Running is among the few exercises that are recommended by both medical doctors and fitness experts. As a result, it is a very popular exercise that cuts across all demographics, including old people. While the doctor may not encourage an old patient to do weight lifting, he/she will not mind if the patient takes an occasional jog around the park. This is because running has numerous benefits that improve the general functioning of the body, such as improved cardiovascular health, increased metabolism, weight loss, muscle growth and to top it all off, a lean and strong body. In fact, many people visit the gym just to hit the treadmill or an elliptical machine. Here are the changes that your body goes through when you start running. If you are looking for gym equipments in Dubai, check out our gym catalog page.
Look at all the athletes in Olympics, they have one thing in common – none of them is fat and it is no coincidence. Running burns a lot of calories than most exercises, since it requires a combination of multiple muscles to work together which require a lot of energy. Your body may also continue to burn calories after high intensity training, such as sprints and short-interval runs with short breaks in-between. This phenomenon is referred to as the “after-burn effect” and may last up to 48 hours depending on the intensity of the exercise. The after-burn effect takes care of future calories, which helps you manage your body weight.
Running decreases the fat levels in your body, which gives room for muscle growth. Note however that running does not facilitate muscle gain in all parts of the body, only the muscles used in running, such as quads, calves, hamstrings and lower back muscles. When you become a regular runner, your lower body will be more toned and lean. You will notice muscle bulk in your legs, your thighs will be nicely chiseled and your tummy will be flat with shapely abs. You will also notice changes in your waist area, as a result of little-to-no belly fat. Your waist line will be visible and hips more defined, which will give you a nice curvy figure and a round firm butt – if you are a lady. While a lower toned body may work perfectly for the ladies, men need additional muscle training for the upper body to stay in shape.
Improved Body Functioning
When you get into the habit of running, you will notice that your body will become more energized, stronger and faster. You will find no problem climbing a flight of stairs without catching a breath or picking up something under the bed without twitching your back muscles. Running as a lifestyle will automatically improve your dietary choices. You will adopt a healthier diet to give you the energy to hit the track. Another benefit of running is a clean digestive track, due to strong abdominal muscles that facilitate regular and faster bowel movements. Running therefore gets rid of problems associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), such as flatulence, bloating, constipation and abdominal pains.
Psychological Benefits of Running
While running is great for the physical body, it also has a ton of benefits for the mind. First of all, running helps you get a good night sleep, which improves your mood and ability to focus better on your daily tasks. Secondly, running has been known to alleviate symptoms of depression by distracting the mind from stressful agents and boosting your mood. Thirdly, running is also a confidence booster. People with low self-esteem have reportedly experienced an increase in self-love and confidence. This can be attributed to the mood-lifting effect of running and a general improvement in their outward appearance that makes them feel good about themselves.
Your self-esteem can also gain a boost when you meet new running buddies, who share your passion and goals and are willing to help you meet your targets. Having friends to hit new tracks and to experience new adventures can make life satisfying and meaningful. In addition, running keeps the brain sharp at all ages. Cognitive decline is more apparent as we age. Running however is among the few aerobic exercises with cognitive-boosting abilities that improves your memory and focus and also allows you to manage psychological stress efficiently.
Health Benefits of Running
Apart from physiological and mental benefits, running comes with many health benefits and may help prevent various chronic diseases. Here are some health benefits of running:
1. Healthy heart
Running is a cardio exercise meaning that it has vast health benefits for the heart. The heart is a muscle and like all other muscles it requires a bit of exercising to work properly. Running gives it the workout it needs to function properly by making it pump blood at a faster rate than it usually does. Also, running leads to excessive fat loss, which prevents artery clogging. As a result, it lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
2. Healthy bones and joints
A common misconception is that running is the cause of bad knees. This however is far from the truth. Since running is very intensive on the bones and joints, it actually strengthens both bones and joints, including intervertebral discs. It also reduces the risk of knee pains and osteoarthritis. Knee pain has more to do with lack of flexibility than with running. It is therefore important to incorporate other cardio exercises like yoga and swimming into your training to improve the flexibility of your body.
3. Controls blood sugar levels
Running is a rigorous exercise that utilizes a lot of energy. To be able to produce this energy, the body speeds up metabolism of blood sugar to release energy. As a result, blood sugar is considerably reduced for several hours. The after-burn effect also keeps blood glucose low even during resting or off-days. This lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.
Running also improves your respiratory system by increasing your lung capacity to take in more fresh air and is also a good source of vitamin D from the sun. Running is one of the most addictive sports or exercises you can take up. Many runners experience a “runner’s high” that makes them feel better and satisfied after a run - and it is due to this “high” that most of them cannot wait for their next run. If you have not yet started running, then you are missing out on a lot of benefits.