Not to knock any other form of exercise (they’re all good for you), but running is pretty damn great. Contrary to popular belief, it’s so much more than a prescription for weight loss. Here are 17 reasons to lace up those shoes and try it out today:
1. You set the rules
Whether you prefer rolling hills, city streets, or the traditional track, you decide where to run, and how fast to go. You don’t need to have a sub 6-minute mile to be a runner. There’s no goal to score, no time pressure and nothing’s out of bounds. It’s all up to you.
2. It can cut your risk of heart disease by almost half
In a study of over 44,000 Americans, men who ran for an hour or more per week had a 42 percent risk reduction of coronary heart disease, compared to men who didn’t run. This risk reduction was less pronounced in other forms of exercise, at 23 percent in men who trained with weights and 18 percent in men who rowed crew.
3. You get to spend quality time with yourself
It’s been a long day. Deadlines are staring you down, and it seems everyone you know needs something from you right this moment. Well, running won’t make your boss go away, but it will help you take a step back (literally), tune out of everything and focus on yourself. Shoes on, world out.
4. It will help you catch up to those zzz’s
Running has been associated with higher sleep quality – a study found marathon runners to have better quality sleep and more circadian rhythm readjustment (read: less jet lag) after a transcontinental flight.
5. It’s a great way to explore your surroundings
Driving around town just doesn’t give you the same feeling as conquering on foot. Running makes you work for that beautiful view, which makes the journey all the more meaningful. If you see something you like, you can just stop to smell the roses: no need to park. Plus, you get more Insta-worthy selfies. #diditfortheInsta
6. Your bones and joints will thank you
Believe it or not, running builds bone density more effectively than resistance training, which is typically recommended to protect and increase bone density. Also, don’t believe everything you’re told – runners are actually at less risk for knee arthritis than non-runners.
7. Friends who run together, stay together
It doesn’t matter if you’re a social butterfly or prefer the comforts of the underside of a rock – logging miles with others is a great way to bond (especially if you run with a giant Spoon, so we hear). There’s something epic about having your breathing in sync and limbs in motion that can’t be attained with dinner and a movie.
8. Running can prolong your life
No need to concoct an elixir to live forever: running can help you do that. Well, sort of. Scientists from Stanford followed middle to older-aged runners and non-runners for 21 years and observed reduced disability and mortality rates in runners. Near the end of the study, only 15 percent of the runners had passed away, compared to 34 percent of the non-runners.
9. Runners are the friendliest breed of folk
If you’ve ever been to a road race, you’ll know what I mean. People you don’t even know will cheer shamelessly for you, and hand you water and energy gel with a smile. Waves, high-fives and thumbs-ups are common on the streets as well. Runners know how to spread the love, and spread it thick.
10. It boosts your self-esteem and mood
Researchers from the UK discovered that running significantly increased self-esteem and improved mood. What’s more, when exposed to pleasant, natural scenes, runners experienced more pronounced benefits. All the more reason to run outside.
11. No expensive membership needed
Save your Ben Franklins; you already have a membership in nature’s own gym, and all you need to run is some spirit. There are countless training plans online, and forums for you to get great info…for free!
12. Runner’s high
‘Nuff said. The runners reading this probably all cracked a smile. You know what I’m talking about, the giddy, invincible, “I can keep going forever the world is my oyster” kind of feeling. There’s science behind this, too: running increases blood levels of endocannabinoids, which may be the mighty molecules that give runners their high, If you haven’t had the chance to experience the bliss that is runner’s high, I 10/10 recommend.
13. It’s convenient
No extra equipment needed – it’s just you and your shoes (sometimes the latter can even be optional). The hardest step is the first one out the door, I promise.
14. It makes you more energetic and less tired
The next time you feel like potating on the couch, consider going out for a run. If you exercise regularly, a single run can elevate your energy levels and fight fatigue, so an hour later, you’ll feel much better than had you remained sedentary.
15. It gets the job done
We aren’t counting, but running blasts calories. It’s just a fact. As the second most effective exercise considering calories burned per minute, running is only behind cross country skiing. And I don’t know about you, but running seems much more accessible. So if you’ve got a physical health goal in mind, running will help you get there faster.
16. You can do it anywhere
Golden Gate Bridge? Yep. Waikiki Beach? Check. The streets of DC? Done. You name the place, there’s almost definitely a trail or street for you to run on. When you’re a runner, the world’s your oyster.
17. Anyone can do it
There’s no steep learning curve to running. After all, we were born to do it. Put one foot in front of another at a pace that’s faster than a brisk walk, and hey, you’re a runner.
So what are you waiting for?
Go out there and run yourself happy.