Running is a popular go-to exercise. While some may dismiss it as a high-impact activity with potential risks, others tout it as a transformative practice that can elevate physical fitness and mental well-being. Some people like to run on the treadmill. Some people prefer to run outside. Which is better, and what is the truth about running?
In this blog, we will delve into the scientific evidence and expert insights to explore the numerous benefits of running, along with the essential considerations to ensure a safe and rewarding running experience for everyone, from beginners to seasoned athletes. Whether you're contemplating lacing up your running shoes for the first time or optimizing your existing running routine, join us to uncover the surprising advantages and responsible practices associated with this age-old form of exercise.
Benefits of Running
Running is good both for your mind and body. Next, we will see these two aspects together as below.
Improved Cardiovascular Health: Running is a powerful aerobic exercise that pumps your heart, enhancing blood circulation and strengthening the cardiovascular system. Regular running helps reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Weight Management and Calorie Burning: Running is an effective way to burn calories and shed unwanted pounds. Whether you're looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, incorporating running into your routine can assist in achieving your fitness goals.
Strengthened Muscles and Bones: Running engages various muscle groups, such as the legs, core, and even upper body, leading to improved muscle tone and strength. It also promotes bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and related bone diseases.
Boosted Immune System: Moderate-intensity running has been associated with enhanced immune function. Regular runners experience fewer minor illnesses and infections, as exercise stimulates immune cells' activity.
Increased Longevity: Studies have shown that consistent runners generally live longer than those who lead sedentary lifestyles. Running may contribute to overall longevity by promoting better health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Stress Reduction and Anxiety Relief: Running is a natural stress reliever, promoting the release of endorphins, also known as "feel-good" hormones. These chemicals can help alleviate stress and anxiety, leaving you with a sense of calm and improved mental well-being.
Elevated Mood and Reduced Depression: Engaging in regular running has been linked to elevated mood levels and reduced symptoms of depression. The release of endorphins during running acts as a natural mood booster, positively impacting emotional health.
Enhanced Cognitive Function: Running has been associated with improved cognitive abilities, including better memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. The increased blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain during running contribute to these cognitive benefits.
Boosted Self-Esteem and Confidence: Achieving running milestones and setting and accomplishing personal goals can significantly boost self-esteem and confidence. Running allows individuals to witness their progress, leading to a positive self-perception and a sense of achievement.
Stress Management and Mental Resilience: Running serves as an outlet for stress, allowing individuals to clear their minds and gain mental clarity. Regular running can also help develop mental resilience, making coping with life's challenges and setbacks easier.
Incorporating running into your lifestyle can be a transformative experience, yielding numerous physical and mental benefits. Whether seeking improved fitness, emotional well-being, or a combination, running offers a holistic approach to nurturing your body and mind.
Potential Risks of Running
Impact on Joints and Injuries
Joint Strain: Running is a high-impact activity that can stress the joints, especially the knees and ankles. Over time, this repeated impact may lead to joint strain and discomfort.
Sprains and Strains: Running injuries like ankle sprains and muscle strains often result from sudden movements or overexertion.
Shin Splints: Shin splints, characterized by pain along the shinbone, can occur due to overuse and improper running techniques, causing inflammation in the lower leg.
Overtraining and Burnout
Overuse Injuries: Excessive running without adequate rest can lead to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, tendinitis, and a runner's knee.
Mental Exhaustion: Pushing oneself too hard without sufficient recovery can lead to mental fatigue and burnout, impacting motivation and enjoyment of running.
Importance of Proper Warm-ups and Cool-downs
Risk of Muscle Injury: Failing to warm up adequately before running can increase the risk of muscle injuries due to cold and tight muscles.
Post-Run Tightness: Skipping cool-down stretches can result in muscle tightness and stiffness, potentially leading to post-run discomfort and reduced flexibility.
Choosing Suitable Footwear and Gear
Incorrect Footwear: Ill-fitting or worn-out running shoes can lead to foot and ankle problems, including blisters, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis.
Inadequate Support: Running in improper gear or unsupportive clothing may cause discomfort and chafing, particularly during longer runs.
Listening to Your Body and Knowing When to Rest
Ignoring Pain Signals: Ignoring persistent pain or discomfort during running can exacerbate injuries and hinder healing.
Overtraining Warning Signs: Understanding the signs of overtraining, such as chronic fatigue, decreased performance, and disrupted sleep, is essential for preventing burnout and injuries.
It's important to note that while running carries potential risks, many of these can be mitigated through proper preparation, training, and self-awareness. By being mindful of your body's signals and taking appropriate precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of running while minimizing the likelihood of encountering these risks. Additionally, seeking advice from healthcare professionals or experienced trainers can provide valuable insights and guidance for safe and enjoyable running experiences.
Running is a versatile exercise that can be performed both on a treadmill indoors and outside in natural environments. Each option offers unique benefits and considerations, choosing between the two based on personal preference and specific fitness goals. Here, we explore the advantages and drawbacks of treadmills and outdoor running to help you decide which option best suits your needs. For more details, please check the blog: Is running on a treadmill or outside better?
Running every other day or running every day, which is better?
Can run every day hurt my knees? Can running every other day be effective? Many runners have questions about these issues and are caught between running every day and every other day.
Experts say that running every other day can also bring the desired effect of exercise, and running every day won't hurt your knees. There is no distinction between running every other day and running every day in terms of who is better or more scientific, and we still have to assess our ability and choose what to do. If you are a newcomer to the running circle, it is recommended to run every other day; if you are a veteran runner or have a better sports foundation, running every day is not a problem.
Running every other day can also benefit the body.
The U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines state that for substantial health benefits, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes a week (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes a week (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or a combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. Aerobic activity should last at least 10 minutes on 1 occasion and should ideally be spread out over the week.
Moderate-intensity exercise here is most typically brisk walking; running is generally a high-intensity exercise. This also means that running for 75 minutes a week will provide basic health benefits. If you run three times a week for about 20 minutes each time, it is easy to achieve the minimum amount of exercise of 75 minutes a week. Even if you are a novice runner, running three or four kilometers every other day at a slower pace, say a 7-allotment pace, you will satisfy the conditions for gaining health through running. Therefore, running every other day and running for about 20 minutes each time is good enough for health and is the basic amount of exercise suitable for most people.
Running on alternate days allows the body to rest more fully. Experts say that running makes us feel fatigued, which stems from the depletion of energy substances, and it takes about 24 hours to fully recover from glycogen depletion. The recovery of the heart, lungs, and other body systems generally depends on the individual's ability, people with good cardiorespiratory endurance may be able to recover in half an hour, and those with poor cardiorespiratory endurance running 5 kilometers may take nearly three hours before the heartbeat returns to the pre-exercise level. In addition, some people may still have muscle soreness on the second or third day after running, which is a sign that our muscles and joints are not quite used to the load. Therefore, for novice runners or runners with poor ability, running on alternate days is more conducive to eliminating fatigue and the recovery of the entire body.
Running every day can be scientific without hurting your knees.
Does that mean you shouldn't run every day? Not really. Experts say that the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines state that the more exercise you get within certain limits, the more health benefits you will experience. Scientific studies have found that about 1.5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 20 percent while increasing moderate to vigorous physical activity to about 5.5 hours per week reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by about 35 percent. That is, health gains are proportional to physical activity within certain limits. More physical activity will lead to more health benefits, including preventing the onset of chronic diseases and maintaining a healthy weight.
Regarding the issue of knee injuries from running every day, experts warn that if you are experiencing an injury, you should certainly take rest and are less suited to running every day. Still, there is no direct correlation between running every day and knee injuries. To take an extreme example, marathon runners train every day, run every day, and run more than 200 kilometers a month is the norm, but their incidence of knee injuries is lower than that of ordinary runners. The causes of knee injuries are very varied; unreasonable and overloaded running volume is certainly an important factor, but more causes are from the running posture and unreasonable movement chain. Abnormal kinematic chains often cause injuries as soon as the running volume increases; if the kinematic chain is normal, there is no problem with a slightly larger running volume.
Cross-training makes it easy to stay active.
The biggest concern of many runners about running every other day is whether they can achieve a certain amount of exercise to increase consumption and help lose weight. Experts say that we do not have to think so complicatedly about this issue, not that running every other day, exercise must be every other day, we can run every other day, during which to do other sports, also known as cross-training.
Cross-training allows us to develop our physical fitness more comprehensively to run faster and longer and make us more powerful and supple. At the same time, cross-training can also reduce the chances of sports injuries. Many runners' injuries are strain injuries, i.e., injuries caused by repeating the same, wrong movements for a long time. At the same time, cross-training reduces the chances of strain injuries by constantly changing movements through different exercises while improving the overall physical quality. In addition, cross-training can help you consistently improve your athleticism and maintain your workout.
For runners, cycling, swimming, or doing strength training at intervals in addition to running allows different body parts to take turns resting and enhances the fun of the exercise without having to worry about not having enough exercise to affect the progress of weight loss.
In conclusion, running is an incredibly beneficial exercise that positively impacts both the body and mind. The extensive list of physical benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, weight management, strengthened muscles, and a boosted immune system, underscores running's role as a key contributor to overall fitness and longevity. Moreover, running offers many mental and emotional advantages, such as stress reduction, elevated mood, enhanced cognitive function, and increased self-esteem. By embracing running as part of a well-rounded fitness regimen, individuals can unlock many rewards beyond physical fitness to encompass mental well-being and overall quality of life.