18 Reasons Why Running Makes Your Life Better
Running is great for your body and brain. It is the single most popular exercise in the world. Want to boost your health? Want to lose weight? You will hardly find exercise with more health benefits than running. Check these 18 reasons why running is so beneficial for you.
The health benefits of running or exercise in general have been known to us for an extended period of time. Especially running is and always was very natural for us. Ability to run shaped our anatomy throughout history. We had to become great long-distance runners to be able to hunt animals. This literally made us look like how we look today.
Intense physical activity such as running has deeply positive effects on our well-being. It is well-known fact that plenty of modern illnesses are caused by too much sedentary lifestyle. Obesity, osteoporosis, knee osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, anxiety, or diabetes are just some of them. Hard to believe how many people suffer from these when often, the solution is quite simple – daily exercise.
1. No diets
I feel I wanted to start with this one as I find it one of the biggest benefits of running 🙂 And it is true for most people. Runners generally do not have to care much about calories intake. We burn it all anyway! This is especially true for long-distance runners. Pizza and pasta is our best friend, especially before long runs.
Don’t get me wrong, most runners don’t stuff themselves with junk food on daily basis. Quite opposite is the truth. We don’t like to run with a heavy stomach so we naturally look for light and nutritious food. Running actually teaches us better eating habits.
But when you feel like eating a nice burger, crispy fries, barbecue ribs, or anything else that comes to your mind, you don’t have to limit yourself, you don’t diet.
You simply eat what you feel to eat and you don’t get fat.
You also get to discover a lot of tasty meals as a runner, try for example Tarahumara Pinole.
2. Lose weight
Not only that you don’t get fat. You actually manage to achieve significant weight loss. Why? You burn more calories.
According to American Council on Exercise, a 140-pound person burns 10,8 and 180-pound person 13,9 calories per minute of moderate pace running. So a 180 lb. person going for half an hour-long running exercise burns about 417 calories! Now that is a whole lunch you burn there!
Run 3-4 times a week and I guarantee you, unless you eat very unhealthy, you will reach more healthy weight within 6 months. That is worth trying no?
If you would like to know what is the best workout to burn calories and quickly lose some weight, read the article The best running exercise to lose weight quickly.
3. Improve cardiovascular health
One NOT fun fact.
Did you know that heart disease is a leading death cause for men and women in the United States? According to CDC data from 2019, heart disease was responsible for 23% of all deaths occurring that year. Almost 1 in 4 people pass away from cardiovascular issues every year. These are obviously extremely bad numbers.
So what are the main reasons for heart disease? According to CDC, it is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, overweight or physical inactivity.
Did you know that regular aerobic exercise helps you to bring down your heart rate and consequently your blood pressure? That is a fact proven by numerous studies.
How running changes your cardiovascular system
During aerobic activity such as running, your body is literally changing. Your cardiovascular system experiences physiological changes trying to adjust to new levels of physical stress. As it needs to deliver more oxygen to your brain and muscles, your heart and blood vessels become more effective to serve the growing amount of muscle and new brain cells.
Therefore once you rest, your heart does not have to pump so much as before to deliver the same amount of oxygen. The resting heartbeat of regular runners naturally heads down.
When I started running, I remember buying this fancy fitness band to measure all my running stats. In the beginning, my resting heartbeat was about 75bpm, now after some years of running, it is about 55 bpm. I feel confident it is mostly because of my training.
Check your heart health
I encourage you to do the same and measure your heartbeat and blood pressure daily. You can use this accurate digital BP machine, the same I use and I am satisfied with.
If your higher (systolic) pressure regularly exceeds 130, that means your pressure is elevated and you may want to discuss it with your doctor. Usually, there are ways out of this that will often include more physical activity such as running and a more healthy lifestyle.
4. Get to know yourself – understand your body
Getting to know yourself and your body is definitely one of the benefits of running. I already partially mentioned that previously. Monitor different kinds of stats while you exercise and learn how they relate to your health.
By purchasing one of these popular fitness bands for runners, you instantly start to collect different kinds of statistics about yourself.
With regular exercise, you learn things you have had no idea before. How many calories do you burn when you exercise, what is your heartbeat, when you usually go to sleep, or what are your stress levels. Don’t underestimate that. Understanding these data may be critical. And this is just the beginning.
Running puts more emphasis on your eating and sleeping habits. While becoming a better and more effective runner, you learn what is the most suitable nutrition for you in order to have the energy you need to feel good. Analogically you learn to better understand your sleeping biorhythm and understand if you are rather a morning or evening person. Knowing these things can literally set you free.
Exercise regularly and discover more about yourself!
5. Get your morning energy boost
Many runners will tell you that there is no better thing in the morning than to step in your running shoes and get out for 30 minutes run. The earlier, the better. It literally feels amazing knowing that everybody sleeps in his warm bed while you are already working on your health.
Morning run will help you to boost your mood and start your daily responsibilities with high energy. If you are lucky, you will watch the beautiful sunrise and possibly make some amazing shots. Such an experience will set the tone for the rest of your day.
6. Clear your mind after a long day
Some runners like to run in the morning while other runners prefer to run later, after work. Both are great options and none is better than the other. It absolutely depends on your individual preference.
From my experience, nothing feels better after a stressful and difficult day at work than running a couple of miles. Ideally, invite some of your friends to join you and you will quickly forget what bothered you earlier in the day.
7. Sleep better
And naturally, you will also sleep better. Running is a great way to improve your sleeping habits and the quality of your sleep. After a couple of miles at a low pace in the evening, you will feel pleasantly tired and your body will naturally slow down.
In a study from 2019, researchers found that an evening workout helps you to sleep deeper. Take a hot shower prior you go to bed and boost the deep sleep even more.
We spend almost one-third of our life in bed, therefore our sleep quality is highly important. It affects our health, fitness, and energy levels during the day. A well-rested brain is your major asset. People with an active life have less stress and generally sleep better.
Mental health benefits
Did you know that running strengthens your mental health as well? And the effect can be quite significant. Exercise is generally being prescribed for people suffering from anxiety or even mild depression. For many otherwise healthy adults, the positive impact on mental health is one of the main reasons to set a running routine.
That is also my case. I did not start running in order to lose weight. I actually started to run seeking to build my mental strength. I felt I needed a new purpose in life, something that is hard and requires training and discipline. Because usually, all worthwhile things require that.
I decided to run a marathon knowing how difficult it will be. And it was.
There were days when I lacked the motivation, I was lazy, tired, or simply didn’t feel like doing anything. Days I didn’t feel like running. And these were exactly the days when I went running. Why? Because I learned to respect myself for that. Knowing I beat this little whiny voice in my head gave me self-esteem and mental strength.
8. Set goals and reach them – gain self-respect
Everybody needs goals in life. Whatever is your goal – family, career, or travel, it helps you to focus on something and find ways to get past the obstacles standing in your way.
As you see yourself moving closer towards the goal, your brain creates positive emotions. That makes you feel happy. That is also the reason why we say that it is the journey that brings us happiness, not the destination. Runners are generally happier.
In case of the absence of a goal, there is no reason to get up in the morning. Everything is useless, you become resentful and full of negative emotions. You hurt yourself and people around you who see you not living up to your potential.
If this is your case, try to start running today.
Set a goal you will run a marathon, get one of the free training plans available out there, and get started. You may find our Marathon training plan for beginners one of the best and simplest.
As you will see yourself getting better and being able to run more and more distance, I guarantee you that you will feel good about yourself. Not only you will improve your fitness, but you will also gain self-esteem.
9. Challenge yourself
As you get past your first running goal, you will understand that this feeling of accomplishment is really addictive.
You will start to plan your next running challenge. And this is absolutely normal, we were born to challenge ourselves and get through the obstacles. Our brain and nervous system need that feeling in order to stay motivated.
For proper functioning of our nervous system, it is really critical to regularly get out of our comfort zone. Aim for something you would not consider as reachable and train for it for an extended period of time. Aim at least at one thing. If it requires running, good. If it requires brisk walking, still good. Just start now.
Running regularly will definitely teach you self-discipline. If you are on your way towards your running goal, possibly a marathon race, you will not be always motivated. There will be days you will not be in the mood and these days are actually the most important ones. They will define your success. Days when you just need to show up and do the work anyway.
All successful people in the world understand that self-discipline is one of the most important aspects of their success.
In running, it is especially true. If you don’t properly follow the training plan and skip the most important long runs, you will not be ready on your race day and you will probably fail.
If you stop running the first time you will feel knee pain, you will never get to the finish. Sometimes you will need to push even if your body will be in pain and it will hurt.
One cool point.
The self-discipline acquired from running workouts will start to spill into other areas of your life as well. You will start to get better at your work as you will not quit every single time a problem appears. Your boss will appreciate you more as you will be able to deliver, even if the task might be difficult and you might feel tired.
Learning self-discipline will improve your life in many aspects.
Outside of all the amazing benefits of running mentioned above, regular running can help you with some rather practical issues that every one of us is facing.
11. COVID pandemic
Unfortunately, all the world is facing a COVID pandemic. With curfews implemented worldwide, gyms, theaters, and cinemas closed, we are often stuck at home looking for alternative ways to exercise or enjoy ourselves. Sometimes we just need to get out for a moment not to become insane.
Running is one of the best options to do that. Not only do you get to improve your health and fitness, but you get a chance to go out, get some sun and fresh air. Your immune system will thank definitely you for that. Also, runners tend to handle lockdowns better than non-runners as they don’t completely lose contact with the outside world.
12. Time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks
This is a very practical point. With all the responsibilities you have during the week, you hardly find time to actually read or listen to anything you like. When is the last time you have listened to your favorite podcast?
That changes when you are a runner. Many of us go running looking forward to listening to our favorite audiobook. And why not do it at the same time while working on our health? This can actually add up some motivation to put on your running shoes and go out more often.
13. Time for you to think
Running also gives you plenty of time to think about your own stuff. Imagine how much time you get when running distances like a half marathon (13,1-mile run) or full marathon (26,2-mile run).
You get time to plan your daily schedule or think about how you are going to solve some problems at work. Or to think about your relationships with family members or friends. Consider, when do you have time to really think about these issues otherwise?
14. Save money for a gym
One big advantage of running is, that it is almost for free. That is also one of the reasons why running is so popular. Compared to the gym that requires you to pay monthly memberships around 40-50$ (not even mentioning a personal trainer), going for a walk or run costs you nothing.
All you need is basic running gear – a pair of running shoes, shorts, and a quality running shirt. If you like to listen while running, good pair of headphones is a desirable investment. As well as some nice fitness tracker to measure your exercise.
15. Connect with your neighborhood
Every runner will tell you, that running allows you to discover your neighborhood from a different angle. You notice things, you haven’t noticed before. Also, you notice people you haven’t noticed before.
The feeling when you get to watch a sunrise over the park you live by is indescribable. These simple things bring us a lot of joy and happiness but we often miss them.
16. Get different perspectives
Try to apply for a marathon or half marathon in your city. On the race day, when you will be running through the streets you know so well, (but only from the car), the difference will strike you.
It is so beautiful to get to know your city by running through the main streets, without traffic, simply breathing in the local atmosphere. A very unusual but enriching experience.
17. Explore places
Join races in other places. Explore cities, natural parks, mountains, whatever you prefer. Running is not simply an exercise, it is a lifestyle. It means traveling and exploring.
Becoming a runner can be deeply life-changing. Becoming part of a running group (joining your local running club), meeting new friends achieving a more healthy lifestyle, and feeling better in your own skin. These are all things that make running worthwhile. But what it gets even better. Runners actually live longer.
18. Live longer
According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, even a small amount of running significantly decreases the risk of death from any cause.
As the study states, a small amount of regular running is associated with a 30% lower risk of heart disease and a 23% lower risk of cancer.
Running increases the chance of longer life. So are you in?