Running is a great form of exercise if you’re strapped for time. Forget a lengthy journey to the gym, simply step outside, and you’re good to go. Aside from time-saving, running can really benefit the body, let’s find out how.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Running improves cardiovascular health by increasing blood flow throughout the body. During exercise, the heart pumps more blood to the muscles, which increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
Runners typically tend to have a slow resting heart rate and high maximal oxygen consumption. Echocardiographic studies have shown distance runners to have larger, thicker left ventricles than those who are sedentary. In other words, their hearts pump a greater volume per beat, meaning they are more efficient.
Running has also been shown to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as the ‘good’ cholesterol. HDL helps to remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the bloodstream. Too much LDL can lead to the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease, hence why it’s known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found running, even for five to ten minutes per day at a slow speed, to be associated with markedly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
According to Wolfe’s Law, the bones of healthy individuals respond to stress by adapting to better handle that stress. Therefore, the weight-bearing bones of the legs and pelvis tend to be stronger in runners.
Bone strength begins to decline at an average rate of 1% each year after reaching the age of 40. Though studies have shown activities that put stress on the bones, like running, to activate extra deposits of calcium and stimulate bone forming cells. However, some runners do still experience poor bone health if they’re not consuming enough calories, which can lead to stress fractures. It’s worth combining running with weight training to really reap the benefits.
Running is known as one of the best forms of exercise to burn fat because it requires a lot of energy. Running activates a process called lipolysis, which is the breakdown of fat stored in adipose tissue. This process releases fatty acids into the bloodstream, where they can be used by the body as fuel. The more intense the run, the greater the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream, thus the more fat is burned.
A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found running to be more effective than resistance training at reducing abdominal fat in overweight adults. Research showed running to produce greater reductions in visceral fat, the type of fat that surrounds the organs, associated with increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
A Healthier Brain
Running is also great for cognitive function. A meta-analysis showed running to improve brain health by activating the release of BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF acts as a neurotransmitter modulator and plays a role in neuronal plasticity, essential for learning and memory.
One study compared the reactions of triathletes against subjects classified as having low aerobic fitness. The brains of the triathletes showed greater activity in allocating mental resources to a task and in responding to said task; demonstrating a positive correlation between aerobic fitness, sustained attention and response preparation.Ready to run? Pound the pavement in our Running Shorts.