Love it or hate it, a good run can play an important role in your overall health. Here are our top 8 science-backed reasons to consider going for a run today.
1. Good for the Heart
The science is in, there is no denying running is good for the heart. The activity causes your arteries to expand and contract, keeping them elastic and allowing blood to flow smoothly. According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running – even just 5 minutes a day – can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. 5 minutes couldn’t hurt, right?
2. Improves Joint Health
Worried running may ruin your knees? Not so fast. A new study by Medicine & Science in Sports & Science showed runners were half as likely to suffer from knee osteoarthritis compared to walkers. By running moderately on a regular basis, the stress on your bones and cartilage causes them to spring back even stronger (much like muscles do after weightlifting)
3. Reduces Risk of Cancer
This a big one. The Journal of the American Medical Association found people who exercise regularly – including running – have a significantly lower risk of several kinds of cancer, including some of the scariest: colon, breast, endometrial and lung.
4. Sharpens Learning
It’s true! Regardless of intensity level, studies published in the Neurology of Learning and Memory have shown that running improves your capacity to learn and retain new information. Running creates an explosion of excitable neurons in the hippocampus, a portion of the brain that is involved in cognitive and emotional responses.
5. Alleviates Anxiety
Who says you can’t run away from your problems? Many studies have shown that running boosts the brain’s serotonin levels which in return makes you feel more calm and relaxed. Insert deep exhale
6. Regulates Sleep Cycle
Feeling fatigued? Although it may seem counter-intuitive, running can cause a disrupted sleep-wake cycle to return to a normal state by regulating your hormones and body temperature.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure
Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — by an average of 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). That’s as good as some blood pressure medications. For some people, getting some exercise is enough to reduce the need for blood pressure medication.
8. Reduces Irritability
Having a case of the Mondays? Go for a run! Physical exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones that are known to elevate your mood.