In terms of activities human beings do, running comes close to breathing as a process. Running is simple, adaptable and versatile form of exercising, which suits every body type, age and sex. Many kinds of exercise can be effective for weight loss, but running is among the most effective. In a 2012 study, Paul Williams, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found runners were leaner and lighter than men and women who did equivalent amounts of any other type of exercise. The main reason seems to be that people typically burn more calories per minute when running than they do when swimming, riding a bike or anything else.
For many running has been a boon, gift given to the body in the most natural and pristine way. Running is a great option, as it burns more calories than any other form of exercise and it requires multiple muscle groups functioning hard and optimally together. A report by Harvard University compared the calories burned over 30 minutes by people at three different weight groups and found similar results. Hence you don’t have to be a pro runner to start, just putting in the same effort will drive similar results.
Doing any exercise regularly will help you lose weight, but only a few exercises will continue to burn calories even after you finish working out. High-intensity running, like hill repeats and interval runs can continue to burn calories up to 48 hours after you work out. This is because running uses many muscles and need more energy afterwards to recover. This is called ‘the afterburn effect’.
Several studies have found that the afterburn effect could help you burn extensively more calories over time.
Let’s see 10 reasons why running is a complete package:
- Weight loss – combine running with a healthy diet to create a calorie deficit, can help you in your weight loss goals. A calorie deficit essentially means that you are burning more calories than you consume. So it’s important to fill your diet with lower-calorie foods that make you feel full.
- Boost to metabolism – running is one of the most effective ways to rev up your metabolism. Aerobic activity, such as running on a regular basis, can increase your metabolism, as it burns more calories for energy, compared to any other form of exercise.
- De-stressor – running can control stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. It also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps moderate the brain’s response to stress, the sunshine vitamin. In addition brain releases a chemical called endorphins, which is behind “runner’s high,” a short-lasting, deeply euphoric state.
- Nature therapy – there is a strong connection between time spent in nature leading to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. In a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they ran in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found that those who did a nature run had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.
Running gives you an opportunity to spend 30 minutes or more in a natural space, boosting your brain activity, giving you a sense of well-being and supplying your body with fresh oxygen for better immunity.
- Community builder – there are many groups popping up in each city where runners meet up for a run. A whole new world of camaraderie and support is opened up for runners, as they set up routes and maps around the city, to keep up the creativity in running. Sports has always brought people together, running is just something which provides more time, creativity and opportunities to connect pre and post run.
- Confidence builder – one way running helps you build loads of self-esteem is by turning negative thoughts into positive ones. Running boosts self-esteem as you gain more experience. Once you finish a marathon or two, you start to appreciate how far you’ve come. Over time, that feeling of accomplishment can spill over into other areas of your life, from personal to professional, and inspire you to take new challenges you might not have considered otherwise.
- Meditative – running is a mental sport, more than anything else. You’re only as good as your training, and your training is only as good as your thinking. Research has shown that a consistent mindfulness meditation practice can help reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and pain. Lot of runners claim that running is meditative process where you concentrate on your breathe and keep doing the same motion for a very long time. If you can tap into the mindfulness aspect of it, the benefits can be profound. Try counting from 1-1000 and backwards, it’ll help you cover more distance while sharpening your brain.
- Improves body posture – running is a great cardio exercise to get your body in shape. Combine it with strength and flexibility training and you can achieve maximum benefits. Running is very good for creating an upright, tall posture as it trims down your waist, strengthens your back, chest, shoulders, quads and calve muscles. It requires multiple muscle groups working hard and simultaneously, hence giving your entire body an overhaul.
- Cost effective – yes, it is free-free-free!
Most of the other workouts have higher barrier to entry. You need a pool, a bike, a gym and a six figure salary to get started. However for a run you just need to afford a good pair of running shoes, a good playlist, may be a friend and you are set for a weight loss session.
- Location agnostic – This has been one of the secrets to my good health. No matter which city, state or country one is in, you can always workout. You can run in hot or cold weather, in snow or rain, desert or plains, the location is never a barrier for running. In addition to everything else, it is one of the most beautiful ways to explore a new city. Try it out and let me know your experience.
Running is therapeutic for many, It increases endurance, builds muscle to maintain an optimal body fat composition, promotes cardiovascular health and even improves your overall mood. Combined with weight and flexibility training, running can help you maintain the perfect balance of physical fitness and mental stimulation. So put on the running shoes and see those calories burn.