There are so many reasons to go for a run. Running has so many physical and mental benefits to running.
I’ve written about these benefits many times on my blog in an effort to provide some motivation for new and experienced runners to get outdoors and go for a run.
As part of my Running for Beginners series, I am writing a series of blog posts aimed at beginner runners that provide tips and advice when it comes to taking up running and developing a lifelong love of running.
Running is one of the easiest, healthiest, least expensive physical activities that you can incorporate into your workout routine. All you need is some pavement and the motivation to hit it!
No expensive equipment is needed
This is probably one of the best reasons to go for a run if you’re short on cash.
When you first start out running, you don’t need expensive or bespoke equipment to get started.
All you really need is a pair of decent running shoes which you can buy very easily from a high street shop and some comfortable clothing.
As you slowly build up your weekly mileage, you can then start to look at buying more specialist gear.
Gear like a decent running bra, running socks and some decent running leggings are all must haves in my book once you get a few more miles under your belt.
It reduces symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety
Running makes your body release ‘feel-good’ hormones like dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and norepinephrine which contribute to the amazing feel you get during and after a run.
Even walking can contribute to an improved mood.
Moving your body has positive effects on your physical and mental wellbeing.
It adds to the already significant body of research showing that running and other forms of aerobic exercise can improve mood and help fight anxiety and depression.
In June 2018, The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Parkrun UK launched a ground-breaking initiative to prescribe outdoor physical activity to patients rather than medication.
The initiative aims to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and health care staff, reducing the need for lifelong medication.
It also aims to further increase awareness amongst GPs, and all practice staff, of Parkrun and the positive impact physical activity and volunteering can have on health and wellbeing.
It helps you to lose weight
There’s no doubt Running for weight loss is a little more complicated than hitting the pavement and hoping the pounds melt away.
You’ll need to employ a strategy that includes a good diet, strength training and a consistent training plan in order to reap the long term benefits.
In order words, running isn’t an excuse to have a bad diet and forget about other forms of exercise that can help you become a stronger runner.
It helps you sleep better
Running and other forms of aerobic exercise help you get a better and longer night’s sleep.
Stress and anxiety are common causes of sleep problems, including trouble falling asleep and sleeping restlessly during the night.
Running requires you to expend energy and helps you feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day.
Research indicates that exercise—in particular, regular exercise that’s part of a consistent routine—can help boost sleep duration, in addition to sleep quality.
It strengthens your joints and bones
Four factors affect the development of your bones: nutrition, sunlight, exercise and hormonal secretion.
Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, is one of these major benefits.
Regular exercise has shown to strengthen your bones, reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis. Running is a weight-bearing or endurance exercise which helps to build and repair bone strength.
When you run, this motion causes new bone tissue to form (this process is called ossification), and thus helps bones become more healthy and strong.
By running you also strengthen the muscles attached to the bones in your legs and your joints.
The muscles contract when you run, thus allowing more blood to flow into them and around your body.
It lowers your blood pressure
Regular exercise like running makes your heart stronger.
A stronger heart can pump blood around your body more efficiently.
Your risk of high blood pressure increases with age, but exercising as part of your daily routine can make a big difference.
If your blood pressure is at a desirable level – less than 120/80 mm Hg – running can help prevent it from rising as you age.
Regular exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight — another important way to control blood pressure.
It increases your self-esteem
There are so many runners out there that attribute running to a greater self-worth and self-esteem.
It’s one of the major reasons I still run today.
I still remember my very first run – it felt incredible! Running involves setting and attaining goals – whether you’re building up to 1 mile, 5k, 10k or a half marathon.
When you succeed in attaining your running goal – a PB or not – this is a great boost for your confidence and self-esteem.
Next time you need a confidence boost, go for a run and see how you feel afterwards. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
Related: What to expect at your first Parkrun
It gets you outdoors
One of the best reasons to go for a run in my book. Exercising outdoors is one of my favourite things to do.
Being outside in those big, open green spaces is great for the body, mind and soul. As I get older, I try and practice mindful running a lot more.
Mindful running is essentially about being more mentally connected with your movement and not being distracted when you run.
Shrugging off external pressures and distractions and listening to your body sounds simple but it’s surprisingly hard when you’re used to thinking about a million things at once.
Next time you go for a run, try leaving your phone and sports watch at home and just listen to your body.
Related: How to practice mindful running
It helps you feel part of a community
Running allows you to become part of a big community of like-minded people who come together on a weekly basis, if not more, to build a sense of belonging and togetherness.
This is one of the major reasons to go for a run for a lot of people.
There are lots of running clubs and groups out there which you can join to maintain a regular running schedule, get some motivation and build accountability.
These groups also act as great support networks!
It inspires you to take up other forms of exercise
So many people take up running around the world because it’s free, fun and has a low barrier to entry.
Unlike other forms of exercise like cycling and tennis, for example, you need fairly little to get started.
Running, however, inspires many people to take up other forms of exercise like yoga, pilates, cycling, swimming and hiking.
The confidence you get from running means you feel better equipped both physically and mentally to challenge yourself in different ways.
Exercise like yoga and swimming are also great ways to include forms of cross training and strength training in your training plan.
This is very important when becoming a better and stronger runner.
Related: 6 strength workouts for runners