Physical activity is an important contributor to one’s health and wellness, yet it seems that an increasing number of people in the U.S. are not getting enough exercise. Cardiovascular exercises such as running are particularly important for maintaining a healthy heart and reducing the incidence and impact of conditions like obesity and multiple sclerosis. Running is a great exercise because it requires no equipment besides a decent pair of tennis shoes and some motivation. Here is a list of some significant health benefits that can result from regularly going on a run.
Running Melts the Most Calories
Why try running instead of another cardio exercise? Research suggests that running is one of the best types of exercise for weight loss. One study found that running on a treadmill increased heart rates and energy expenditure (calories burned) more than using a skiing machine, cycling machine, rowing machine or even a stair stepper. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet are essential steps to achieving weight loss and ensuring a healthy future. Considering that obesity increases the risk of diseases like heart disease, cancer, MS and type 2 diabetes, it is important to find what form of exercise best suits your needs and goals.
Running Isn’t Likely to Kill Your Knees
As it turns out, the myth that too much jogging can cause wear and tear on the joints is false. Indeed, research into this subject suggests that running may even be beneficial for the joints of healthy adults. In one study, researchers discovered that participants at risk of osteoarthritis actually showed signs of improved cartilage volume and joint function after running compared to those who didn’t exercise. In those with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, regular exercise has been shown to improve coordination, flexibility, joint stiffness and muscle control, which lowers the risk of movement limitations.
Running Can Relieve Stress
Stress is a fairly normal reaction to the ups and downs of work, school and family life. Too much stress, however, can impair your mental health, affect your sleep quality and even cause symptoms to flare up in conditions like multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. Thankfully, running releases feel-good endorphins (often called a “runner’s high”) that can ease stress. Like meditation in motion, the repetitive movements from running can also help calm your mind and focus your thoughts. If that wasn’t reason enough, regular exercise can boost your self-esteem, which may affect the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body.
Running May Improve Mental Health
A wealth of scientific literature spanning over a century has linked regular exercise with improved mood in people with mild to moderate depression. In fact, exercise can be so effective at reducing symptoms of depression that it has been used as a supplementary form of treatment. Considering that chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to reduced mobility and increased risk of depression, exercise may be especially vital for patients with these chronic conditions. Indeed, preliminary studies suggest the physical activity may improve coordination, fatigue, depression and quality of life in MS patients.