When was the last time you went for a jog? If you’re like most Australians, you’ve probably taken up running at some stage in your life – it’s free, it fits in with your schedule, it keeps you fit. Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other diseases. It helps build strong bones as it is a weight bearing exercise, it strengthens muscles and improves cardiovascular fitness. Running also improves our emotional wellbeing. Here are just some of the benefits of running regularly.
Running is great for your heart
Running is the king of cardio. It gets your heart pumping and drastically reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. Every time you run, you decrease your resting heart rate, so your heart doesn’t have to work as hard as before.
Running makes you happy
Yes, you hate waking up at the crack of dawn and going out for a run in the cold but, let’s face it, once you start, you feel upbeat and energised. This is called “runner’s high”, caused by a heady rush of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids and endorphins. Running can lift your mood, help fight depression and curb anxiety. In fact, running causes the same kind of neurochemical adaptations in brain reward pathways as some addictive drugs. Yes, it actually gives you a “high”!
Running strengthens your joints and bones
Running increases bone mass and even helps prevent age-related bone loss. Every time you run, you stress your bones and cartilage, just like your muscles, causing them to spring back stronger. But what about running injuries like ‘Runner’s Knee’? Well, if you’re running technique is sound, you shouldn’t suffer. In fact, not warming up, not stretching and not strengthening your body cause more harm. Our podiatrists and physiotherapists can check your strength and stability before you take up running.
Running keeps you fit
Running burns a lot of fuel. Whether you want to lose weight or maintain it, running burns calories not just while you’re working out, but even after you finish. This is called the “after burn” or EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption). If you want to ramp up the weight loss, head to a hilly area or a slope and you will burn even more calories.
Running prevents mental decay
Research has shown that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory. Regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems as well as attention, concentration, planning, and organising. Taking a run-break from a stressful project at the office can help you return feeling rejuvenated and sharp.
Running is free and flexible
It doesn’t cost a cent and can be fitted into a busy schedule: as soon as you wake up, during your lunch break, before dinner, etc. This is perfect for people who can’t seem to make other workouts or classes fit their work schedule/ lifestyle. Running adds years to your life and life to your years.
If you’re a beginner, keep these points in mind:
- See your GP for a check-up before you start a running program, especially if you’re over 40, overweight, have a chronic illness or haven’t exercised in a long time.
- A safe bet is to start with a 30-minute brisk walk. Over the next six weeks, slowly increase your jogging time, alternating between walking and jogging.
- Make sure you warm up and stretch thoroughly before you head out. Cool down with light stretches after a workout.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after any physical activity.
- Don’t overtrain as it can cause injury.
- Invest in an appropriate pair of shoes – our podiatrists can help choose running shoes that suit your foot type and function.
- If you sustain a running injury, see our physiotherapists immediately so that they can give you a rehabilitation plan to recover well.