Running is one of the best ways to stay fit since it gives you a full-body workout, and what’s more, it’s completely free. However, let’s face it, we don’t always feel up to donning our running shoes and hitting the trails.
The thing is, running has so many benefits that go far beyond merely staying healthy; however, we all know that health is the main reason people start running.
What’s more, you’re not limited on how and when you can run; think Phoebe in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s down to you to make your running experience as enjoyable as possible. While you get your ideas together, consider some of the life-changing benefits of running outlined in this mega guide!
1. It Melts The Fat Right Off
The most simple way to explain weight gain and weight loss is by looking at your calorie intake. According to Mayo Clinic, if you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll put on weight.
In modern times, there’s a big focus on maintaining a healthy weight, that has little to do with appearance, and more to do with your overall health.
You see, when you put on excessive weight, it can have devastating effects such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
However, running is a simple and affordable way to burn calories. According to Healthline, a runner could stand to burn around 100 calories for every mile they run.
Of course, some factors will affect this number such as your running speed, age, overall health, and even the type of terrain you’re running on.
In any case, with running as part of your regular exercise routine, you’ll notice the fat starts melting off.
2. You’ll Get Those Toned Thighs You Always Wanted
For many people, the bane of their life is untoned thighs. Rightly or wrongly, there is a beauty standard associated with this part of the body and without getting into a debate about it, there’s no denying that many people, women especially, want to work on their thighs for aesthetic reasons.
But this isn’t something that comes easily; it involves a decent amount of hard work, and running could be a viable way of getting those immaculately toned thighs you keep dreaming about!
When you run, a lot of fat is burned on the upper legs. Once the fat has been burned, you’ll notice how much more toned your thighs are.
This is all thanks to the intense workout that both the hamstrings and quads receive during a run.
3. Your Skin Will Glow
Everybody wants healthier looking skin; am I right?
However, it can be difficult to maintain; you can use all the fancy creams in the world, but without regular exercise, you’re going to struggle.
Where running is concerned, it helps with that healthy glow your skin has been lacking.
I’d totally understand if you thought I was crazy by saying that going for a run could improve your skin, but there’s evidence to back it up.
Of course, running isn’t a replacement for your skincare products, but it does encourage circulation.
As a result of this, more blood is delivered to the skin’s surface which in turn, gives it a much healthier, glowing appearance.
This blood carries increased levels of nutrients and oxygen, which may just be the boost your skin has been crying out for.
4. Did Somebody Say…Calf Muscles?
The calves are thought to be one of the most challenging muscles to build. Quite often, I will do repeated workouts on them to no avail.
But as soon as I discovered that running makes a difference, I was intrigued. And you know, I was very pleasantly surprised.
As you run more and more, your calves will benefit in a few different ways. You’ll begin building strength and stamina in these muscles.
If your legs are sore at the start of a run, you’ll notice a big improvement over time.
After a while, you’ll have the toned, strong calves that you have always dreamed of.
Related Article: Best Running Shoes For Calf Pain
5. Your Mind Will Evolve
The benefits of running are not only related to your physical health. The mind can vastly benefit from taking part in a regular run. One of the most notable effects is a drastic increase in confidence.
In modern times, it‘s common to feel a little down on yourself at times. We are forced into sticking to busy schedules, causing us to feel deflated.
As you run more and more, you’ll begin to appreciate your life, which helps evolve your state of mind.
There is also the addition of setting and achieving your goals, which will allow you to see life through a whole new lens.
All of these things help you feel empowered, in control, and happier. Furthermore, you’ll notice that, with time, your focus improves which will increase your productivity, further boosting that confidence and positive mindset.
6. No More Flabby Arms
You could be forgiven for thinking that running would only target the muscles in the lower body, since it’s where most of the action is going on; however, running provides a full-body workout, especially when using the correct technique.
Most runners will swing their arms as they move. While this may feel easy, over time, your muscles will become defined.
Moreover, since running burns so many calories, any fat or flab in this area will quickly begin to felt away.
If you’re really keen to get those arms in tip-top condition, it can help to run with weights. However, it’s important not to overdo it, as it could cause more harm than good.
Slow and steady, as they say!
7. You’ll Become A Cardio Freak
With each run, endorphins are released by the brain. This allows the runner to feel a certain high.
Some of the hormones released during cardio workouts, like running, can leave you wanting more. This causes you to become what I like to call a cardio freak.
While it may be much ‘cooler’ to be seen in the gym pumping iron, cardio workouts are more physically demanding, so you’ll feel much better afterwards.
The more you achieve, the more you’ll want to do, and the more you’ll notice the impressive physical and mental results.
Of course, it’s possible to become addicted to exercise, including running, so it’s essential to stay mindful and not cross that line into potentially dangerous territory. After all, it’s about balance.
8. Life’s Problems Become Challenges
If you ever notice problems piling up in your life, running could be the answer.
While it isn’t going to solve all your issues, it allows you to enter a different mindset, causing you to approach problems differently.
Running is no mean feat. There are so many challenges you have to overcome.
From the simplest of things like finding the best running shoes and discovering new trails, to more difficult situations like running through the pain of blisters and keeping up the pace on a hot day.
If you can get through these challenges, the other issues in your life suddenly begin to seem more manageable.
The story of one runner whose eye problems began to seem less intimidating after tackling tough runs is an inspiring way to get on the right path to being a stronger runner.
9. Sleep Becomes Effortless
In modern times, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed, and while you may think being overwhelmed is something that boosts your ability to sleep, it can often make it more challenging to drift off at night.
While we must remain active, another key aspect of taking care of our bodies is getting enough sleep. Without this, we are at higher risk of developing physical and mental health complications.
Still, so many people are not getting as many ZZZ’s as they should each night.
There have been many studies that prove running helps you get a peaceful and beneficial night’s rest.
Moreover, if you’re getting regular quality sleep, you’ll have much more energy during the day. Dedicated runners find they are more likely to stick to a running routine when they feel less tired; it’s a win-win.
10. Raised Metabolism
Higher metabolism is linked to weight loss, so if you are looking to use running as part of a larger weight loss program, this tip is for you.
You see, when you move your body, it burns energy and calories. This process works when enzymes within the body break down food and convert it into energy.
You might imagine your metabolism as being a little PT inside your body; the more you work out, the harder it works to create and burn energy.
Running regularly and intensely is a great way to boost your metabolism, which results in losing more than a few pounds!
11. Lower Heart Rate
When running, your heart rate is higher. This is because your body is using up more energy, so the heart needs to pump faster to deliver oxygen and nutrients.
However, over time, running could lower your resting heart rate. Studies have shown that those who take part in regular aerobic exercise tend to have a lower resting heart rate.
When your heart is healthy, it lowers the chances of getting heart disease, which is one of the biggest killers in the USA.
12. You’ll Start Experiencing The Famous ‘Runners High’
Running can feel challenging at first.
That’s because you’re putting your body under physical strain that it’s not used to. But rest assured, all will come good and the benefits will soon appear.
One benefit is runner’s high, which is a temporary feeling of euphoria after a bout of running.
When this happens, you’ll suddenly feel as though you can take on the world; many people report feeling as though they could keep running forever.
The reason this happens is because, when you exercise, the brain releases a hormone known as endorphins.
You’ve probably heard about this hormone. And the good news is that it’s related to feelings of joy, pleasure, and relaxation.
For many runners, runners high can even minimize muscle soreness; at least while the runner’s high is taking place.
But what’s even more interesting is the brain also releases a chemical known as endocannabinoids which are found in cannabis.
This chemical also plays a very important role in the onset of runner’s high, and is present when we experience other forms of joy such as sexual pleasure.
13. No More Fatigue
It might seem a little counteractive, but running helps reduce fatigue. Of course, directly after a run, you may feel tired which is natural; however, for people who experience regular, crippling fatigue, this is something entirely different.
According to the NHS, in the United Kingdom, fatigue is often linked to issues within our lifestyle. Stress, poor diet, and a lack of exercise are all to blame.
However, by taking part in regular runs, your body will receive a much-needed energy boost.
To begin with, it may feel incredibly challenging as you try to push through that tiredness. But it’ll soon be much more rewarding and you’ll feel ready to take on the world.
14.Run Faster For Increased Testosterone (For The Guys)
Low testosterone doesn’t only cause some underlying health concerns such as depression, fatigue, and a low sex drive, but it can also cause a man to experience very low self-esteem.
While it may be a cliche, there is still a link between testosterone levels and feeling manly.
Medications and working with your doctor are viable ways to improve your testosterone levels, but running could give things a boost.
In the fitness world, weight training is said to be best for testosterone levels; however this isn’t entirely true.
It has been demonstrated that shorter, more intense aerobic workouts like running could increase your testosterone levels.
That said, it’s also believed that long-distance and slower runs may have the opposite effect. So, if you want that boost, you should focus on high-intensity sprints.
15. Your Creativity Will Skyrocket (Especially During A Run)
If you have a job or hobby that requires you to constantly have your creative juices flowing, it can be very draining.
Forcing yourself to be creative is almost impossible, and in these situations, people have to rely on those eureka moments.
There have been links made between a boost in creativity, and exercise. Research suggests that it’s most prominent when performing aerobic exercise such as running.
This is down to the brain’s improved ability to create neural connections.
Further studies have shown creativity spikes when moving, even when doing something as simple as walking.
The most obvious creativity boost occurs during your run and in the moments shortly after. So, if you’ve been struggling for ideas for your latest project, it may take nothing more than hitting your favorite trail to get some inspiration.
16. You’ll Understand What It’s Like To Be In A Meditative State
When you think of meditation, I would bet my bottom dollar you imagine a Buddha-like figure sitting with closed eyes and chanting ‘ohmm.’
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking this; however, meditation is so much more than sitting in silence and clearing the mind.
In fact, with the activity becoming so popular and the health benefits being realized, more and more people are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.
That said, for some people, it’s difficult to concentrate. But that’s where movement meditation comes in.
Movement meditation involves using an activity, such as running, to focus the mind and remain present.
Mindfulness meditation is all about focusing on the present moment by engaging with all your senses.
As you run, you might notice the wind moving across your skin, the sound of the birds, or how your feet feel as they hit the ground.
Staying with these feelings is meditating. Just because you are moving, doesn’t make a difference. You’re well on your way to an improved state of mind.
17. Boosts Your Motivation
When you first lace up those new running shoes and head out the door, you’re ready to take on any challenge that running throws at you.
But don’t be fooled, at the end of your first run, you may feel more deflated than you ever have; however, this doesn’t last forever.
You’ll soon be ready to beat your goals and get back out there. While it may take some time, you’ll begin to notice more progress on each run.
This will almost certainly encourage you to be more motivated and keep achieving.
But this new sense of motivation won’t only be apparent in your workout routine, it’ll also rub off in other areas of your life. As soon as you see what you’re capable of, you’ll be driven to keep outdoing yourself.
If you struggle with running motivation, there are many ways to get the ball rolling.
For example, running on a Monday when everything is fresh works great. What’s more, it’ll set the tone for the rest of the week, helping you smash those goals!
18. More Appreciation For Your Body
Sadly, there are millions of people who loathe their own bodies.
Whether it’s because they feel unfit and uncapable, or because they don’t like the way their bodies look, it’s an important issue.
Running is a great way to improve your appreciation for that amazing body of yours! Primarily, you’ll notice how much your body is truly capable of.
If you thought you’d never be able to run a marathon; think again. With the right training, almost anyone can work up to these goals.
As a result, you’ll start to notice how incredible your body is; how your legs keep moving through pain, how your heart races to keep up with the action, and how your physical fitness keeps improving.
Moreover, as you begin to lose weight, tone muscles, and target those areas that you aren’t happy with, you’ll begin to love your body and embrace it, resulting in a much healthier mental state.
19. Immune Health Improves
It’s no surprise that a healthy lifestyle can lower your chances of contracting illnesses and diseases. This is something we have all been taught from a very young age.
But have you ever thought about why this is?
Well, research has shown there is a very clear link between diet, exercise, and an improved immune system.
However, there is a catch. Exercise must be done in moderation because once it becomes too much, you may need time to recover, and this can have adverse effects.
In the studies completed on the effects of running on the immune system, it was shown that those who run frequently may have an improved ability to detect diseases and fight them before they become problematic.
This involved things such as respiratory infections like flu, inflammation, and issues in the gut. Antibodies responded much more quickly, and as a result, many believe that running may contribute to a longer life.
20. Let Those Stresses Go
Stress is part of our everyday lives. I know that when I’ve had a stressful day, I need to find a way to release the tension.
If I don’t, it’ll build up until I’m either crying or taking out my anger on those around me. It isn’t healthy to feel this way and stress can have a devastating physical impact on the body.
Exercise, and running in particular, is known to be an excellent method of reducing stress.
Studies have shown that running can actually have a noticeable effect on the brain, blocking out negative impacts caused by stress, leaving you feeling lighter.
As your energy levels rise during a run and happy hormones are released, your stress levels decrease. You can let everything go and remain in the moment; what’s not to love?
Is it Healthy To Run Every Day?
Running can become addictive, especially when you get that runner’s high. But there is some debate over whether running every day is good for you?
If you think about it, it’s all relative.
I may be able to only manage four days of running each week; however, you may find running every day incredibly easy.
You should only ever do what your body allows you to. If you feel you’re struggling and need a rest; don’t be too proud to take a break!
That all said, there has been research into this subject and the results are quite surprising.
Where most people would assume that running every day would provide you with the best health benefits, you might actually only need to run for up to four and a half hours per week.
This is because there is a point where the advantages of running will max out. If you can manage just over an hour, four times a week, this should be more than enough to keep you healthy.
What’s even more interesting is that the same study proved that running for short bursts is far more beneficial than long distance when it comes to maintaining your health.
Therefore, if you are a new runner looking to make a productive start, as little as ten minutes a day could be sufficient.
In addition to running, it’s also important to factor in other fitness goals. You might want to work on your strength or add in some yoga sessions to flex and stretch the muscles.
All of these things combined will give you more favorable results than running alone.
If you do decide to run every day, there is nothing wrong with this, but you must make sure to you give yourself the best protection against injury.
This is one of the unfortunate hazards of exercise; you could sustain muscular or joint injury.
Using the correct running shoes and warming your body up before getting started are just some of the ways to give yourself the best protection. Furthermore, don’t try to do too much too soon.
It’s better to run half a mile on your first few outings and build up to those longer runs, otherwise, you risk harming yourself.
Not only this, but if you struggle on the first few runs, you may find it puts you off trying again in the future.
A Timeline Of What Happens To Your Body When You Start Running
Regardless of your fitness level, one thing is for sure; running is going to improve it. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And the same can be said for running.
From that very first run to the moment you realize you’ve beaten your most challenging goal, your body will undergo an amazing transformation.
Here’s what it looks like…
Now you have a general idea of what to expect, let me break it down even further…
After 1 Week
When you’ve been running for around a week, you’ll start to crave more elements of a healthy lifestyle.
Your body will feel more energized and you’ll want to supplement it with fruit, vegetables, and plenty of water.
You’ll also notice that, while running still isn’t easy, your breathing and heart rate aren’t quite as erratic as they were on the first day.
After 1 Month
Now that you have been running for a month, your sleep quality will be vastly improved. Studies have shown that after five weekly sessions over three weeks, sleep was improved, and focus better retained during the day.
As your muscles are now officially ‘broken in’ to running, you’ll notice that everything just feels easier.
As a result of this, you’ll be able to run a little further, and picking up the pace will be less challenging.
After 2 Months
You’ve been running for some time now and it’s become much more a part of your day-to-day routine.
The improvements in comfort where muscles are concerned are continuing, but you may also notice your muscles feeling a little tighter.
If you’re aiming for weight loss, it’s at this point that you may have noticed a marked difference. If you’ve been trying to slim down to fit into that outfit, now is a good time to try it.
After 3 Months
At three months, your leg strength will be massively improved. Alongside this, your endurance will have also improved. But the results of your three months of running aren’t purely in performance.
Inside your body, your blood sugar levels will have become more balanced, and you’ll notice that your resting heart rate is lower.
Off the back of this, blood pressure is decreased and you’ll start feeling generally better in yourself.
After 6 Months
If you’ve made it this far, well done!
The health benefits are only going to get bigger and better. But what is most exciting is that your mental drive will be improved.
You’ll have set and beaten many running goals by this point and your determination and motivation will have you in a positive mindset and ready to take on the next challenge.
All of that running will have had an effect on your metabolism. As a result of this, you’ll have noticed how easier it’s to maintain a healthy weight.
After 1 Year
We all know running can improve your mental health.
And it’s at this point that you’ll begin to notice how much happier you feel!
You’ll likely turn to running every time you feel anxious, low, or stressed, and it’ll serve as a natural antidepressant.
Your endurance and strength will be much better by this time. What’s more, you’ll be able to run up to three times further than you could on day one.
If you are looking for an easy way to work out, you may find that running is a good option.
It can seem like hard work; however, providing you break yourself into the sport gently, the results can be astonishing.
Running regularly not only increases your physical health but also benefits your mental health.
Everything from improved sleep to fighting depression and a greater passion for life may all be experienced through the joy of running!