Both running and jogging are natural activities. Nature makes you stand up, and then it’s normal for you to run, walk, or jog as your growth makes you develop and mature. However, there are a few things to consider. Is hitting at your local gym natural or man-made? Is it nature’s call to go for those bulging biceps and triceps or those eye-popping six- or eight-pack abs?
“No” is the obvious response. This is a man-made decision based on your own whims and fantasies. When you work out with the goal of getting a body like one from another planet, things can sometimes go horribly wrong. But these are obviously dangerous, and research shows that the death rate has been steadily going up because people are doing too much gym work that is neither necessary nor, to some extent, natural.
Having said this, it does not imply that we dislike the gym. We are gym enthusiasts. We enjoy strength training with free weights and exercise equipment. And there are numerous reasons why you should do it, whether your goal is to build muscle, lose fat and calories, or improve your overall health. But the benefits of running or walking are much more long-lasting and convincing, so any man should think about starting to run.
From the aesthetic benefits to the mental advantages, there is a reason why so many individuals are addicted to running. While we’re not suggesting you give up the gym, we do recommend you consider taking up running as well. Running, walking, and jogging bring you closer to nature by letting you breathe in lots of fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun. Go and live the organic way of life.
When you become a runner, your life is altered. However, you may be unaware of how much it enhances every aspect. Here’s proof of the incredible benefits running can provide:
Running adds years to your life.
Numerous studies indicate that running extends your life expectancy. This has led to the oft-repeated remark, “If exercise were a pill, it would be the world’s most popular pill.” Notable: it would also be the cheapest option, with minimal to no cost.
A 2021 review of research on running and longevity found that runners have a 25–30% lower death rate from all causes than people who don’t run. It concluded that any amount of running, even once per week, is preferable to none.
Another runner-specific study demonstrated that runners gain approximately three years of life. Why? Some of the biological pathways are better heart health; better body composition (less fat); less cholesterol; better control of glucose and insulin; stronger bones; better hormone regulation; and better brain function.
However, few of us simply desire to live longer. Instead, we wish for a long, fruitful, healthy, and active life. This is where running and physical fitness excel. Due to the fact that “seniors” consume a significant portion of the public health budget with their late-life illnesses, a great deal of research focuses on what can be done to keep them healthy. Exercise almost always wins this contest.
Recent research at Ball State University found, for example, that a group of 75-year-olds who had been running and biking for 50 years had biological profiles that were more like those of 25-year-old graduate students than those of their 75-year-old peers who didn’t exercise.
In a second well-known study, researchers at Stanford compared local runners in their mid-50s to Stanford residents who didn’t exercise, but both groups got the same high-quality medical care. After twenty-one years, the death rate among runners had decreased by more than fifty percent. Unexpectedly, runners reached particular “disability scores” 11 to 16 years later than non-runners. In other words, they remained younger for a longer period of time. And as the age of the people studied went up, so did the benefits seen in runners.
Running is a better choice for your knees and back.
This is one recurring advantage that many individuals find hard to believe. They believe that because running is an impact sport, it must be detrimental to the joints. In addition, everyone is familiar with a few runners who developed knee pain and had to switch to cycling. True, but sedentary, out-of-shape adults have worse knee and back problems on average than the majority of runners.
Looking for evidence? Okay, reasonable. This study looked at 675 marathon runners and compared them to 675 people who didn’t run marathons. The researchers found that the number of active marathoners with arthritis was lower in their group than in the general U.S. population. Even ultramarathoners appear to fare well. When researchers looked at the knees of runners who had just finished a multi-day, 2700-mile run across Europe, they found that “the extreme running load does not appear to have a significant negative effect on the femoropatellar joint tissues.”
In a study of 44 people who ran their first marathon, 17 men and 27 women, researchers found that the bone marrow and articular cartilage in the knees of first-time marathon runners got better for at least six months after the marathon. The same applies to the lower back. In a 2020 report called “Long-term running in middle-aged men and intervertebral disc health: a cross-sectional pilot study,” researchers looked at how far apart the discs were in runners who had been running for a long time and in people who had never run.
The height of their lumbar intervertebral discs (IVDs) goes down less with age in middle-aged long-term endurance runners. And the longer the subjects ran, the better their disc spacing appeared. The same applies to weekly mileage. More running was better.
Running helps you sleep better.
If you haven’t seen numerous articles about the significance of sleep in the past few years, you’ve been, well, sleeping under a rock. And sleep may be particularly crucial for athletes. After all, it is during this time that the body repairs itself. Christie Aschwanden, a science writer, says in her book Good to Go about sports recovery that sleep is one of the few “recovery techniques” that is backed up by solid evidence.
According to Johns Hopkins experts, “We have solid evidence that exercise helps you fall asleep faster and improves the quality of your sleep.” According to a study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Exercise, working out and sleeping go hand in hand. The more you exercise, the more quality sleep you require. In addition, the worse your sleep habits, the less likely you are to regularly exercise.
Runners used to be told that going for a run in the evening would keep them from sleeping that night. A 2018 meta-analysis of 23 studies on the topic, however, produced the opposite conclusion. Except for intense interval training performed within an hour of bedtime (don’t do it! ), evening exercise improved falling asleep and the quality of sleep.
Running allows you to lose weight and keep it off.
Running burns more calories than most other activities because it involves the constant movement of the entire body. And you do not need to run quickly to achieve maximum fat burn. Almost as much can be gained by running slowly (but it takes twice as long).
According to an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2019, the adage “you can’t outrun a bad diet” is, at best, only partially accurate. “It is indisputable that exercise can and does result in weight loss,” the authors write. In addition, it has “a multitude of other positive health effects.” If you want to keep track, approximately 100 calories are burned per mile when running. (For more accuracy, multiply. 75 x your body weight in pounds will give you your individual calorie burn per mile.)
Weight loss is not difficult, but maintaining a healthy weight is incredibly challenging. Multiple studies have demonstrated that significant weight loss is possible in about six months. Unfortunately, the weight soon returns. After another six to 18 months, the hair typically returns in full and sometimes even more. Everyone has heard of “yo-yo diets”; this is the same thing.
People who stick to a long-term exercise plan are the only ones we know of who beat the odds. One program, the National Weight Control Registry, has kept track of these people who have lost weight and kept it off. The NWCR is monitoring a large group of individuals who have lost an average of 66 pounds and have maintained their weight loss for 5.5 years. Ninety percent of them exercise an hour per day, on average. 98 percent of individuals have modified their diet in some way.
The authors of a 2018 study titled “The Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Weight Loss and Maintenance” found that those who exercise 200 to 300 minutes per week maintain their weight better than those who exercise less than 150 minutes per week. Lower body weight appears to “substantially improve” health-related quality of life. However, achieving this goal requires effort and consistency.
Running improves your immune system.
David Nieman is a scientist who studies exercise and has run 58 marathons. He has spent the last 40 years studying the link between exercise and immunity. Aside from looking at how runners’ diets affect their immune systems, he has found mostly good news and a few things to watch out for. His overview: Your immunity goes up when you work out moderately, but it can go down (at least until you’re fully recovered) when you work out for a long time. Dark-colored fruits and vegetables help your body stay strong and healthy.
In an article that came out in 2019, Nieman and Laurel M. Wentz wrote a summary of “The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense.” In addition to giving advice on intensity levels and diet, they show that running can improve the body’s ability to detect diseases, reduce inflammation, change the makeup of the gut microbiota, lower the risk of upper respiratory infections and influenza, and improve the immune response.
Nieman suggests a J-curve to show that regular exercise is good, but too much exercise can temporarily make the immune system less effective. Numerous additional health researchers have confirmed this pattern. The authors of the textbook Muscle and Exercise Physiology state, “It is generally accepted that moderate exercise improves immune system functions and reduces infection risk.”
Running enhances cognitive function
A recent study states that running enhances cognitive function and prevents cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. This is the most recent and unexpected of running’s health benefits, but it makes perfect sense. Running increases the heart rate and circulation. This includes pushing oxygen-rich blood to the brain. It is difficult to imagine this not being a very good thing.
A meta-analysis suggests that running may be good for your brain health because it makes your brain release BDNF. This protein promotes the survival and expansion of neurons in the brain. Another study found that being physically fit makes the brain bigger, including the gray matter. Even if you begin running in middle age or later, you gain protection against the brain plaques associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the unexpected advantages of exercise is that it can have direct short- and long-term effects on the brain. A study done at the University of British Columbia in 2021 found that regular aerobic exercise, like spinning or running, can make the hippocampus bigger. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is in charge of verbal memory and learning, which is a good thing. Running may stimulate the growth of new brain tissue in addition to maintaining the health of your existing gray matter.
Researchers at the University of Maryland in the United States say that exercise encourages the growth of new nerve cells and blood vessels, which together increase the volume of brain tissue. After the age of twenty-five, we begin to lose brain tissue, according to scientific research.
Specifically, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, regular exercisers increased the size of their hippocampus – the portion of the brain associated with learning and memory – by 2%, compared to their less active peers. It was previously believed that this region of the adult brain could not grow.
Running reduces the risk of numerous cancers.
In 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a very interesting “original investigation” about the exercise habits of 1.44 million American and European adults and how often they got cancer. The authors came to the conclusion that high-fitness exercisers, like runners, were less likely to get 26 types of cancer than low-fitness exercisers and people who didn’t work out at all. The benefits could not be attributed to nonsmoking or a low body mass index, two known cancer-protective factors. There was something unique about exercise that reduced the risk of cancer.
Many other researchers have reached comparable conclusions. Additionally, running is beneficial if you, unfortunately, develop cancer. In this case, regular exercise helps with both the physical and emotional side effects of treatment. It also reduces cancer-related mortality and the likelihood of developing another type of cancer.
Running reduces one’s blood pressure.
In 2016, the Global Burden of Disease, a global health index, released the results of its study of 388 different health risks and how they affect people’s health. High blood pressure was found to be, by a large margin, the biggest risk. (More so than smoking cigarettes.)
Running and other moderate forms of exercise have been shown to reduce blood pressure without the use of medication. A 2019 meta-analysis of 391 randomized controlled trials showed that “all studied exercise interventions” led to “small but consistent reductions in SBP.” The effect of exercise on lowering systolic blood pressure in people with high blood pressure “appears to be similar to that of commonly used medications,” says the same study. In a study published the year before in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, aerobic and strength training were shown to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by a lot.
What type of running is likely to lower blood pressure the most? It was once believed that steady, continuous exercise was the most effective. However, newer research contradicts this conclusion. This 2019 meta-analysis supports interval training with a higher intensity for lowering blood pressure.
Running enhances mental health and alleviates depression.
Numerous runners participate in the sport to enhance their physical fitness. After a short time, these new runners frequently provide a different response to the question, “Why do you run?” This response: “Because it improves my mood.” They are discussing emotions, mood, mental energy, fewer depressive days, and similar topics.
The evidence supporting this effect is conclusive. A 2016 meta-analysis of exercise and depression came to the following conclusions, among other good things: 1) Physical activity is “an effective treatment” for depression. 2) Physical activity is just as effective as psychotherapy and prescription drugs. 3) Physical activity “may serve as an alternative” too expensive and often hard-to-schedule medical treatments.
In 2019, the American Psychological Association published a handbook called Sport and Exercise Psychology. In one chapter, it says, “There is a lot of evidence that exercise can help treat mental disorders, especially depression.” Even though this seems like good news, it doesn’t mean that running and other forms of physical activity are the only way to deal with depression. Depression is a serious, pervasive illness that requires a comprehensive array of medical treatments.
Running improves glucose regulation and reduces the risk of developing diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Diabetes is often caused by high blood glucose levels, which are a major “side effect” of the obesity and overweight epidemic in the West. Also, they could shorten people’s healthy lives and put too much stress on the public health system (so many people, very high cost).
Running and other vigorous exercises can significantly ameliorate this bleak outlook. The American Diabetes Association says that exercise can 1) prevent or lessen lifestyle-related Type 2 diabetes and 2) help people with Type 1 diabetes, which is mostly caused by genes. It can also prevent pre-diabetic individuals from developing Type 2 diabetes.
Late in 2019, the most recent report on runners and diabetes risk was published. The study followed over 19,000 adults for over six years and compared the incidence of diabetes among runners and non-runners. Runners had a 72 percent lower incidence of developing diabetes. The researchers came to the conclusion that adults who run for fun have a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes.
Running increases one’s self-esteem.
And with that, you can accomplish virtually anything. This benefit of running has not been studied a lot, so we don’t have a lot of studies to back it up. A study of diabetes patients found that regular aerobic exercise is a big part of feeling better about yourself.
However, there is Oprah Winfrey. Oprah decided in the early 1990s that she would do something special for herself in the year of her 40th birthday: she would get in shape and complete a marathon. Even though she used to be overweight and didn’t work out, she reached her goal in the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon and finished in a respectable 4:29. Afterward, she remarked, “Life is comparable to a marathon.” “If you can complete a marathon, you can accomplish anything.”
In addition, we’ve heard tens of thousands of stories from runners about how running taught them an important life lesson: Take one step at a time, just one, and you can get where you want to go—in a marathon, in pursuit of your educational goals, in launching a new business, in recovering from loss and illness, etc.
We are not suggesting that running is simple, or that life is simple. Both are false. But running is quantifiable; we count the miles and minutes; we can see where we began our journey and how far we’ve traveled. This teaches a simple truth: effort yields results, while inactivity yields nothing. The exertion is worthwhile.
Disclaimer: The author’s views are his or her own. The facts and opinions in the article have been taken from various articles and commentaries available in the online media and Eastside Writers does not take any responsibility or obligation for them.
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