The benefits of running are numerous – it will not only improve your fitness, but will also have a wider impact on your overall physical and mental health too. One of the best things about running, is the lack of barrier to entry – all you need are a pair of trainers and you are good to go. You can run right from your front door, no matter where you are. Whether you run the odd 5km or decide to take on ultra-marathons, you will reap the benefits of running regardless. Studies have shown that running just 30 minutes per day, five times a week can result in the following benefits:

On your marks... Photo: iStock

1) Benefits of Running: Mental Health

There are numerous studies on the effects of running on mental health, and they all have the same conclusion – running can help to improve your mental health. During exercise such as running, the body is believed to release serotonin which is a proven mood elevator, which in turn can help to alleviate stress, anxiety and other symptoms of depression.

"Running burns more calories than almost any other activity out there."

2) Benefits of running: Weight loss

It will come as no surprise to many of you that running aids weight loss. In fact running, burns more calories than almost any other activity out there. Faster runs, running uphill and interval sessions will increase the amount of calories you are burning per hour, you will even continue to burn calories for a couple of hours after you finish a high tempo run.

3) Benefits of running: Bone health

Despite popular opinion that running can have a detrimental effect on your knees and your joints, it doesn’t. Studies have shown that body weight is the second biggest contributing factor to osteoarthritis, after age. Runners are usually of a healthy body weight which is good news in this department. But it goes even further than that, running can actually strengthen your cartilage as it increases your oxygen flow and flushes out toxins more efficiently, strengthening the ligaments around your joints. Running on the trail as opposed to the road has been proven especially beneficial in this department.

We are not for a second dismissing running-induced injuries like runners’ knee, but generally these can be managed by choosing the correct shoes for your running type and regular stretching and sports massage. The benefits of running on your joints far outweighs the negatives.

Running can actually strengthen your cartilage! Photo: iStock

Female athlete stretching legs, warming up for run outdoors

4) Benefits of running: Increased fertility

A study carried out by Cambridge University last year suggested that men who regularly run long distances are more likely to reproduce than those who don’t. Scientists at the university took 542 runners at the Robin Hood marathon in Nottingham and found that those who finished faster were more likely to have stronger sex drives and higher sperm counts.

5) Benefits of running: Physical health

Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise and running in particular can help to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes and even some cancers.

Back in 2009, Finnish scientists published the conclusions of a 17-year-long study. Out of a group of 2,560 middle-aged men, they found that the ones who were physically active were the least likely to develop cancer.

Another study in the British Journal of Cancer calculated that the most active people were 24% less likely to develop colon cancer than the least active people, while a subsequent study by the National Cancer Institute discovered that women of a normal weight who reported the highest levels of vigorous activity were 30% less likely to get breast cancer than women who did no vigorous activity.

Regular exercise can help prevent a range of diseases and illnesses. Photo: iStock

I Did It!

6) Benefits Of Running: A Sharp Mind

A survey of British workers showed that employees made fewer mistakes on the days they worked out than on those days they didn’t. Running apparently boosts the blood flow to the brain and helps it to receive oxygen and nutrients which in turn causes higher levels of productivity and better concentration levels.

Running has also been said to have positive effects on age-related memory loss. A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that women who were active as teenagers were less likely to develop dementia later in life while a study published in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review concluded that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory.

7) Benefits Of Running: Sleep

A good night’s sleep should never be underestimated. Getting your 8-hours a night will contribute in a positive way to all of the benefits above. And there can be no denying that running has a positive impact on your sleep cycle. You will find that you will not only get to sleep quicker on days that you have been running, you will fall into a deeper sleep.

Running has a positive impact on your sleep cycle.  Photo: iStock

So as you can see, there really is no excuse not to reach for your trainers instead of the TV remote. Even if you run just a couple of miles, 5-days per week, you will notice the benefits and believe us, you’ll be hooked!

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