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11 reasons to start running. How will it change your body?

Running is generally considered to be one of the most natural movements a person can engage in. Even small children, as soon as they learn to walk, run around the house. However, the turning point often occurs when they go to school and running becomes a duty.

The 60m run or endless running around the school playground destroyed a positive attitude towards this sport for many children, who carry it through into adulthood. Subsequently, after getting a job, running seems like an even bigger utopia.

We probably won’t help you to get rid of the traumatic childhood experience, but in today’s article we may convince you that running doesn’t have to be as bad as you remember it. Just read and find out what general benefits running provides and how it can change your body! We believe that you would give it one more chance.

Why start running?

1. It burns a lot of calories and fat

Burning calories while running

Running is one of the sports that have high energy demands. No wonder that if you are trying to lose weight, you often start by putting on sports sneakers and go running.

The number of calories you burn while running depends on many factors. Among the most important we can mention, for example, age, running speed and length, running terrain and your weight.

For a better overview of burned calories, let’s have an example: [1]

● A female runner who weighs 60 kg and runs 10 km in an hour will burn approx. 617 kcal.

● A male runner who weighs approximately 80 kg and runs 10 km in an hour will burn approx. 823 kcal.

What can this amount of calories really look like?

Food617 kcal823 kcal

Chicken breasts (raw)

560 g

750 g

Rice (raw)

175 g

230 g

Apples

1080 g

1450 g

Milk chocolate

115 g

155 g

So if our two runners decide that they don’t want to lose weight and, on the contrary, they want to replenish burned calories, they should have a quality snack after exercise.

This snack may look like this:

A female runner would supplement the burned 617 kcal with the following snack: 50 g of oat flakes (193 kcal), 150 g of Greek white yogurt with 0% fat (86 kcal), 30 g of chocolate protein (115 kcal), 100 g of banana (94 kcal) and 22 g peanut butter (132 kcal)

A male runner would supplement the burned 823 kcal with the following snack: 80 g oat flakes (309 kcal), 200 g Greek white yogurt with 0% fat (115 kcal), 30 g chocolate protein (115 kcal), 100 g banana (94 kcal) and 31 g peanut butter (187 kcal)

Post-run snack

And what if our runners decided to live the same way they did so far, so they will be just as active and still eat the same, just add one hour running workout at 10 km / h three times a week?

If we do not take into account the adaptation of the body and other side factors that could affect the result, they would achieve the following results in half a year (26 weeks):

● The female runner would burn approximately 48,126 kcal during this period (calculated as follows: 617x3x26).

● The male runner would burn approximately 64,194 kcal during this period (calculated as follows: 823x3x26).

One kilogram of fat represents approximately 7700 kcal. This means that in half a year, the female runner would lose about 6.3 kg of fat and the male runner 8.3 kg of fat. The only change they would have to make is to run for an hour three times a week. That’s not so hard, is it?

And as a bonus to burned calories, you get toned body with a visibly lower percentage of body fat and less visible cellulite.

You can see from the calculations that this sport is a really great tool for burning calories. In addition, if you run regularly several times a week, you don’t have to worry about your body when having some dessert with a friend over coffee. You can indulge in it even if you are trying to lose a few kilos. Just be careful not to make this exception a regular issue.

2. It increases your stamina

You are surely familiar with the scenario when you stay behind for a while in the morning and suddenly find out that you have to catch a bus in a few minutes. At that moment, the fight against time begins. It starts with a slightly accelerated walk, because you think that you can still make it, which you gradually replace with a sprint to the incoming bus. And how does it end? Well, of course you missed it again …

If you start running regularly, this scenario will become a thing of the past. Your body will gradually get used to this activity, which will result in ability to run faster and longer distances.

Running and losing weight

If you are a complete beginner, you need to increase the load gradually. It is possible that you will run only 100 meters for the first time and will have to continue walking. It is completely normal, this type of activity even has its own name – run-walk method. So just run at a slow pace, run as much as you can and then switch to a faster walk. Once you catch your breath, run again and repeat the interval.

However, over time, you can increase the running time and, conversely, shorten the walking time until you reach a level where you find that you don’t even need to walk anymore, because you manage to finish your run at once.

Runners, who have no problem with a longer continuous run, can also further improve their stamina. There are many possibilities, try for example:

  • increase running speed
  • extend the running distance
  • include a route with a high altitude
  • try HIIT, where you alternate intervals with maximum intensity (sprint) with low intensity intervals (recovery) [2]

  • try repeating uphill sprints, alternate with downhill intervals
  • Enthusiasts can try, for example, a combination of running and exercise with body weight, when for example you run for 10 minutes and then do 30 push-ups, 30 jump-squats and continue running. This way you can combine any running distance with any exercises.

As you can see, there are many ways to boost intensity, just choose yours. However, always consider your current stamina to avoid causing health problems. There’s time for everything, and if you persevere, you will be rewarded at the end, for example, you would be able to catch a bus without losing breath.

3. It improves your health

Incorporating regular running activity will affect not only your appearance but also your health. It is generally recommended to have at least 150 minutes of medium-intensity activities or 75 minutes of high-intensity activities each week. This is really the bare minimum that everyone should keep. You can easily cover this by running. [3]

Regular sports will strengthen the heart and lungs, which will improve your cardiovascular system. This can be manifested, for example, by a reduction in blood pressure or the risk of a heart attack. With physical activity, you can train the heart muscle to such a level that the heart will need fewer beats to pump the same amount of blood, because the amount of blood that the heart sends into the bloodstream with one beat will increase. During running and other sports, you can save it a lot of work and effort. Another benefit may be, for example, a reduction in cholesterol levels or a reduction in the risk of osteoporosis. [3]

In one extensive research which analyzed more than 170 studies, researchers Friedenreich and Orenstein have found that regular physical activity can even reduce the risk of bladder, breast, colon or stomach cancer. [4]

Regular running also affects your immune system. When you run, your heart rate increases, which also speeds up blood circulation. The body gradually begins to challenge immune system cells – lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) to speed up and fight a possible threat (pathogens). When starting the exercise, the number of immune cells increases several times. 10-15 minutes after the end of the run, the cell count returns to normal. However, their number further falls below the normal level and it may take several hours to return to their normal level. This period is called the “open window”, during which the body could be more susceptible to disease. However, this possible susceptibility was refuted by Campbell and Turner, who found that during this time the immune cells do not disappear, they just appear outside the blood system seeking for infection, which is their primary role. This process is called immune surveillance. [5] [6]

These facts indicate that the so-called “open window” is not as bad as it might seem at first glance. However, the truth is that with increasing exercise intensity and length, the risk of temporarily reduced immune system function increases. This may also be caused by too much exercise, due to which the body does not have time to recover sufficiently, and thus it may be more susceptible to the disease.

However, if you include adequate amount of running workouts and pay attention to sufficient regeneration, your body’s defense system will be strengthened and you will be more resistant to viruses and bacteria that are all around us.

Healthier thanks to running

4. It improves sleep

If you have problems with falling asleep, frequent waking up and poor sleep, running could be a solution in these cases as well. It is not the best choice to go running just before you go to bed, due to the release of endorphins (the happiness hormone), which could frustrate your attempts to fall asleep. In general, our body works in a way that during running its temperature increases. It signals the body that it should be up. However, 30 to 90 minutes after the exercise, the body temperature begins to drop, which may gradually help to induce sleepiness. [7] [8]

If you experience this phenomenon, you should go running in the afternoon. However, according to scientists, it does not matter what hour you go running, since you would feel the positive effect on night sleep after any type of running at any time of day. [7] [8]

If you experience constant trouble falling asleep try sleep aids, such as melatonin, you can read more about its benefits in the article Melatonin – does it really improve sleep and help you fall asleep?

5. It can benefit your mental health

Vitamin D

You may not be surprised that running, like other physical activities, has a positive effect on reducing stress level in the body. Above all, it helps to reduce long-term stress, which has a negative effect not only on the mentioned immunity.

If you do sports regularly, you are definitely familiar with the case when you have too many thoughts and responsibilities, so you go out to do some exercise. And after that? Suddenly all the problems seem to be somewhat bearable and some of the troubles may have completely disappeared. [9]

This is exactly how it works with running. You can enjoy it even more if you decide to go running on fresh air in nature. Autumn is just perfect for it. The nature is changing its colors right in front of your eyes, it is neither very hot nor very cold, and in addition you can capture the sun’s rays, which manifests vitamin D.

Running also has a positive effect on your mental health. Unfortunately, its level is lower in the autumn and winter period, so it is important to focus on, for example, the intake of fatty fish or vitamin d supplements. [10]

And if even during running you’re constantly thinking about what’s still waiting for you, what happened at work, and so on, we recommend playing your favorite playlist or podcast, which will boost you mood and motivation. You will have to focus on song lyrics, so you won’t think about your problems.

6. You will learn about self-discipline

Sticking to your set goals during the first few days or weeks may be not easy at all. To do this, you need to set realistic goals. For starters, it will be fine to run twice a week. Tell yourself that you will go running on Mondays and Thursdays, for example, and follow the plan. And then do it, even if you don’t feel like it, or it was raining, windy or whatever else.

You don’t have to run for an hour. Initially, a few minutes may be enough. It is important that you start working on a new habit. This is the only way to maintain discipline. If you feel that it really isn’t your day, run as much as you can and walk the rest. The main thing is that you didn’t skip the run.

The discipline you learn in running can then help in other spheres of your life. If you can plan to go running and really manage to do it, then it will be easy for you to complete some necessary task. In the same way, you can also schedule the days when you, for example, do cleaning or cooking food for the next days. Get inspired with our article How to effectively prepare and pack meals?

Thanks to the set plan and the acquired discipline, you will know exactly what do you have to do on a given day, so you will not have to think over it. In addition, you will avoid doing several things at once or, procrastinating, when you end up lying in front of TV. You will start feeling really good after reaching your goals, you will know that you can achieve everything you set, and, in addition, you will have more time for yourself thanks to planning.

Running and discipline

7. It can save your time

How many times have you heard an excuse from someone (maybe even from yourself) that there is no time to exercise? Indeed, it can be a difficult task for an extremely busy person to organize their time to go to the gym.

It doesn’t seem like that, but if we do some math:

● Trip to the gym (20 min), payment for admission, change of clothes, preparation in the locker room (10 min), training (60 min), chat with friends (10 min), shower after exercise (10 min), using hair dryer so that you don’t catch a cold on your way home (10 min), way home (20 min), taking out clothes from a sports bag (5 min).

● As a result, one hour of exercise can take 140 minutes a day, which not everyone can do since they have to go to work, do the shopping, take care of the family and so on.

And now let’s compare it with running:

● Changing into running clothes at home (5 min), running workout (60 min), taking off running clothes (5 min), shower (10 min).

● And the result? Running can save one hour. During that time, one can have time to prepare food for the next day, have dinner and still have time to clean the kitchen.

So now you certainly can’t use lack of time as an excuse.

8. You’ll save money

Running will save you money

If you have decided to replace cardio on orbitrack in the gym 3 times a week with running, you will see that you spend less money. If we calculate that the average entrance fee to the gym costs about 3 euros, you can save 10 euros per week. Even though it is not a dizzying amount of money, it is already 40 euros a month and even 480 euros a year, which is a decent amount, right?

Since you can save money, and work on your body by running, you deserve some joy from time to time! Buying sportswear is perfect for the occasion. Not only will you reward yourself, but you will also gain new motivation to do sports. After all, it would be a shame for the new clothing pieces to just lie in your closet. The next running session will be perfect for trying them out.

9. You’ll explore the surroundings

You may know well your way to work, from work, to the shop, cafe and the like. But do you know where the alleys behind your house lead? You may be surprised at what is hidden in your surroundings. Maybe there’s a valley just a few miles from your house where you have never been, and maybe you could run around to see how the places you visited a few years ago have changed. There are many possibilities.

And if you feel that you will not be surprised by anything in the area, try to google what is located in the more distant area of your residence. You don’t have to run just from the house, you can walk a short distance, run there, and then return by public transport or by car.

Another way is to ask your friends to take you with them if they are driving somewhere and drop you off after a few kilometers. You can then run home. By not running back and forth, but only back home, you can explore more distant places. In this case, however, we recommend running with a phone with GPS. It can easily happen that you get lost in an unfamiliar surroundings, so the planned 10-kilometer run could become a 15-kilometer suffering.

Exploring the surroundings by running

10. You’ll meet new people

It probably happened to you that someone was waving at you while running or at least smiled at you. This behavior captures the mentality of the runners and, more generally, depicts this community within the sport. Runners like to welcome newcomers and with this gesture they try to express their support, because every person who runs knows very well how difficult it is to start.

People who meet regularly on their routes sometimes have a small talk or run together for a kilometer. Knowing that you are not alone in this can help you, especially in the beginning. And if you already feel like it, you can take part in a running race, where you will meet other people who share your interests, and you will also have a great sports experience which will motivate you for further running workout.

11. You will get more confident

Running and higher self-confidence

So let’s sum it up. Thanks to running, you will easily lose some weight, improve your body physique, health, sleep quality, mental health, you will become more disciplined, save time and money, which you can spend on new sportswear, and you will also make new friends. Is there anything else you need to feel more confident? We think these are decent reasons to start. And all you need is to start running a few kilometers several times a week.

What should you remember?

Running, like other sports, has many health benefits for your psyche. At the same time, it is a great way to achieve your dream body. However, if you want to be an all-around athlete, you should combine it with strength training.

At the same time, it is necessary to focus on quality food intake, which will help you replenish your energy after a demanding running workout and give you strength for the next one. To find out more, read our article How to calculate your energy and macronutrient intake for weight loss or muscle gain?

If you already have any experience with running, whether it is negative or positive, we will be happy if you share it with us. And if the article convinced you that going running is not a bad idea, definitely share it with your friends. Maybe this way you will find your running partner, which will make it even easier for you to start.

Source:

[1] Calories Calculator for runners – 

https://caloriesburnedhq.com/calories-burned-running/

[2] Hahn (2019) – The effect of interval intensity on time to exhaustion during high intensity interval training (HIIT) running in recreational male runners – digitalcommons.humboldt.edu/etd/251/

[3] Centers for disease control and prevention Atlanta – Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight – https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html

[4] Friedenreich, Orenstein (2002) – Physical Activity and Cancer Prevention: Etiologic Evidence and Biological Mechanisms – https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/132.11.3456S

[5] Pedersen, Bruunsgaard (1995) – How physical exercise influences the establishment of infections – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7676100/

[6] Campbell, Turner – Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29713319/

[7] Hopkins Center for Sleep – Exercising for Better Sleep – https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep

[8] Kalak a kolektiv (2012) – Daily Morning Running for 3 Weeks Improved Sleep and Psychological Functioning in Healthy Adolescents Compared With Controls – https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.02.020

[9] American Psychological Association (2008) – Physical Activity Reduces Stress – https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

[10] Sarfraz Zaidi (2013) – Power of Vitamin D, United States of America