One ex­er­cise fixes all Need a rea­son to get you out the door to­day? Here are 10 of the best...

Trail Running (UK) - - Warm- Up | Column - DR AN­DREW MUR­RAY The sports and ex­er­cise medicine doc­tor, fundraiser and ath­lete gives his pre­scrip­tion for re­ward­ing run­ning Dr An­drew Mur­ray is an am­bas­sador for Mer­rell UK

Why do you run? When­ever I am asked that ques­tion I give a dif­fer­ent an­swer. There are so many rea­sons to run, all of which over­power a lack of time and the UK’s stan­dard side­ways rain to help get me out and hit­ting the trails.

Two of the biggest driv­ing forces for me are the chance to es­cape and think, away from the 100-mile-an-hour world of my fam­ily or work, and the things you see out on the trail. Be­ing a doc­tor, though, I’m keen for more peo­ple to take up run­ning, be­cause it is one of the best things you can do for your health.

TOP TEN HEALTH BEN­E­FITS OF TRAIL RUN­NING

From liv­ing longer to cheer­ing you up, trail run­ning has the an­swer to so many health prob­lems. For­get over-the-counter med­i­ca­tion; lace up your shoes in­stead.

1 RE­DUCES CHANCE OF EARLY DEATH

I thought I’d start with the one that makes my pa­tients re­ally sit up and lis­ten. Al­though you are a bit more likely to get blis­ters and ath­lete’s foot, run­ners have a 30% re­duc­tion in the risk of early death. Re­ports from the NHS in Scot­land and the Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cers of the UK re­veal that run­ning 75 min­utes a week gives you that level of pro­tec­tion from The Grim Reaper.

2 BOOSTS YOUR MOOD

Sci­ence has caught up with com­mon sense. The ev­i­dence is con­sis­tent and grow­ing that happy hor­mones are re­leased by run­ning, and that ex­er­cise in green space is even bet­ter than run­ning in the gym. In fact, in­creas­ingly doc­tors are ‘pre­scrib­ing’ ex­er­cise for low mood be­cause it can eas­ily be as ef­fec­tive as any tablet for mild to mod­er­ate de­pres­sion.

3 LOWERS YOUR STRESS LEV­ELS

Bad day at work? Kids wind­ing you up? Wor­ry­ing about bills? Go­ing for a run in Na­ture’s Gym is a pow­er­ful angst-buster, and can wind down the stress lev­els by a good few lev­els. Many of the al­ter­na­tives (raid­ing the cookie jar or drink­ing alcohol) just make you feel guilty the next day.

4 HELPS BOOST YOUR IM­MUNE SYS­TEM

If you have a fever, are vom­it­ing or are se­ri­ously un­well, then train­ing is not for you that day, but on a day-to-day ba­sis a sen­si­ble amount of run­ning makes it far less likely you’ll get coughs, colds, the flu and other bugs – par­tic­u­larly if you get some de­cent sleep, and plenty of fresh fruit and veg on board, too.

5 IM­PROVES THE QUAL­ITY OF YOUR SLEEP

This shows that ex­er­cise can get you into a vir­tu­ous cy­cle. Your sleep im­proves with run­ning, which im­proves your im­mune sys­tem and re­duces stress. As long as you don’t train in the last hour be­fore bed, ex­er­cise helps you get a great kip and saves you count­ing sheep.

6 STRENGTH­ENS MUS­CLES AND BONES

This will help you now and later in life. More than half of us will break a bone in our life, so keep­ing them strong is vi­tal.

7 KEEPS YOUR HEART HEALTHY

The heart is def­i­nitely worth keep­ing happy and healthy. Heart dis­ease is still the big show in town when it comes to death: over 40% of peo­ple in the UK die due to heart prob­lems. But get­ting the blood pump­ing helps im­prove body composition, choles­terol, blood pres­sure and all sorts of other things that keep your heart healthy.

8 RE­DUCES THE LIKELIHOOD OF YOU DE­VEL­OP­ING TYPE 2 DIABETES

The tsunami of type 2 diabetes means that many, many more peo­ple are get­ting the con­di­tion than when our par­ents were young. The risks (apart from the in­con­ve­nience hav­ing to take tablets or in­ject your­self with in­sulin) in­clude nerve, kid­ney, eye­sight and heart prob­lems.

9 GOOD FOR THE BRAIN LONG TERM

One third of peo­ple will get de­men­tia. How­ever, you can de­lay that or even avoid it by hit­ting the trails. And more pos­i­tively, run­ning in­creases pro­duc­tiv­ity and men­tal well-be­ing mean­ing you are more likely to get that pro­mo­tion, and then en­joy a long and happy re­tire­ment!

10 KEEPS THE WEIGHT OFF

No mat­ter how hard you try, you just can’t outrun a bad diet. The amount of run­ning you have to do to burn a litre of cola is as­tro­nom­i­cal, but run­ning helps us in our bid to keep slim, and most of us are keen to avoid the mid­dle-age spread!

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