If you’ve decided that you want to take charge of your life and your health, allow me to suggest that you do one thing: go for a run.
This advice single-handedly helped me change my life and, in the process, my health. I think it can do the same for you, too.
Running and your health is a fantastic combination. In many ways, running is an excellent metaphor for life, and I think this becomes obvious when you begin running regularly. You needn’t run marathons to gain benefits from running — though obviously, if you’d like to run and train for marathons, go ahead! — because even just a handful of minutes or hours each day will help you reap the rewards from running.
Below, I’ll talk about some of the ways that running is advantageous to your health, making running and your health a great combination. These ways include:
Running is an excellent, all-body exercise. We all know that we need to mind our diet and move our bodies regularly in order to achieve optimal health, and running is one of the best exercises out there. It involves virtually every muscle in your body, and luckily for us, it’s something that we all inherently know how to do. Soon after we all began walking as toddlers, we began running. If you watch small children play, you’ll notice that kids don’t casually saunter from place to place when they’re in motion; instead, they practically sprint! as fast as they possibly can to get from point a to point b. You can run miles and miles on end, or you can simply do short sprints during an interval workout. The nice thing about running is that you have a ton of latitude to decide what you want to do, based on the goals that you’d like to achieve, so the sky’s really the limit.
Running can help you clean up your diet. Typically, when people begin exercising, whether they realize it or not, they often end up making better dietary choices more often than not. You may be used to eating fast food five nights a week, for example, but if you begin exercising, you’ll become more cognizant of the work that you’re putting in when you’re exercising, and you may find that you’ll be gravitating toward healthier choices more often than you usually would. This isn’t to say that you’re only going to choose salads for the rest of your days because obviously, sometimes a burger or ice cream really hits the spot; instead, I’m simply saying that running as part of your regular exercise program can help you make better choices more frequently simply because your body will likely begin to crave the healthier food choices.
Running will help you sleep better at night. People who regularly exercise and who regularly run say that they sleep well at night, and it’s with good reason. Your body needs to have ample sleep and rest opportunities so it can metabolize the work that you put it through during your morning workout, and realistically, your body actually becomes stronger when you’re resting than in the throes of a hard run. Getting ample sleep is linked to tons of positive health outcomes, and running can help ensure that you get a good night’s shuteye daily because, if for no other reason, you’re going to feel tired as you get stronger and become more able to handle additional miles or intervals.
Running will help your digestive health. Running often helps people have more regular bowel movements due to its nature and the impact — literally and figuratively — it has on the digestive system. Many people often complain about problems related to poor digestion, like constipation, and running can help obviate that.
Running can help with your stress levels and in effect, relax you. Many of us lead very busy and stressful lives, and many of us complain that we don’t have enough time to take care of ourselves. Running is an avenue through which we can take care of ourselves, becoming stronger, fitter, and faster in the process, and running can also do a number for our stress. Many runners talk about getting a “runner’s high” from their runs — a high-like feeling that they’d get from drugs — and while not every runner gets this so-called high, most runners do attest that they feel like running does a number for their stress each day. It’s during many people’s runs that they work through challenging work or personal dilemmas, brainstorm solutions to problems, and take time to revel in silence, essentially meditating. If you’re new to running, you may be very surprised at all the emotions that running invokes in you; it’s a pretty indescribable feeling.
Running can do a number for your self image. Finally, running can do a number for your mental health and in particular, for your self image. Many people complain about their appearance, but when they begin running, they begin to see themselves in a different light. While they may have bemoaned their “big legs” before, they now see them as powerful pillars of strength that enable them to go places they’ve never been before. People who have suffered through horrible tragedies have found tons of strength and resilience through running, and many have said that running has helped them navigate the hell of depression or addiction, too. While running can’t replace therapy with a licensed mental health practitioner, it can still do a number for people’s mental health and self image.
Clearly, there is something to be said for the many ways in which running can improve a person’s health. It’s not a panacea to the world’s problems, for sure, but it can do a lot for individuals. If you’re interested in running, luckily, all you need is a good pair of shoes and the ambition to do it! Get out there today, go change your life, and go for a run. You’ll be amazed at where your feet take you.
About The Author: Jane Grates
I love to hike. Music lover and a food addict. Working to craft experiences both online and in real life. I prefer clear logic to decoration.
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Also published on Medium.