Updated: Feb 10
Writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic the mental health benefits of running seem to be amplified by the fact that a lot of us are only allowed out of the house for essential reasons, including exercise. Running is something you can do on your own, outdoors with no expensive equipment necessary.
The physical benefits of running are plentiful. It is great if you want to lose weight. Running will burn almost double the number of calories as walking and is great for toning the body too. You may feel you can’t run continuously for a set period of time, but you can always build up to a continuous run by running for a period, walk for a bit then run again. There are no set rules. Running also helps maintain bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Research in the Osteoporosis International Journal found older runners had higher bone mineral density than sedentary people and swimmers of the same age.
It has also shown to improve cardiovascular health, reducing the chance of heart attack or stroke, lowering blood pressure.
Studies have also shown it helps with glucose control, digestive issues and reduces the risk of certain cancers.
Give it a try, your body will thank you for it!
People claim to feel a runner’s high – you will know what that is when you try it. It is a great feeling and running reduces the feelings of stress. Whether you are stressed from your work life, family issues, relationships, or financial worries, it’s great to just lace up those trainers, head out on your own and forget about the stresses of everyday life for a while. Pick a route that takes in some scenery or nature, like a park or forest trail for added benefits.
If running on your own is not for you, you can always ask a friend or colleague to join you. It may be a chance for a catch up whereby you normally wouldn’t get the chance due to other commitments.
Running clubs are great for meeting new friends. Have a look online for one in your area. Not only will you meet new people but there will also be people there who can help you on your running journey.
#Parkrun is another great source of motivation and social interaction. Held weekly in parks around the UK (around the world actually) Parkrun is an organisation which holds free to enter 5k runs every Saturday morning and a lot have a social gathering (if you wish, there’s no obligation) after each run such as a coffee gathering. They are a great way to start your weekend and can be a great way to meet new people. Further information can be found at www.parkrun.org.uk
Working Towards A Goal
Many people need something to work towards. Running can give you that. Beginners could use the Couch to 5k app. It does what it says, gets you from the couch (doing nothing) to running a 5k within 9 weeks. From there you can build on that if you wish to a 10k, Half Marathon or even a Marathon. Once you’ve got the bug you won’t want to stop.
Run For A Charity
Once you have got some training under your belt you may want to put your newfound hobby to good use by running for a charity. Find one that matters to you and it will give you that extra motivation you may need to reach your next distance goal.
These are just some of the benefits of taking up running. Even if just one or two of these resonate with you it is worth giving it a try – your mind, body and soul will thank you for it!