Running – Good or Bad for your health?

Running – Good or Bad for your health? | Robert Nienaber

Is Running Good for You?

When you look at the number of entrants in major marathons, and even the average fun run, it’s easy to see that a lot of people embrace running as a form of aerobic exercise. It’s also a common aspect of cross-training for other forms of sport, like rugby, swimming, soccer, cycling and even equestrian pursuits.

Some people thrive when they take up this type of exercise, others suffer injury after injury, so it makes sense to wonder, is running good for my fitness goals, or will it end in disaster.

These are the benefits and drawbacks of running as a form of exercise.

Running Boosts Cardiovascular Health

All aerobic activity, gets your blood pumping faster, helping to strengthen your cardiac muscles and improve your lung’s performance. The good news is that even a little bit of running can help keep these organs healthy and operating at their best.

Studies show that just five minutes of aerobic exertion can improve your cardiovascular fitness and help you avoid cardiovascular disease. The further you run, the better, as long as you don’t strain yourself beyond your level of fitness.

So, start slowly and work your way up to what works best for you.

Running Helps You Dodge Death

Apart from sidestepping heart attack and stroke, at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily can help you avoid a host of other things that can cause premature death.

Some studies have shown that exercise can even reduce your risk of contracting cancer.

For many people, running is the easiest and most convenient way to get their quota of exercise for the week. After all, almost everyone can run, and importantly, you can run anywhere.

Running Can Beat Obesity

All forms of cardiovascular exercise burn calories and can thus help you lose weight. Running really gets things going though, and the heavier you are the more calories you’ll burn.

Excess body fat is implicated in a huge range of ailments, like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, osteoarthritis, and gall bladder disease. So, it makes sense that this is one more way running can help you avoid serious disease and live a longer, healthier life.

Running Improves Sleep

One study involving 50 people averaging 18 years of age, discovered that the group who exercised for 30 minutes a day for three weeks, five days a week, slept better. They also showed evidence of better psychological functioning and higher degrees of focus than the control group.

One can assume that the same would apply to people of any age, since better sleep automatically results in improved mood and increased focus.

Running Helps The Brain in Several Ways

While you’re asleep, your body has a chance to repair the ravages of the day, fight off looming infections, and reboot your mind for the day ahead. So, it makes sense that running can also help your brain in this way.

However, this type of exercise can also benefit your brain in other ways:

  • Running Can Combat Depression

It’s impossible to shake depression simply by ‘getting over it’. This severe brain disorder results from an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

All forms of exercise help get the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine flooding into the brain to help restore brain balance and get things back on an even keel.

So, the next time, you feel depression creeping up, head out for a run before it takes hold. There’s a lot of research to support the theory that regular exercise can lift your mood, and running is a lot safer than taking mind-altering anti-depressants.

  • Running Sharpens Your Mind and prevents Cognitive Decline

Research into Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia shows that running can protect your mind from declining as you age.

Aerobic exercise, including brisk walking, jogging, and running showed that children improved their memory and focus after performing these activities for a few weeks.

Studies involving young adults, had the same results, plus they increased their ability to switch tasks more efficiently.

In older adults, further studies showed that those who participated in regular exercise showed a 40% less chance of dying from Alzheimer’s Disease. The same study group also showed a marked improvement in working memory, task switching, and focus.

  • Running Can Help Your Brain Resist Stress

Numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise can help people cope with stress better.

Once again, this has to do with running’s ability to increase levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, which help the brain generate new neurons and develop resilience.

Running Can Help Joint Health

Knee pain is one of the most common ailments experienced by runners. However, studies show that running is rarely the sole cause of osteoarthritis in the knees.

In fact, people who run regularly, are less likely to suffer from this type of knee pain. That’s because running helps runners develop strong leg muscles, which can better support the knee joint.

Can Running Cause Any Harm?

There are so many benefits to running that it’s easy to forget that runners should always be on the lookout for any unusual aches and pains during and after a run that would indicate you are over training your body.

Yes, running can cause injury and strain, but there are always extenuating circumstances. A 2014 study shows that novice runners who increased their running activities by more than 30% in two weeks, were usually the ones who developed running-related injuries.

So, if you want to start running in order to enjoy all the above benefits, take it easy. It’s best to increase your activity levels by no more than 10% at a time and always listen to your body.

Some of the problems you can develop as a result of pushing yourself too hard include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Runner’s knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)
  • ITB Syndrome (Iliotibial Band Syndrome)
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures

Fortunately, rest, medication, and ice treatments work well to heal these problems, although it’s best to consult your doctor or a biokinetiscist if you experience any pain during or after running.

Wearing the correct running shoes, building your endurance gradually, and stretching properly before you get started, and while you cool down, can all help you avoid injury.

As a runner it’s also important to give yourself a break from running. Cross-train by incorporating weight and strength training to improve muscle mass and balance which can help take pressure off your joints.

Enjoy The Fit Life

With the right warm up When you’re sound in mind and body, you can enjoy so many more activities without experiencing stiffness or pain.

There are many ways to build yourself up with enjoyable exercises, so browse our blog for ideas and get living your best life.

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Running – Good or Bad for your health? | Robert Nienaber

Is Running Good for You?

When you look at the number of entrants in major marathons, and even the average fun run, it’s easy to see that a lot of people embrace running as a form of aerobic exercise. It’s also a common aspect of cross-training for other forms of sport, like rugby, swimming, soccer, cycling and even equestrian pursuits.

Some people thrive when they take up this type of exercise, others suffer injury after injury, so it makes sense to wonder, is running good for my fitness goals, or will it end in disaster.

These are the benefits and drawbacks of running as a form of exercise.

Running Boosts Cardiovascular Health

All aerobic activity, gets your blood pumping faster, helping to strengthen your cardiac muscles and improve your lung’s performance. The good news is that even a little bit of running can help keep these organs healthy and operating at their best.

Studies show that just five minutes of aerobic exertion can improve your cardiovascular fitness and help you avoid cardiovascular disease. The further you run, the better, as long as you don’t strain yourself beyond your level of fitness.

So, start slowly and work your way up to what works best for you.

Running Helps You Dodge Death

Apart from sidestepping heart attack and stroke, at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily can help you avoid a host of other things that can cause premature death.

Some studies have shown that exercise can even reduce your risk of contracting cancer.

For many people, running is the easiest and most convenient way to get their quota of exercise for the week. After all, almost everyone can run, and importantly, you can run anywhere.

Running Can Beat Obesity

All forms of cardiovascular exercise burn calories and can thus help you lose weight. Running really gets things going though, and the heavier you are the more calories you’ll burn.

Excess body fat is implicated in a huge range of ailments, like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, osteoarthritis, and gall bladder disease. So, it makes sense that this is one more way running can help you avoid serious disease and live a longer, healthier life.

Running Improves Sleep

One study involving 50 people averaging 18 years of age, discovered that the group who exercised for 30 minutes a day for three weeks, five days a week, slept better. They also showed evidence of better psychological functioning and higher degrees of focus than the control group.

One can assume that the same would apply to people of any age, since better sleep automatically results in improved mood and increased focus.

Running Helps The Brain in Several Ways

While you’re asleep, your body has a chance to repair the ravages of the day, fight off looming infections, and reboot your mind for the day ahead. So, it makes sense that running can also help your brain in this way.

However, this type of exercise can also benefit your brain in other ways:

  • Running Can Combat Depression

It’s impossible to shake depression simply by ‘getting over it’. This severe brain disorder results from an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

All forms of exercise help get the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine flooding into the brain to help restore brain balance and get things back on an even keel.

So, the next time, you feel depression creeping up, head out for a run before it takes hold. There’s a lot of research to support the theory that regular exercise can lift your mood, and running is a lot safer than taking mind-altering anti-depressants.

  • Running Sharpens Your Mind and prevents Cognitive Decline

Research into Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia shows that running can protect your mind from declining as you age.

Aerobic exercise, including brisk walking, jogging, and running showed that children improved their memory and focus after performing these activities for a few weeks.

Studies involving young adults, had the same results, plus they increased their ability to switch tasks more efficiently.

In older adults, further studies showed that those who participated in regular exercise showed a 40% less chance of dying from Alzheimer’s Disease. The same study group also showed a marked improvement in working memory, task switching, and focus.

  • Running Can Help Your Brain Resist Stress

Numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise can help people cope with stress better.

Once again, this has to do with running’s ability to increase levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, which help the brain generate new neurons and develop resilience.

Running Can Help Joint Health

Knee pain is one of the most common ailments experienced by runners. However, studies show that running is rarely the sole cause of osteoarthritis in the knees.

In fact, people who run regularly, are less likely to suffer from this type of knee pain. That’s because running helps runners develop strong leg muscles, which can better support the knee joint.

Can Running Cause Any Harm?

There are so many benefits to running that it’s easy to forget that runners should always be on the lookout for any unusual aches and pains during and after a run that would indicate you are over training your body.

Yes, running can cause injury and strain, but there are always extenuating circumstances. A 2014 study shows that novice runners who increased their running activities by more than 30% in two weeks, were usually the ones who developed running-related injuries.

So, if you want to start running in order to enjoy all the above benefits, take it easy. It’s best to increase your activity levels by no more than 10% at a time and always listen to your body.

Some of the problems you can develop as a result of pushing yourself too hard include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Runner’s knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)
  • ITB Syndrome (Iliotibial Band Syndrome)
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures

Fortunately, rest, medication, and ice treatments work well to heal these problems, although it’s best to consult your doctor or a biokinetiscist if you experience any pain during or after running.

Wearing the correct running shoes, building your endurance gradually, and stretching properly before you get started, and while you cool down, can all help you avoid injury.

As a runner it’s also important to give yourself a break from running. Cross-train by incorporating weight and strength training to improve muscle mass and balance which can help take pressure off your joints.

Enjoy The Fit Life

With the right warm up When you’re sound in mind and body, you can enjoy so many more activities without experiencing stiffness or pain.

There are many ways to build yourself up with enjoyable exercises, so browse our blog for ideas and get living your best life.

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