01.IT PROTECTS YOUR HEART
Running just 10 miles a week reduces the risk of heart disease by an impressive 42 per cent, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Any form of aerobic exercise is good for your ticker, although long-term research from Harvard Medical School found that more vigorous activities, like running, are better than low to moderate ones, like walking.
02.IT MAKES YOU HAPPY
Running puts a smile on your face and reduces anxiety and depression. This is often put down to the release of endorphins, those brain chemicals that give us a ‘euphoric’ feeling. But simply ‘switching off’ from your usual stresses and worries for half an hour or so is undoubtedly a mood-boosting factor, too.
03.IT STRENGTHENS YOUR BONES
You’ve probably heard the term ‘use it or lose it’ in relation to muscle strength and tone – well, the same is true of bones. ‘Loading’ bones, through weight-bearing exercise, is what makes them adapt and grow stronger. That’s why the bones in a tennis player’s ‘racquet arm’ are denser and stronger than in their other arm! It’s also why high-impact exercise like running and jumping are more effective than weight-supported activities like swimming or cycling.
04.IT RAISES YOUR IQ!
If you’ve ever experienced that feeling of alertness and focus after a run, you won’t be surprised to hear that running is positively beneficial to your grey matter. Research shows that exercise increases production of key brain chemicals that encourage the growth of new cells and help develop new neural pathways (lines of communication between the brain and the body). A recent Swedish study found a clear link between high levels of aerobic fitness and better results in an IQ test – making running the ideal workout for a brain boost.
05.IT MAINTAINS JOINT HEALTH
If anyone tells you that running is going to ‘wreck your knees’, nod politely and keep on running! Movement is what gets synovial fluid - the sticky stuff that coats joint endings - flowing, keeping joints nourished and healthy. A Stanford University study put paid to the idea that running is bad for joints – the researchers monitored 500 runners and 500 non-runners over a 20-year period and found that it was the non-runners who suffered more wear and tear on their joints.
06.IT RAISES ENERGY LEVELS
When you’ve had a hard day, it’s tempting to think that lazing on the sofa is a better idea than heading out for a run, but the truth is that running will recharge your batteries and boost energy levels. It will also help you sleep better - according to the US National Sleep Foundation, regular daytime physical activity can help you drop off more quickly and get better quality sleep.
07.IT KEEPS YOU IN SHAPE
Since running entails transferring your body weight from one foot to another approximately 10,000 times per hour, it’s a seriously energy-hungry activity. Running 3 miles, 3 times a week, will torch around 1000 calories. As well as helping to keep excess body fat at bay, running also tones and strengthens every muscle from the waist down.
08.IT IMPROVES YOUR BODY CONFIDENCE
Feeling fitter and looking more toned and trim can’t fail to have a positive effect on your body image. But recent research from the University of Florida found that the simple act of exercise is enough to make people feel more confident about their appearance, whether they become fitter or not. And that means you’ll start feeling good about yourself from day one – even before those health and fitness benefits start rolling in.
09.IT ADDS YEARS TO YOUR LIFE
If life is a race against time, then we runners are ahead of the pack! Research published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that runners live between 2.8 and 5.7 years longer than the general population.
10.IT KEEPS YOU YOUNG
As well as adding years to your life, running will add life to your years. Increasingly, scientists believe that changes in fitness levels as we age are not down to chronology but as a result of becoming less active as we get older, lowering energy expenditure and causing muscle mass to decline. But research from Tel Aviv University shows that regular exercise increases what’s known as ‘spontaneous locomotion’ - the impulse to get up and be active.