Are you one of those 5-times-per-week gym goers that swear on never doing cardio? “I can’t run ’cause then I’d lose my gains, bruh.” Or are you the overweight workaholic IT guy who believes that he’s too heavy for the world to carry? Perhaps you’re the busy girl who always seems to be tired from life’s everyday challenges. Whatever the case may be, give me one chance to convince you that running is good for you more than you know.
1- Running improves your mood
Studies show that running for more than 30 minutes greatly increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. These are neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating our mood. We won’t go “big-bang theory” level here but in short, they are the feel-good hormones. Elevated levels of these basically give runners the “high” when they reach the “5K” mark.
Still don’t believe me? Well, you know the medications doctors prescribe for patients with major depressive disorder? The most commonly used is called SSRI or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor — SSRI floods the brain with more serotonin. Patients with depression have a severely low-level of serotonin, hence the treatment. But hey, there’s no need for you to use your health card now and talk to a shrink (psychiatrist) when you feel depressed. You can simply go for a run!
2- Running strengthens your bones
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” – You’ve probably heard this a couple of hundred times in a fight movie or have read it on the walls of your gym (or Facebook). This cannot be more true especially when it comes to our bones. You see, every time stress is placed on our bones, the body responds and creates a series of actions to reinforce the bone tissues as a preventive measure. Our perfectly engineered body does this to avoid injuries from future stress.
Each stride you take, each jump you make, generates impact to your joints as your foot makes contact with the ground. This wonderful union of your limbs and the earth triggers that “stress & reinforce” situation. Thanks to our team of osteoblasts for they do a stellar job in keeping our bones in excellent condition. Oh, I just love science!
Running is considered a high-impact exercise. So the more you run, the more you increase your bone density and the more you get tougher!
3- Running strengthens your heart
One thing you need to know about the heart: it’s a muscle. The heart pumps an average of 2,000 gallons of blood each day. Running forces the heart to pump massive amounts blood to keep up with the body’s oxygen demand. The more we make our heart work the way our chest muscles do when we do push-ups, the more it gets stronger.
Eventually, when you accumulate thousands of hours running, your resting heart rate decreases. A seasoned athlete has a resting heart rate of anywhere from 40 to 60 beats per minute, the normal range is 60-100. Hearts that have been toughened by years of endurance training, AKA athletic heart, don’t need to work as hard as they used to during rest because more blood is pumped in a single beat. Compared to that of the non-runners, a runner’s heart becomes a vicious blood-pumping machine.
To check your resting heart rate, put two fingers on your pulse and count the number of beats in one minute. This is best done first thing upon waking while still laying down.
4- Running promotes blood circulation
In the fitness world, enhanced blood circulation means faster recovery of muscle tissues. Our targeted muscles become very sore after a day of hard work in the weight room — this is the main reason why after doing deadlift’s, we can’t pick up the trash off the floor to save our life (but sometimes we get lazy, too). Running on your “sore” days actually feeds your beat up muscle tissues more oxygen-rich blood. And no, running does not take away your gains, bruh.
Running at a slow pace for a longer-than-usual time is one of the easiest ways to go about boosting blood circulation. Long Slow Distance (LSD) running has always been a staple in every athlete’s training regimen. Believe it or not, many elite-level athletes in the fight industry do this during their “rest” days — it’s the secret why they have this in their arsenal.
5- Running resets your circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythm is another name for our body clock. Doing exercise like running first thing in the morning jump-starts your day. While running makes you energized throughout, it also helps you “crash” at night. The cycle starts by raising the body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop, thus triggering sleepiness a few hours later.
Research done by National Sleep Foundation suggested that performing moderate-intensity exercises regularly like running, helps treat chronic insomnia. In their studies, insomnia patients who were made to exercise for 6 months improved their sleep dramatically. They quickly fell asleep, had slightly longer sleep, and had better overall sleep quality than before they began exercising. If there’s an 8th wonder of the world, running should be included on the list.