Becoming a runner has a profound impact on your life. You may not realize, though, how much it improves each piece. Here are some examples of the many health benefits that running may provide:
Benefit:1 Running not only adds years to your life, but it also adds years to your life.
Several studies have shown that running may help you live longer. As a consequence, the proverb “If exercise were a medicine, it would be the most popular pill on the planet” has gained popularity. It’s also worth noting that it’d be the most cost-effective, with little to no outlay.
After a year of follow-up, runners had a 25 to 30 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality than non-runners, according to a 2018 meta-analysis of data on running and longevity. It concluded, “Any amount of running, even once a week, is better than no running.”
Another research of runners discovered that they live an extra three years. Why? Biochemical mechanisms include greater cardiovascular fitness, better body composition (reduced fat), lower cholesterol, improved glucose and insulin control, stronger bones, better hormone regulation, and favorable brain functioning, to name a few.
On the other hand, few of us just wish to live longer. We hope for a long, prosperous, healthy, and active life instead. Running and other forms of high-intensity exercise excel in this area. Because “seniors” account for a significant percentage of public-health spending owing to their late-life diseases, researchers are concentrating their efforts on how to keep them healthy. Exercise nearly always wins this race.
According to recent research from Ball State University, the biological profiles of 75-year-old professional runners and cyclists (who had been exercising for 50 years) were more comparable to those of 25-year-old graduate students than those of their non-exercising 75-year-old counterparts.
In another well-known study, Stanford researchers compared local runners in their mid-50s to non-exercising Stanford community members who got the same high-quality medical treatment. The death rate among runners has reduced by more than half in twenty-one years. Surprisingly, runners are required 11 to 16 years longer to get certain “disability scores” than non-runners. To put it another way, they were able to keep their young look for a long time. The older the participants were, the greater the advantages seen among runners.
Benefit 2: Running helps you sleep better.
If you haven’t read innumerable articles on the importance of sleep in recent years, you’ve been sleeping under a rock somewhere. Sleep is very important for athletes. After all, this is the time when the body fixes itself. According to scientific journalist Christie Aschwanden in her book Good to Go on Sports Recovery, sleep is one of the few healing “techniques” that is validated by great science.
“We have considerable evidence that exercise does help you fall asleep faster and improves sleep quality,” according to experts at Johns Hopkins. According to a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Exercise, the association between exercise and sleep is bidirectional. The more activity you do, the more sleep you’ll need. Furthermore, the less likely you are to exercise regularly, the worse your sleeping habits will become.
Runners were formerly warned that working out in the evening might interfere with their sleep the following night. In contrast, a meta-analysis of 23 publications published in 2018 found the opposite. Except for a rigorous interval exercise done within an hour of the night (don’t attempt it! ), other evening activities improved the ease of falling asleep and the quality of sleep.
Benefit 3: Running may aid in the rehabilitation of your knees and back.
This is one long-term benefit that many people are skeptical about. The reason is that since running is an impact sport, it must be bad for the joints. Furthermore, everyone knows a few runners who have had knee issues and have had to switch to cycling. True, but it’s also true that sedentary, out-of-shape people have more knee and back problems on average than most runners.
Are you on the lookout for proof? That’s all right. According to a study that compared 675 marathon runners with non-active controls, “the arthritis rate of active marathoners was lower that of the general US population.” Ultramarathoners seem to be in fantastic form as well. Researchers looked at the knees of runners who had recently finished a multiday, 2700-mile marathon across Europe and found that “severe running strain seems unlikely to have a significant adverse effect on the femoropatellar joint [knee joint] tissues.”
In a study of 44 first-time marathon runners, researchers discovered that “the knees of rookie runners displayed persistent improvement, for at least 6 months post-marathon, in the condition of their bone marrow and articular cartilage” (17 men and 27 women). The lower back is in the same boat. In a 2020 publication titled “Long-term running in middle-aged men and intervertebral disc health, a cross-sectional pilot experiment,” researchers looked examined disc spacing inexperienced runners vs. non-runners. The researchers reported that “middle-aged long-term endurance runners exhibit reduced age-related degeneration in their lumbar IVDs [intervertebral disc height].” The longer the patients had been running, the better the disc-spacing seemed. For weekly mileage, the same may be true. It was desirable to run longer distances.
Benefit 4: Running helps with weight reduction and maintenance
Running burns more calories than most other activities since it forces you to move your whole body weight all of the time. To get the most out of your exercise, you don’t have to run fast. Running at a slower pace delivers almost as much benefit (but it takes twice as long).
The slogan “you can’t outrun a bad diet” is only half-true at most, according to a 2019 editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The experts conclude, “It is evident that exercise may and does result in weight loss.” It also provides “a plethora of other health-related advantages.” If you want to keep track, a mile of running burns roughly 100 calories. (Multiply for more accuracy.) Multiply your body weight in pounds by 75 to get your calorie burn per mile.)
It’s not difficult to lose weight; keeping it off is the difficult part. According to study after study, people may lose a lot of weight in as little as six months. Unfortunately, the weight soon returns. It normally returns in full, and sometimes even more, after another six to 18 months. Everyone has heard of yo-yo dieting; here’s how it works.
Only those who commit to a consistent, long-term training routine have been shown to surpass the odds. One project that has kept track of these successful weight-losers is the National Weight Control Registry. The National Weight Control Registry is keeping track of a large group of people who have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for the last 5.5 years. On average, ninety percent of them exercise for an hour each day. Ninety-eight percent of individuals have made some changes to their dietary habits.
Benefit 5: Running increases your immune system
David Nieman, a 58-time marathon runner and exercise scientist, has spent the last 40 years researching the link between exercise and immunity. He uncovered usually very favorable news and a few warning notes when researching the influence of diet on the immunological health of runners. The following is his summary: Simple activity increases immunity, ultra-endurance exercises reduce immunity (at least momentarily), and dark red, blue, and blackberries maintain your body strong and healthy.
In a 2019 publication, Nieman and Laurel M. Wentz wrote about “the robust association between physical activity and the body’s protective mechanism.” They show that running improves disease monitoring, reduces inflammation, increases gut microbiome composition, lowers the risk of upper respiratory infections and influenza, and improves antibody response, among other things.
A J-curve is proposed by Nieman to represent the finding that moderate exercise is good, while excessive effort temporarily reduces immunity. Several other health researchers have confirmed this tendency. The authors of the textbook Muscle and Exercise Physiology explain, “It is well recognized that low amounts of exercise stimulate immune system functions and hence minimize the risk of infection.”
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