For self-confessed run addicts like myself, running is like a food that nourishes our bodies and souls. It is something we can’t live without. But if you’re just starting out, the thought of slogging through miles on the road, trail, or treadmill may not be too appetizing.
To whet your appetite for running, here are 10 reasons you need to start running, NOW.
- You’ve been sitting there way too long.
The human body was designed to move, not to stay stationary for long periods of time. On average, people spend 9 to 10 hours sedentary, which is associated with increased risk for numerous illnesses. Sitting for 6 or more hours daily can raise your risk of dying from cancer and other major diseases, even if you’re at a healthy weight and don’t smoke, according to a review of data from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II.
According to research presented at the British Journal of Sports Medicine’s Active Working Summit in 2015, people that sit the most have a 112% increase in the relative risk of diabetes and a 147% increase in relative risk of cardiovascular events, versus people that sit the least. Risk for anxiety and depression is significantly higher in those who sit more, while increased activity shows better subjective mental health and vitality.
Simply put, you need to get off your chair anyway. Why not go for a run?
- You can definitely afford it
The price of entry to the sport of running can be as low as the price of a pair of running shoes. You can wear any comfortable clothing you already own, but the shoe is where the rubber literally meets the road. Lace up and you’ll be ready to run anywhere there is a path, paved or not.
- You can run anywhere and anytime, and that includes now
Not many sports can be done at the drop of a hat anywhere you are: cycling demands a bike, swimming requires a body of water, tennis needs a court, racquet, and balls. Running simply requires shoes.
Runners have also shown a knack for being able to run in rain, snow, or heat. And treadmills may be used if the weather demands you stay indoors.
No matter where I go in the world, whether I’m working or on holiday, I always bring my running shoes — or I end up regretting not bringing my running shoes because I can always find time to squeeze in a short run.
- It’s the best way to explore new places, or experience an old place in a different way
When you’re locked away in a car traveling from point-to-point, many times you tune out until you reach your destination. When you’re running, the journey is part of the destination! You see so much more detail on foot, and your senses are fully engaged.
You’ll also be able to go where vehicles may not be able to pass; a run on riverside paths or up a trail into the hills allows you to enjoy an escape into nature even in the midst of a city.
I love running because it’s always an adventure. Even if it’s the same old road I run week after week, my body and mental state are different. Running not only takes me on an external journey, but an internal one as well.
- You’ll look better
Running is one of the top ways to burn calories, and if you’re looking to lose a few (or many) pounds, there aren’t many ways of burning calories at the same high rate that running does. According to Runners’ World, running burns twice as many calories as you would when walking the same distance.
Running also changes the appearance of your lower body, so if you’re looking to shape your butt, tone your quads and hamstrings, and get nicely-developed calves, this is the sport for you!
- You will feel and function so much better
Runners chase “The Runner’s High” caused by continuous exercise. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, or brain chemicals that are natural pain and stress relievers. They act in similar ways to drugs like morphine and opium, creating feelings of euphoria, well-being, and relaxation without the dangerous cycle of drug addiction and dependence that those drugs cause.
Because the quality of sleep affects mood and vice versa, the way regular exercise improves your mood and helps you sleep better is a great reason to take it up. According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, regular exercisers reported better sleep quality than non-exercisers. Non-exercisers who added even just 10 minutes of physical activity reported improvement in their sleep.
Exercise also stimulates an increase in energy levels: sedentary people engaged in a regular exercise program reported feeling less fatigued compared to those who did not exercise. This allows for higher quality of life because you’ll be able to do more and enjoy what you’re doing more. Being physically active is also linked to preventing memory decline so you can stay sharp even as you age.
Lastly, because running helps build stamina or endurance for other activities, you’ll be able to accomplish other things that require physicality, whether it’s hiking up a mountain or lasting longer in bed. Speaking of which…
- It will improve your sex life
According to Runner’s World, regular exercise boosts libido by reducing stress, which negatively affects sex drive. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that its female subjects were in an “increased state of readiness for sexual activity” after 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. Men receive a similar boost when regular exercise lasting 20 to 30 minutes three to five times a week raise their testosterone levels, increasing sexual desire and confidence.
This isn’t limited by age: studies from Harvard University measured increase in sexual desire after regular exercise in college students and in those aged 40 to 60 years. In both groups, the more physically active subjects also reported higher incidence of sexual activity.
As you become more physically fit, your confidence about your physical appearance rises as well, which contributes to confidence between the sheets.
- Your bones will get stronger
Weak bones especially in older people predispose them to fractures that ultimately reduce mobility and quality of life. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three factors to keeping your bones healthy: adequate amounts of calcium, adequate amounts of vitamin D, and regular exercise. Running outdoors in the sunshine takes care of two of these factors as it allows you to absorb vitamin D and is a weight-bearing exercise shown to help improve bone health.
Runners are also half as likely as walkers to require hip replacements or develop osteoarthritis, according to a study published in the journal for Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. While increasing non-running exercise increased the likelihood of osteoarthritis and hip replacements, increasing the hours of running reduced their incidence further.
- You might live longer
Those who run may live an average of three years longer than those who don’t, suggests a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Those who ran even modestly during the week (less than 51 minutes, less than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only once or twice a week) still tended to live longer than those who did not run at all. While the study could not establish whether running directly causes longevity, its findings are still a good reason to take up running.
Moderate exercise also boosts the immune system, which helps you fight against infection and diseases (even the flu left unchecked can be life-threatening!). However, lengthy and intense exercise sessions can depress the immune system, so moderation and proper recovery is key to staying healthy.
Distance running helps drive down a host of coronary risk factors and is associated with lower death rates due to heart disease, the top leading cause of death according to the Center for Disease Control. The American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity three or four times a week to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- You’ll get valuable “me” time
With the pace of our modern world we tend to pack as much work as possible into our waking hours. Then after work it’s time to take care of other obligations, such as family or social responsibilities. For many runners, the time spent pounding pavement is precious time that helps improve mood and release stress. It’s also time we get to ourselves, a sort of breathing space before we dive back into our busy lives.
There are many more reasons you should start running. For me personally, I feel as if I come alive when I run. It makes me feel truly human. Sometimes I feel like I’m just a disembodied brain as I write at my computer. But when I’m out on the road listening to the sounds of my breath in the air and footfalls on the ground, feeling the wind on my skin as I go faster, seeing the world speed by me, I know I’m doing what I was built for. This is what keeps me running and will keep me running for years to come.
You’ll discover your own reasons for running when you go for a run. When’s the best time to start? How about RIGHT NOW.
About the Author
Bochakorn began her education in conventional medicine as a nurse, then shifted to embrace natural healing and integrative medicines. Her training and certifications abroad include: Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicines, Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
During her therapeutic sessions, she may also incorporate other aspects of integrative medicines when required, including: acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, nutritional, supplements and herbal recommendation.