11 ways to outwit the most common running injuries
11 Ways Running Is Great for Your Health
"I really should run more." We've all said it at one time or another, but it's truer that most people realize. Case in point: these 11 awesome, life-changing benefits of putting one foot in front of the other.
It Slashes Your Risk of Heart Disease
Running could cut your risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 45 percent, according to recent research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Why? Running improves blood pressure, raises you HDL (good) cholesterol, and improves blood sugar sensitivity, explains Janet Hamilton, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist at Running Strong in Atlanta.
It Burns Crazy Calories
If you're vying to burn calories on a cardio machine, the treadmill is the way to go. It one study from the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center, runners who ran at a "hard" exertion level burned 705 to 865 calories in an hour—more than if they exercised on the stair climber, rowing machine, or stationary bike.
It Strengthens Your Joints
Don't let that "running is rough on your joints" mumbo-jumbo fool you. Granted you run smart (progress gradually, treat muscle imbalances, keep good form, and wear the right shoes), running can help keep joints strong. Running increases the amount of blood that makes its way to your joints, increasing their oxygen delivery and flushing out toxins. Plus, it strengthens your joints' bones as well as the ligaments around your joints, helping to fend off joint pain, says Hamilton.
It Relieves Stress
When it comes to curbing anxiety, exercising for an hour is three times better than spending that time resting, according to research from the University of Georgia Department of Exercise. Running is perfect for getting away from it all and in touch with yourself, says Hamilton.
MORE:9 Ways Stress Messes With Your Body
It Keeps Your Peepers Healthy
Your eyes are the window to your health—they are affected by conditions including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Luckily, running fights all those conditions, and research published inMedicine & Science in Sports & Exerciseshows that running can lower your risk for developing vision-clouding cataracts, as well.
It Improves Your Follow-Through
If you can power through a long run, you can power through anything. Research from the University of Iowa found that since cardio exercise requires long and consistent effort (think: running), doing it regularly can improve your ability to stick with lengthy and arduous to-dos.
It Strengthens Your Bones
High-impact exercise like running spurs bone growth and promotes healthy bone mineral density; a study this year found that women between 25 and 50 who hopped at least 10 times twice a day significantly increased their hipbone density. And if you haven't noticed, running is basically just hopping from foot to foot in a forward direction, says Hamilton. "Loading your bones stimulates the bones to grow and stay strong," she says.
It Can Fight Cancer
A review of 170 studies in the Journal of Nutrition showed that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. Meanwhile, cancer survivors who run may be better off. Breast cancer survivors who run rather than walk experience significant reductions in breast cancer mortality—even when they’ve spent the same amount of energy on their jaunts, according to theInternational Journal of Cancer.
It Can Get You Outside
How much time do you spend outside each day? Research suggests that the more, the better. Upping your body's levels of vitamin D, which primarily comes from our time spent outside, helps keep your bones strong, your mood lifted, and even aids in weight loss.
MORE:8 Signs You Need to Be Getting More Vitamin D
It Boost Your Confidence
When you run, you are constantly trying to run farther and faster than before. And doing something you couldn't before—whether that's running a mile without stopping or breaking an eight-minute mile—comes with an awesome sense of accomplishment and empowerment, says Hamilton.
It Helps You Live Longer
If you haven't noticed by now, running comes with a ton of mind and body benefits. Bonus: They add up to a longer life. In one long-term study on the influence of running on health from the Stanford University School of Medicine, researchers found that after 21 years, 85 percent of runners were still alive, while only 66 percent of non-runners were.
Video: 6 Ways Running Improves Your Health
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