aerobic exercise on children, young adults, and older adults. Running has also been proven to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease according to the Medicine & Science in Sports & Science journal.
Running improves the memory of all age groups.
7. Relieves your stress
Running can make you feel happier and prevent or remove depression. Neurogenesis, the process of generating new brain cells, is said to be limited in people with depression according to previous studies. A few antidepressants were also mentioned to have worked by encouraging the growth of new brain cells. Hence, you can do something to feel happier in your life.
It was also said that just a few minutes of running can boost your mood completely because the exercise makes your brain secrete hormones such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
Endorphins are often called “feel-good” chemicals. They are produced by the body to relieve stress and pain. Serotonin, on the other hand, is responsible for reducing depression and regulating anxiety. This hormone also literally heals your wounds, and assists in bowel movement. Lastly, dopamine is released whenever you feel pleasure.
Producing these hormones within you gives you a sort of “high” feeling, which led to the coinage of “runner’s high.”
That’s why the runners are fun to be with. You are literally surrounding yourself with happy people who are physically and mentally healthy.
If you like meditation, you can run alone because running also counts as meditation. Running can give you time alone to process everything in your life and think of solutions, or you can just simply let go, admire Earth, and enjoy the moment.
8. It’s convenient
You can run any time and anywhere. Just make you have your running shoes and training clothes and you’re good to go!
It’s also cheap. You don’t have to pay monthly for a gym membership, and you don’t have to be stuck in one place. You can explore a lot of places with different terrain to challenge yourself.
Running is also easy to learn. You’ve already utilized playing tag during grade school so if you stopped for a really long time, all you have to do is remember. You may also read further about the proper form here.
9. Gives you better sleep
Scientists at Northwestern University studied 23 sedentary adults, mostly women who were 55 years old and above, who had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
The research had two groups: one group exercised for two 20-minute sessions 4 times a week, the other did 30-40 minute workouts 4 times a week. The study lasted for 16 weeks, with the participants said to have exercised up to 75% of their maximum heart rate on at least two activities from riding a stationary bicycle, walking, up to exercising on a treadmill.
The results reported that the participants’ sleep quality improved. They had fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness in the daytime.
This also proves true for a study on young people with the average age of 18.
Although some say they don’t really have better sleep when they workout, this also depends on what time you workout.
Doing physical activity, as what I have mentioned in the previous reasons, can instantly boost your mood increase the production of hormones that gives you runner’s high. If you want to avoid this, make sure you run hours before you’re about to sleep.
10. Boosts your confidence
Who wouldn’t be confident after getting physically and mentally healthy? The reasons have been mentioned above. Running provides overall good body systems, it also provides physical strength for your core, legs, and abs, it literally makes you look attractive because of burning excess fat, makes you smarter because of generating new brain cells, you feel joy because of the happy hormones, and it makes you live longer.
These benefits are planned, and every time you plan on running, you actually set goals for yourself. Achieving these goals give a kickstart on your self-esteem and confidence.
With all these reasons, would you say you need to start running now?
YES, YOU DO.
You have to start now, and reap the benefits immediately.
But before you do, how do you prepare for welcoming running into your life?
First off, running is not fast all the time. You can always enter this lifestyle gradually.
There are three basic types of running according to Runnersworld.com:
Jogging is the most popular form of running because it’s the easiest. When you jog, you run at a slower pace at 6 mph. For beginners, this is the most suggested form of running.
2. Distance Running
When you jog faster than 6 mph, you are technically running. If you run at that speed in 5 miles, that is already considered distance running. This is very beneficial for cardiovascular health and mental focus.
There are two types of muscle fibers. We have what we call slow twitch (type I) and fast twitch (type II). Slow twitch muscle fibers are responsible for endurance, whereas fast twitch muscle fibers are for strength. Sprinting targets your fast twitch muscle fibers, which is the same as weightlifting. If performed repeatedly, this is equivalent to High Intensity Interval Training or (HIIT). It is very effective for shedding fat, but you must only do this if you already have developed a strong fitness foundation. This is more advanced, so please do consult a doctor.
Feel that these are all too advanced for you? You can definitely start from brisk-walking. Once your stamina keeps up with brisk-walking, you can gradually move to jogging. Then, distance running, and who knows, maybe even sprinting!
Now that you know the different types of running, here are tips to make you run efficiently and effectively:
You must invest in good running shoes. Good running shoes can prevent you from getting injuries, especially if you are running long distances. Running does not only impact your feet but also your whole body from your calves up to your shoulders. Make sure that you have good running shoes in order to support the impact every time you run.
Next, don’t forget to warm up. Do jumping jacks and stretch before you start running. This is to prepare your muscles for the workout, and your mind as well to make yourself ready for the moment.
Also, maintain a proper posture. Keep your spine erect and avoid raising your hands above your waist and keep your elbows out. This is why running improves anyone’s posture. It’s because of practice.
Maintain a steady pace. Do not rush yourself into running fast. Run at a pace you’re comfortable with.
Do the run and walk technique. This will help your body get used to the exercise.
Breathe right. Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. This also allows you to regulate and nourish your chi.
Time yourself. This is to monitor progress and congratulate yourself for every time milestone.
Make sure you have a healthy diet. Exercise is surely an effective way to stay healthy but without proper nutrition, your efforts will be useless.
Avoid eating before a run. This will hurt your stomach.
Plan your route and make sure you avoid roads during their peak hours. You might inhale polluted air.
Take time to recover. All workouts put pressure on your muscles. If you do not give it time to recover, it will result to injuries.
What are you waiting for? You have to run now!
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If you love them, take care of yourself. No one will take care of them if you’re not around.
Words by Tina Macaraeg