Running is amazing for your body, brain, and soul.
However, making that all-important step from your living room onto the tarmac can be hard. The sofa is so cosy after all. But it’s also standing in between you and your personal well-being. So whatcha gonna do about it?
This is no infomercial. Running is one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around. And you can do it for free, anytime.
Still not convinced? Here are 30 reasons to hit the ground running.
The benefits of running for your bod won’t come as much of a surprise.
1. Visit the doctor less
Apples aren’t the only things that keep the doctor away. A review from 2019 found that staying active might help you prevent 15 percent of colorectal cancers.
And people with vaginas who engage in 150 minutes of workouts, like running, each week can reduce their lifetime risk of breast cancer by at least 9 percent, according to a 2016 study.
No bad for a little bit of sidewalk pounding.
2. Eat more carbs
Here’s an excuse to slurp up more spaghetti: During intense training (like preparing for a race), increasing carb intake can help your performance and boost your mood during harder runs.
If you really, really like potatoes and bread, running may well be a good reason to keep carbin’.
3. Live longer
Not only do runners have fewer disabilities and remain active longer than their sedentary counterparts, but they actually live longer too, according to a 2019 review.
The researchers put this health benefit down to reduced glycation in the tendons of long-distance runners.
Glycation happens when excess blood sugar sticks to the molecules of collagen and elastin in the tendons and skin — and once glucose starts messing with the proteins that keep our skin strong and supple, mobility issues can occur.
4. Get a natural glow
Believe it or not, working up a sweat can rid your pores of the gunk that clogs them and leads to those pesky breakouts.
Sweating produces a peptide called dermcidin that kills bacteria in the skin.
A solid sweat session can also boost natural oils, keeping your skin fresh and healthy. (Just remember to remove makeup preworkout and wash gently afterward to avoid breakouts.)
5. Feel the burn
Burning calories means you earn your carbs and treats — and running is a super effective way to do so.
A super intense run can burn 920 calories in men and 740 calories in women — but you don’t even have to go at it full force to shift that pent-up energy.
Even jogging 1 mile in 9 minutes helps burn 730 calories in men and 580 calories in women.
We took a look at the calories that disappear in the almighty squat — learn more here.
6. Turn down the pressure
High blood pressure (HBP), often known as the “silent killer,” is a health problem to keep at bay at all costs.
Good job, then, that putting in some good ol’ fashioned roadwork can bring your resting blood pressure down, according to a 2020 study.
However, for people who already have a diagnosis of HBP, the effects of running on blood pressure depend on how hardcore the run is. The study authors recommend low-mileage, moderate-intensity runs to reduce your blood pressure.
7. Build stronger bones
Resistance training is awesome, but word on the street is running might help produce even stronger bones than cranking out reps.
Running helps build the muscle that lower-impact workouts ignore, keeping bones healthier, even as they age.
A 2019 study found that running increases the presence in the body of bone formation markers, compounds that show how your body is absorbing and generating bone.
More bone formation markers = more bone for your buck. So lace up those sneakers and get moving.
8. Get an energy boost
Feeling sluggish? Try going for a jog instead of lounging on the couch.
While it seems like getting active might wear you out, it’s actually more likely to refresh you. Just one run can increase energy and decrease fatigue.
A 2020 systematic review on people who live with multiple sclerosis (MS), for example, found that regular exercise is vital for reining in the fatigue symptoms of MS.
Especially if you’re out running in a brisk wind, the chill will blow the cobwebs right off you.
9. Strengthen that core
A strong core improves posture, strengthens limbs, and helps make everyday activities a breeze.
And whether you feel it or not, running engages your midsection, strengthening those all-important muscles. People often don’t give running credit as a contributor to core strength in the same way as something like Pilates. But it can still help.
Bonus: A solid core can improve your running performance.
10. Show your heart some loving
People who run for just 5 to 10 minutes a day can reduce their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
And for those already hitting the recommended physical activity guidelines (that’s 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), an extra spurt of exercise can lower your risk of heart disease even further.
(Just be mindful not to overdo it and cause more damage than good.)
11. Increase stamina
Running regularly will improve stamina, making workouts more enjoyable and productive.
And let’s not forget that lasting longer isn’t restricted to the track — it’s useful in, uh, other areas as well (tee hee hee).
12. Stay steady
There’s not a huge amount of research on the balance benefits of running.
But an earlier study found that older adults with running experience tend to stop themselves falling more successfully after tripping up than those without, recovering with a single step.
Don’t overdo it
Yes, we’re presenting a whole bunch of reasons why you should go for a run right about now — but not why you should do it too much.
According to research from 2020, stress fractures account for 10 percent of sporting injuries in general but 30 percent of running injuries. That means pounding the pavement and putting too much pressure on your joints and connective tissue might not be a great move.
For advice on the injuries that can come from excessive running, we’ve got you covered.
Running helps your thinker think and stay happy.
13. Check off those goals
People who set and meet (or exceed) long-term fitness goals (like signing up for a half-marathon) may end up feeling more committed to and satisfied with their exercise routines than those who trudge along aimlessly.
Research that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic found that motivation and reward are key elements for getting people active at a time when they’d really, really rather binge all three “A Christmas Prince” movies and cry into their tortilla chips.
Goal-setting then becomes an upward spiral — you set the goals to motivate yourself, then hit the goals to motivate yourself further and set even more impressive targets.
14. Get primal
Turns out Bruce Springsteen was right: We were born to run. Running turned us from apes to humans and was used by our ancestors to catch prey and elude predators (oh, how sneaky we were).
Running is a great chance to reconnect with the part of you that gets a kick out of dodging wooly mammoth charges. Playing “Call of Duty” just doesn’t hit the right spot.
Falling in love also has link to evolution, so our hunter/gatherer roots must be something to write home about.
15. Sleep better
Runners tend to adapt to set sleeping routines that give them the foundation to maintain high performance.
Even better: Running may encourage higher quality sleep, which translates into better Zzz’s all night long.
16. Bring sexy back
Not only does earlier research suggest that having a rockin’ runner’s bod boost confidence in bed, but also that regular exercise can also help flexibility between the sheets and get you in the mood more often.
While more recent reviews found that limited research supports the link between aerobic exercise and improved sexytime in women around the time of menopause, feeling good about yourself certainly won’t hurt your ability to feel good in bed.
On the flipside, a 2020 study found that feeling dissatisfied with your body image can f*ck with your ability to climax, both solo and with a partner.
17. Boost memory
Exercise has been shown to help keep the mind sharp.
A 2011 study on mice also found that hitting the track might reduce dementia symptoms and protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, although the researchers couldn’t definitely extend these findings to humans.
Still, getting your legs going can help clear your head and bring renewed focus.
18. Run stress away
Ready to pull your hair out? Instead of tuning in to a brainless reality TV marathon, try running an actual marathon.
Not only does physical activity reduce the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, doing it regularly might actually remodel the brain, making it calmer and more stress resistant — it certainly did so in a 2012 study on mice.
19. See the sunny side
If your mood is low or you feel in a funk, going on a run can help you clear your head and feel better.
A 2020 review found that studies support a link between running and improved mood.
However, it’s not all roses. The review also suggested that studies on the running/mental health connection use limited sample sizes, and that running might contribute to exercise addiction and other potential mental health difficulties.
20. Improve self-esteem
Need another excuse to go green? One earlier study found that runners who ran outside and snagged a good view of nature showed increased self-esteem post-workout than those who had only unpleasant scenes to gaze at.
A more recent study posited running as a therapy tool for self-esteem issues.
We looked deeper into the benefits of running outdoors here.
Running is about as wholesome as this story about a family finding a koala bear in a Christmas tree.
However, it’s also hard work to start out — here’s how to make it fit your vibe.
21. Go places — whether in your goals or in the world at large
Running is a great way to make progress and discover parts of yourself you never knew about.
Whether you’re breaking new ground in your metrics on the treadmill or discovering new corners of your hometown (or, if you’re feeling super smug, the next town over) or a park.
It’s easy to rack up miles, and running can help you incubate curiosity about where you live and what you’re capable of.
Even better: Lace up your sneakers on your next vacation to explore a new place. Just make sure, for safety, you let someone know an approximate time you should be back.
22. Make new friends
Tired of meeting duds at the bar?
Check out local running groups or websites like Meetup and hit the road with other health-minded folks. It’s also a great physically distanced activity to do with the friends you already have during COVID times.
Twenty questions is just as good during a run (boozy brunches afterward are optional).
23. Save some cash
Forget fancy equipment or a pricey gym membership: When it comes to running, all you need is the right footwear.
(And maybe the right gear for when it gets cold.)
24. Keep it interesting
Forget boring laps around a track. Interval training helps boost metabolism and rev up your cardiovascular fitness.
Bonus: Research shows people who do intervals have more fun while running (really!) and might be more likely to keep it up.
Be sure to mix up your running routine.
25. Take your furry friends
Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason, and they can be man’s best workout buddy too.
Grab a leash and give your pet a new kind of treat. And also just hang around with a dog more — what’s not to relish? 🐶
26. Do it year-round
You can rack up the miles no matter what the weatherman says (just dress appropriately!). It’s a fantastic way to keep yourself motivated during winter months and create a fitness lifestyle, not just a fad.
Temperatures still not just right? Jazz up the ol’ treadmill run to get the same health benefits indoors.
27. Jam out to speed up
Pop in headphones when running to increase speed and get a little energy boost. We won’t even judge your playlist.
28. Be one with nature
Because sometimes the only answer is running through a field, “Sound of Music” style. Want to feel the grass tickle your toes? Try minimalist sneakers or nothing at all. Just be sure to ease into this type of running to avoid injuries.
The hills will be very much alive.
29. A way to max out your morning stroll
A morning or evening stroll is a great way to kick off or conclude your day by taking in your surroundings, clearing your head, and breathing some fresh air.
Instead of a leisurely strolling pace, however, a jog around the neighborhood will burn more calories in the same amount of time, plus confer all the above benefits.
30. Sound like a pro
Getting into any hobby, passion, or lifestyle gives you a whole new set of ideas and words to play with. Joining Facebook groups can connect you with like-minded people who can immerse you in everything running.
Get ahead of the conversation with our list of running lingo.
Running can boost your heart, bone, and muscle strength, as well as improving your stamina and even (possibly) boost your sex life.
It also helps you love yourself and your body, brings down your levels of stress-induced compounds, and helps you create and stick to goals.
Going for your first run may seem tough. But if you grab yourself some friends, great tunes, or even your dog for accompaniment, you’re in for a world of health benefits.
It’s important, as well, not to fall into many of the traps that greet first-time runners. Learn how to avoid the mistakes of running here.