Running is one of the most popular means of exercise for a reason. We all know that running can help you lose weight, increase your endurance and boost your general health but what other (and more obscure) benefits does being a runner entail?
LOWER RESTING HEART RATES
Every runner tries to hide their smile when complimented by the nurse for an “excellent” resting heart rate (RHR) but a lower RHR is not just a means of impressing medical professionals, it can have beneficial health implications too.
A healthy resting heart rate is an important factor in staving off heart disease. Studies show that just a 12-week moderate aerobic training plan can reduce your heart rate by around 3 beats per minute (BPM).
A healthy resting heart rate is considered to be within the 60 – 100 BPM range but one study found that someone with a resting heart rate above 84 BPM over the course of 5 years would be 55% more likely to die from heart disease than someone with a lower RHR.
Can you think of anyone who doesn’t enjoy sleep? No, me neither. We all love to sleep and most people probably do not think they get enough of it. Well, guess what? Running helps!
A 2010 study suggests that the more aerobic exercise one gets, the more sleep one can enjoy. Research into the relationship between aerobic exercise and sleeping hygiene found that a 16-week training plan led to improvements in sleep latency, sleep duration, daytime dysfunction, and sleep efficiency.
Further encouraging benefits this particular study uncovered involved fewer depressive symptoms and increased daytime energy levels.
MORE ENERGY IN THE DAY
Running gives you energy – this statement might be counterintuitive but hear me out.
Running certainly tires you out in the short term (as it should) but long-term benefits of consistent exercise mean that it is easier to wake up in the mornings and have enough fuel to get through a day of work without crashing before lunchtime.
Running is one of the most effective ways of increasing your cardiovascular health, building muscle and balancing your body fat composition – these benefits are all connected to increased energy and quality of life.
IT IS ACTUALLY ENJOYABLE
I think the most unexpected benefits that I have personally found running is that it is actually enjoyable. I would even go so far as to say that running is fun. Crazy, isn’t it?
I would bet that a considerable number of people believe running to be a boring means of exercise. I thought this too until I began to run faster times, longer workouts and worked on my form. Once I started improving, it became a game.
I do admit, sometimes running is definitely not fun, but more often than not it is hugely rewarding. If you don’t expect to like it, you might be pleasantly surprised.