Running is THE BEST exercise. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that running for 5-10 minutes at 6 miles/hour every day can reduce the risk of death due to all causes (1). Prof. William Haskell, the former chair of The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), says that running can add 3-7 years to your life (2). This simple exercise can improve your physical and mental fitness by leaps and bounds. This article discusses the best tips and health benefits of running to keep you motivated and going. Let’s begin!
A crucial and critical tip for running: Buy the right running shoes, or you will end up injuring yourself. Running can be strenuous if you do not have the right kind of shoes.
[Read: Best Workout Clothing Brands ]
Always remember to warm up a little before you actually start running. This prepares your body and mind for the physical activity that you are about to begin.
Always maintain the right posture while running. The wrong posture can do more harm than good – it can lead to pain in your back, neck, and even shoulders. Keep your spine erect, don’t raise your hands above the waist, and keep your elbows out.
Run at a pace that suits you the best. Beginners must gradually increase their pace. Sudden and frequent pace change can lead to injury and fatigue.
If you are a beginner, run a little and then walk for some time. This will help your body get used to the exercise. As you proceed, increase the running time and decrease the walking time.
Make sure you are breathing right. You must breathe through your mouth as well as nose. This helps you get enough oxygen for your muscles while you are running and also helps strengthen your lungs. The best breathing exercise is one that is borrowed from chi-running. It says,‘Breathe in for two steps, out for three steps.’
[ Read: Effective Breathing Exercises ]
If you have just started, time yourself first. Do not go by the miles. Track the total time you run in minutes. This is important because when you start, you start slow, and this would not result in too many miles. The idea is not to get discouraged.
Racing uphill tends to keep you fit and increases your body strength. All you need to do is run with short strides while you pump your arms. While going downhill, go for longer strides and relax your arms.
It is very important that you listen to your body. If it gets sore, take a day off to allow it to rest and recover.
Running barefoot on grass is very good for the acupressure points present on our feet and heels. It helps in healing various diseases and acne. However, be careful as you might end up pricking your feet. If you can’t go running barefooted, try minimalist shoes to simulate barefoot running.
Increasing your foot turnovers can strengthen your body, which helps in skin tightening and toning of the muscles. Experts suggest you take 180 steps per minute. This will also help in avoiding shin injuries.
Did you know that running on sand or the beach can improve your muscle tone? A study says that running on sand requires 1.6 times more energy than running on a track or in the park. This is because your body needs to work harder to deal with the unstable and soft surface.
These tips will help you run efficiently, burn calories, and feel less fatigued. Now, let’s see how running regularly can benefit you.
Running is an excellent way to reduce your bulging belly. It helps to strengthen the core muscles like the transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and the obliques that help tone and suck in your belly. Moreover, the flab on the muscles is whittled away, making your belly look toned and slim.
According to an article published in Clinics in Sports Medicine, long distance running has a positive effect on the heart and helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (3). Slow and steady jogging on the treadmill or the road can work your heart properly, help mobilize the fat, and prevent artery clogging.
Toned legs always look good. Running helps tone your outer thighs, inner thighs, hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves. When you run, you use all the muscles in your legs, buttocks, core, and arms. When you work these muscles, they undergo wear and tear, but they grow stronger when you get proper rest and help them recover.
Running is an excellent workout for weight loss. It helps burn more calories, works on both small and large muscle groups, helps mobilize the fat, and reduces visceral fat. American scientists studied the effect of running and walking on weight loss. Their study concluded that running is more effective than walking when it comes to weight loss (4).
According to WHO, about 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression (5). It is a serious issue and should not be ignored. Scientists have found that running can stimulate the release of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and is as effective psychotherapy in treating depression (6).
[ Read: How To Fight Depression With Meditation? ]
Running helps strengthen the bones and joints. Numerous studies have found that it has the upper hand over walking or any other exercise when it comes to boosting the strength of the bones and joints. Running reduces the risk of osteoarthritis and hip replacement and strengthens the intervertebral disc (7), (8).
If you feel stressed out, stop whatever you are doing and run for a good 20 minutes. By the end of it, your stress will vanish like magic. Running helps improve your mood, flushes out toxins, and is a great way to eliminate negative thoughts. It helps you think clearly about situations you are worried about and enables you to take better decisions.
I say this from firsthand experience that running gives you a high – a healthy one. No side effects, only benefits. Once you get used to running for at least 10 minutes a day, you will feel the urge to run every day and also have a competitive spirit to outdo the previous day’s performance.
You do not need a special suit, equipment or specific time to run. You can just run anytime and anywhere. You may run in the morning or evening, on the treadmill or in the park. In fact, if you are stressed out or feel depressed, run. Don’t bother if it is afternoon or midnight.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine Study, people who performed an aerobic activity at least five days a week suffered 43% lesser from upper respiratory tract infections. Also, if runners caught a cold, the symptoms were less severe. So, if you have the common cold, get on the treadmill and run to give your immunity a boost.
Vitamin D is produced when you are out in the morning sun. It is important for your bones, skin, and immunity. But most of the times, we do not get proper sun exposure, leading to weak immunity and bones and increased risk of skin cancer. Get up early in the morning and run to get your dose of vitamin D. It will also make you feel energetic for the rest of the day.
[ Read: Vitamin D Rich Foods ]
Scientists have found that running helps prevent cardiovascular disease, fever, and allergies, reduces the risk of diabetes, stress, and depression, and improves brain function (9). It can make you immune to any cause of death and disease.
Running is a great form of exercise, and you will surely love it. Of course, along with running, you must eat healthy and do strength training if you want to build muscle. So, go get your running shoes and start running! Cheers!