11 Best Healthy Reasons to Run!

What are the benefits of running?

Did you know there are many advantages to running and that all of them are backed by science?

Research proves that exercise — at least 150 minutes per week according to the Department of Health and Human Services — has major benefits to both health and quality of life. Studies have shown that regular exercise like running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, and many other medical conditions.

Scientists have shown that running also improves the quality of your emotional and mental health. Running affects everyone’s mood for the better; but for some people, the miles are key to managing depression and anxiety.

Running is good for you because it offers a multitude of benefits for both the body and mind—including everything from heart health to reduced stress.

Health Benefits of Running

What are the health benefits of running?

1. Running increases longevity

Many studies have shown the life-extending benefits of aerobic exercise like running. Researchers have found that running helps maintain optimal health.

A review of multiple studies in The British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that increased participation in running, regardless of dose (time spent running), led to substantial improvement in population health and longevity. Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than not running at all.

2. Running improves cardiovascular health

Running is one of the best exercises for cardiovascular fitness. People who run for at least 10 minutes a day have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Running also lowers your resting heart rate — the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest. Resting heart rate is an important indicator of overall health and fitness.

In a study of 55,000 people, researchers at Iowa State University found that running three times a week for an average of 17 minutes at a time, reduced the risk of fatal heart attack or stroke by 55%.

Health Benefits of Running

3. Running improves markers of health

Studies have shown that consistent running lowers blood pressure, improves blood sugar control, lowers triglycerides and cholesterol, and reduces waist circumference and body fat percentage. Improving these markers of health can reduce disease risk and keep you healthy

Running has been shown to improve “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) and lower “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL). It’s also an important factor in maintaining blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. An activity like running, passively allows glucose (sugar) into the cells, reducing the body’s need for insulin. Running, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can improve glucose regulation. However, the management of exercise plans and activity are highly individualized.

4. Running reduces cancer risk

Being physically active reduces the risk of developing several commonly occurring cancers. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of eight cancers:

  • Bladder
  • Breast
  • Colon
  • Endometrium (inner lining layer of the uterus)
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney
  • Lung
  • Stomach

5. Running is good for your joints

Whether running causes osteoarthritis (irreversible erosion of cartilage) has been the focus of extensive research over the last decade.

Multiple studies have actually shown that runners are less likely to have osteoarthritis than non-runners. Some researchers believe that running conditions the cartilage to be more resilient. 

A study of 675 marathon runners found they had a lower rate of arthritis when compared to other people. The runners’ knees and backs were both positively affected; the more you run, the lower the occurrence of back problems as you age.

Strong muscles built by running and strength training support joints, so they are less vulnerable to injury.

6. Running is good for your bones

Regular running helps to improve and maintain bone density and strength, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass).

Tendons, ligaments, and bones adapt to the high impact of running by building resilience. Bone strength is important because, during menopause, hormone shifts cause bone density to decline, increasing the chance of bone weakening and fractures.

7. Running increases sleep quality

Quality sleep is essential for optimal health. The body repairs itself when you’re asleep, which is why you feel refreshed upon awakening. Moderate to vigorous exercise has been shown to increase sleep quality by decreasing how long it takes to fall asleep.

But try to avoid running late in the day as this can interfere with how well you sleep. Running triggers the release of endorphins (chemicals that relieve pain or stress) in the brain; endorphins activate the brain and may keep you awake.

8. Running boosts the immune system

If you start to feel a cold coming on, running for 30 minutes can strengthen the immune system and help you feel better. Running five days a week lowers the odds of upper respiratory tract infections by 43%.

9. Running burns calories

Running is a metabolically demanding exercise that burns a lot of calories. It is one of the most efficient types of exercise when it comes to the number of calories burned per minute. So, if weight loss is the goal, running can contribute to the calorie deficit needed to burn fat. 

Health Benefits of Running

10. Endorphins

Running is good for your mental health. And no doubt you’ve heard about “runner’s high” — the relaxing feeling experienced after a good run. The experience is usually attributed to the burst of endorphins released during exercise.

When you run, your body goes through a transition: breathing becomes heavy, the pulse quickens, and the heart pumps harder to move oxygenated blood to your muscles and brain. As you hit your stride, your body releases hormones called endorphins.

Endorphins help prevent muscles from feeling pain, but it is actually unlikely they contribute to a euphoric feeling or any change in mood at all. Research shows that endorphins do not pass the blood-brain barrier and many distance runners actually feel drained or even nauseated at the end of a long run, not blissful.

11. Endocannabinoids

The relaxed feeling after a run may be due to endocannabinoids — naturally produced biochemical substances similar to cannabis. Exercise increases the levels of endocannabinoids in the bloodstream.

Unlike endorphins, endocannabinoids can move easily through the blood-brain barrier. They improve mood and promote a short-term, drug-like effect as they reduce anxiety and elicit a feeling of calm.

Endocannabinoids spark the growth of new blood vessels to nourish the brain. Running and other forms of exercise may also produce new brain cells, which may lead to an overall improvement in brain performance and prevent cognitive decline.

Running has an anti-depressant effect that blunts the brain’s response to physical and emotional stress. The hippocampus (the part of the brain associated with memory and learning) has been found to increase volume in runners and those who exercise.

A review of the research published in Clinical Psychology Review shows that “exercise recruits a process which confers enduring resilience to stress.” This may occur because running produces the same two changes that are thought to be responsible for the effectiveness of anti-depressants: increased levels of the two important neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, and neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons).

Other mental health benefits of running include:

  • Improved working memory and focus
  • Better task-switching ability
  • Changes in thinking (decreased ruminations)

Making running a part of your daily routine may be the single best thing you can do to slow the cognitive decline that accompanies normal aging.

Before starting your new running routine, speak with your healthcare provider for individualized guidance about participating in high-impact cardio. Medical advice concerning the risk of injury should guide your running plan.

How does a beginner start running?

Step one is a good pair of running shoes — investing in running shoes is an investment in your health. The wrong pair of shoes can cause aches and pains and possibly an injury that keeps you sidelined.

Joining a running club or group with a running program will surround you with experienced runners to guide your process. It will also keep you accountable and consistent — and you may even make a few friends in the process.

A diet that’s high in carbohydrates provides the energy needed for running. Running is a metabolically demanding sport and refueling is important. Carbohydrates fuel the body with glycogen, which is stored in your muscles.

Runners should get between 50% and 70% of their calories from carbohydrates. Healthy choices include:

  • Whole grains
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Milk
  • Legumes
  • Starchy vegetables

Make sure protein is on the menu, too, to build and maintain muscle strength.

Why choose University Foot and Ankle Institute for your foot and ankle care?

Whether you need to find proper footwear, treat an injury, or get advice on proper foot care, we’re here to help. Our podiatrists offer the most advanced podiatry care and the highest success rates in the nation. We are nationally recognized foot and ankle specialists and leaders in researching, diagnosing, and treating all foot and ankle conditions and common injuries.

For a free consultation please call (877) 736-6001 or make an appointment online now.

Our podiatrists take patients’ safety seriously. Our podiatry facility’s Covid-19 patient safety procedures exceed all the CDC’s coronavirus pandemic recommendations. Masks are always required in our institutes.

University Foot and Ankle Institute is conveniently located throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. Our foot doctors are available at locations in or near Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Northridge, Downtown Los Angeles, Westlake Village, Granada Hills, and Valencia.

Latest posts by Dr. Hamed Jafary, DPM (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

17,066 Total 1st Party Reviews / 4.9 out of 5 Stars
  • Google
    I love these guys. They do an amazing job and are the best. Quick appointments, very professional and, most important, they a...
    Jasmin T.
  • GatherUp
    I always have a good experience with my doctor
    Shaheen H.
  • GatherUp
    Dr Kelman is great. Explains everything and provides good treatments.
    Katherine S.
  • GatherUp
    I had a great experience 2x with Dr Nalbandian. She was very caring and thoughtful and took the time to answer all my questions...
    Kristina K.
  • GatherUp
    Good care.
    Sandra V.
  • Google
    Dr. Redkar treated my ingrown toenail expertly and sympathetically. I had a lot of questions, and she took the time to answer ...
    Susan M.
  • GatherUp
    It's strange to say about medical appointments, but I always find a visit to your Westlake office to be uplifting. The office ...
    Ronald S.
  • GatherUp
    Always receive excellent treatment.
    George K.
  • GatherUp
    I'm frustrated as the orthotics that were made for me were made very poorly and had to be sent back after only wearing for a co...
    Priscilla L.
  • GatherUp
    Very positive
    Polly G.
  • Google
    Everyone was fantastic!! From the front desk.. to the doctor.. and beyond. I highly recommend this place to everyone.
    Sesly E.
  • GatherUp
    Always very pleasant.
    Curtis B.
Same Day Appointments
Now Available!

Or call 877-989-9110

24 hours a day, 7 days a week