When we wonder about the benefits of running for our health, it might be better to ask just how many ways a consistent routine can benefit us. But how does running help or improve the function of your body?
1. Running helps your muscles
There is no doubt that you are working your leg muscles when you run: your calves, quads, and hamstrings, to name a few. But running activates many other muscle groups and therefore many other muscles besides those in your legs. What other muscles do you use when you run?
- Hip flexors
- Thoracic diaphragm
- Erector spinae
- Pelvic floor muscles
- Back and shoulder muscles
Running is a full-body workout!
2. Running helps your heart
There have been and continue to be research studies that point to running as an effective disease prevention tool. Furthermore, these same studies show that a sedentary lifestyle (along with other factors) can lead to poor cardiovascular health. Your heart is made of muscle and needs exercise as much as any others in your body; running is one of the best ways to do so.
There are studies that suggest intense running could create a sort of wear and tear on the heart muscles. But this is in extreme marathon runners’ cases and is somewhat disputed.
Regular jogs, runs, and fast-paced walks are still a great way to keep your heart in top shape. As with any workout, learn your limits, know your limits, and stay within them. Learning your limits often comes down to learning your resting heart rate, your exercise heart rate, and when your heart rates are getting too high. A simple fitness tracker can monitor your heart rate all day, not just during your runs.
3. Running helps your brain
There are the immediate effects we feel on our brain and mind from a jog with the release of dopamine like relaxation, a calming sensation, or the feeling of a clear mind–whatever that may mean to you. But research indicates that there could be positive long-term effects, too.
According to an article from positivepsychology.com and their cited studies, regular exercise and movement, in general, can help create new neurons, improve how existing neurons work, and stimulate the release of neurotransmitters. And these three positive effects on your brain have even more benefits within each. The physical effects include better memory, increase focus, and decreased brain fog.
4. Running helps your mental health
Those brain benefits of running we list above have mental benefits on your brain functions too, like decreased stress, improvement in emotional control, and possibly decreased anxiety on all sorts of levels.
This is not to say that jogging can replace actual mental health support, but it is proven to act as a temporary mood booster. And when practiced regularly, you may see these effects more regularly. Running can also help lessen small irritations you face in a day. It can be a sort of meditation exercise if you get into the right rhythm.
5. It helps you lose weight or achieve other goals
Are you looking to get more steps in a day? More strength for other daily activities? Or maybe you’re looking to shed a little bit of weight for personal or medical reasons. Running can help you achieve these, and many other, personal goals. Incorporating running, jogging, or even speed walking into your life or workouts can be a useful motivator for other parts of life.
Losing weight may not be a fitness goal for all, but it is for many. Whatever your reasons may be, a regular running routine can help get your body in a fat-burning zone; it is more useful as a weight-loss tool when you fit the run in before weight or resistance training.
Smartwatches, Jogging & Your Health
One of the things we love most about the entire smartwatch industry is the focus on improving health and well-being. When you start to track your runs with a smartwatch or fitness tracker, you begin to see important trends (depending on the running features your smartwatch offers): how your heart rate fluctuates, your average/max./min. pace, distances achieved, elevation gained or lost, floors climbed, and exact mapped routes of your runs.
You can then view all of this data on your phone and take note of any trends: maybe your heart rate is getting too high; maybe you can exert more energy; maybe you need to regulate your breathing–a smartwatch or tracker can inform you of some or all of this! If you choose the right one, you can even listen to music on your smartwatch while running.
How we run, when we do it, and to what extent we push our workouts are all personal. They depend on our current health stats, especially when it comes to our heart health, current weight, height, access to equipment or running areas, and other factors. But if we work those factors into our running workouts, and determine what routine works best for our own selves, then running for exercise has several positive effects.
You can think of consistent running (without overdoing or pushing yourself beyond your limits) as a total body exercise, inside and out, physical and mental. It is the simplest and often cheapest way to get all of our muscles moving and can be a great way to achieve so many of your fitness goals!
Bernadette has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (where she lives). She has a passion for writing and we like her contribution and style to our blog. Bernadette loves the outdoors and things like hiking, camping, and biking. Wishing she could travel more.
Bernadette is an editor, writer and proofreader for Superwatches. Currently lives in Alberta Canada.