Why should you run?

Runner's World (UK) - - New Runners -

If you’ve never run a step, you may won­der if you should try. The an­swer, for so many rea­sons, is yes Run­ning de­liv­ers myr­iad health ben­e­fits for body and mind. These are too nu­mer­ous to cover in full here, but let’s give you a taste: in a study of 55,000 peo­ple, US re­searchers at Iowa State Univer­sity found run­ning three times a week for an aver­age of just 17 min­utes each time re­duced the risk of fa­tal heart at­tack or stroke by 55 per cent.

Three weekly aer­o­bic ex­er­cise ses­sions also im­proved glu­cose con­trol in a Univer­sity of Ot­tawa study, while re­search from the Univer­sity of Costa Rica found run­ning low­ered blood pres­sure more ef­fec­tively than cy­cling.

Stud­ies have also shown run­ning can help you feel calmer, hap­pier and more re­sis­tant to stress. Pol­ish re­searchers found 15-30 min­utes of run­ning three times a week re­duced anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, and im­proved mood. There is also a a wealth of re­search that shows in the long term it can com­bat – or even re­verse – cog­ni­tive de­cline.

If run­ning is begin­ning to sound like a mir­a­cle drug, that’s be­cause it is. Those reg­u­larly lac­ing up their train­ers have a far lower risk of type 2 di­a­betes as well as many can­cers, in­clud­ing breast, colon and lung. And con­trary to the oft-re­peated con­tention, it won’t wreck your knees. Far from it: re­search from Stan­ford Univer­sity, US, shows recre­ational run­ners ac­tu­ally show less wear and tear on their joints. The weight-bear­ing na­ture of run­ning also helps to safe­guard bone den­sity, re­duc­ing your risk of os­teo­poro­sis. Re­search in the jour­nal Os­teo­poro­sis In­ter­na­tional found older run­ners had higher bone min­eral den­sity than seden­tary peo­ple and swim­mers of the same age.

Then there’s the dra­matic ef­fect run­ning has on your waist­line. Any in­crease in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity aids weight loss, but run­ning tops the calo­rie-burn­ing charts. A 66kg woman, for ex­am­ple, will burn twice as many calo­ries by run­ning at a 10-minute-mile pace com­pared with walk­ing at a 15-minute-mile pace for the same time.

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