Benefits Of Running

Running Has Many Positive Benefits On The Body

Running is good for you in so many ways.

When I think about running I get excited at the idea of my limbs moving, my heart rate climbing and beads of sweat forming on my forehead. Then I imagine that feeling I get after my run is over, where my body feels light and airy and my cheeks rosy, but more importantly I feel elated and joyful because of the endorphins and enkephalins running through my blood.  Ask any avid runner and they will agree that the ‘high’ that comes following a great run is irreplaceable and incomparable to anything. Not only is running good for your cardiovascular health, it is also good for your mental health. However, there is also some debate around whether running is good for you or not.

Running: Exercise Is Like Medicine

Since exercise is medicine, running should be the number one choice to keep people healthy and happy.  Numerous studies have shown that running can prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, to name a few.  Just hearing that we can ward off a few health issues has me wanting to lace up my running shoes and stomp some pavement. Another enticing fact is that running has been shown to benefit mental health, sleep quality and concentration.  Whenever you hear someone comment about the ‘runners high’ they are referring to the rush of ‘feel good’ hormones that get released after a run.  They are powerful enough to instantly elevate someone from depression and keep your mood uplifted for hours following a run.

If you are looking for a way to boost your metabolism then running may be the activity for you.  Studies show that running at 70 percent of your maximum, which is the equivalent of running a little faster than an easy pace, can increase your ‘after-burn’ by 30 percent – that is the number of calories you burn after exercise. That sounds like the kind of side effect I could get used to.

Many people are afraid to engage in regular running for fear they will wear down the cartilage in their knees and promote bone loss.  However, a study conducted at Boston University has made no such correlation. The study concluded that people with knee arthritis don’t necessarily have a history of running and conversely, when they followed runners, the incidence of knee arthritis was not any more than expected with non-runners.

If you’re looking for a way to stay sharper longer then you either want to keep up your regular running or start up a running program. There are so many studies that support the findings that older and more ‘fit’ adults are able to defeat ‘age related’ mental decline.  Besides staying sharp and of sound mind, burning more calories and maintaining strong bones, running can also help you live longer and provide an improved quality of life.  Although this sounds like a done deal and we should all start running there are a few things we should consider before committing whole heartedly.

“Sweat is fat crying.” When I read this quote I couldn’t help but laugh and now think of it every time I am engage in anything physical. It motivates me to keep going and push harder to make those fat cells cry.  Although I used to be an avid runner (in my twenties) I still enjoy it, but at a much more leisurely pace and less often.  With all the health benefits that are a side effect of running there are a few facts that are important to consider.  For example, researchers tracked 52,000 people for 30 years and found that runners had 19 percent lower risk of death than non-runners.  That being said the health benefits of exercise seemed to diminish among people who ran more than 20 miles per week, more than 6 days per week at a pace of six to seven miles per hour. It appears that most health benefit is gained from running between 5 to 19 miles three to four times per week.  When following those guidelines risk of death dropped by 25 percent, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a popular journal.

When you workout, your body works hard to burn sugar and fat for fuel and this causes the release of free radicals that float around your body and they have the ability to bind with cholesterol to create plaque buildup in your arteries.  This is known as oxidative stress and our bodies are naturally designed to deal with it for the first hour of exercise, so excessive oxidative stress causes you to use up the antioxidants in your body and predisposes you to problems later on.

Gearing up for the Run

So it seems that starting a running program to stay fit and healthy, improve longevity and elevate your mood is a good plan.  As long as you keep it at a minimum of 3 to 4 days of the week and less than 20 miles per week you are sure to see a huge improvement in your health.  However, like any new endeavour there are things to consider before you commence.

Our feet are our foundation and must be cared for properly if we want to participate in regular running.

Tips On Running Shoes

Getting the perfect pair of running shoes is going to have the greatest impact on your performance, so when considering shoes for your run keep the following in mind.

Find a running shoe with the right width for your feet: A shoe that is too wide or too tight may affect your performance and may cause ankle instability by allowing too much movement or not enough. So be sure to find the perfect width.

Get arch support: That means you have to find a shoe that will support the arch of your foot since the arch is the structural support of the entire body. Every time you pound the pavement your arch is taking on all the pressure of that movement.  You may need to consider custom orthotics/inserts to accommodate for your arch. A motion control shoe may do the trick since it will help prevent inward rolling of the arch.

Lightweight and airy: Running shoes made of light materials that have breathability are best for your feet. According to Runner’s World Magazine, you hit the ground with a force that is double your weight when you run. In order to lessen the impact, find a shoe that is lightweight.

Support your heel: If you already suffer from Plantar Fascitis (flat feet) you likely have heel pain also so selecting a shoe that holds your heel in place and prevents over-pronation is best.

Flexion of your foot: A running shoe should allow the foot to naturally flex at the toes as you take off with each stride. All things considered, running still comes up as an excellent choice to stay fit and health as long as you take the few facts I listed above into consideration. Any form of activity has a positive impact on our physical and mental state so either commencing a new running program or keeping the one you already have is medicine in itself.  The feeling after the run is worth the preparation for it so for a short time. That’s right: “Forget the miles and Remember the Glory.”


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About the Author

Dr. Claudia Machiella

Dr. Claudia Machiella

Dr. Claudia Machiella owns and operates one of the GTA’s leading chiropractic clinics.  Since 2001 Dr. Claudia Machiella has grown and built her practice and has been a Chiropractic advocate in her community.  Most recently she has opened a second location in Vaughan in order to provide increased accessibility to chiropractic so that more people […]

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