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Need Some Convincing to Start Running? Here are 10 Reasons

Whether you are pounding the pavement for a short jog or you’re a routine racer, running is great cardiovascular training. It is a gratifying way to maintain overall fitness. Although the act of running itself may initially seem daunting if you’re not an avid runner, you will reap the physical benefits within a few weeks. The key is to start slowly and add distance incrementally to decrease the risk of injury.

Here are the top 10 health benefits of running:

  1. Improve Longevity: Running 1.5 – 2 hours 20- 30 minutes per week can increase your lifespan by 5-6 years! There is no need to enter any races to increase your longevity. As long as you’re running fast enough to feel slightly out of breath, regular jogging or running can help you live longer.
  2. Burn Fat: Running 6.2 MPH (10K per hour) burns roughly 300 calories in 30 minutes. Regardless of your speed, breaking a sweat while running or jogging for 20-30 minutes burns up to 100 calories.
  3. Reduce Your Cancer Risk: Sweating it out with a regular jogging or running program 3-5 days per week decreases the chance of developing cancer by 30-40 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. This is due to the direct correlation between physical activity and cancer risk.
  4. Strengthen Your Core: Running helps strengthen your abdominals, backside and legs. Hills and interval running in particular are great for building lower extremity and abdominal strength. Adding resistance training to your regular running routine will also provide you with a boost in strength and decreased risk for developing an injury from muscular imbalances.
  5. Improve Your Sleep: Forget counting sheep! According to a study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity Journal, 30 minutes of running 5 days per week boosts sleep quality by 65 percent. Moderate to vigorous exercise weekly will also leave you feeling less groggy throughout the day by boosting your daytime energy.
  6. Reduce Your Risk of Osteoporosis: Weight-bearing activities such as running increase bone density by signaling your bones to remodel and strengthen to withstand the force of landing from a running stride. In fact, landing from a stride puts roughly 10 times more force through your legs than walking, increasing the strength of your bones over time to absorb the extra pounding on your joints.
  7. Boost Your Mood: Get out of that funk with some activity! Running boosts endorphins, which helps elevate your mood. Endorphins are “feel-good” chemicals released by your brain that can create the euphoric feeling known as a “runner’s high.”
  8. Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes: Three hours of moderate to vigorous exercise that elevates your heart rate can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 46 percent. Physical fitness improves your sensitivity to insulin, meaning that your body clears away sugar from your bloodstream more effectively when you’re staying active.  
  9. Reduce Your Risk of Blood Pressure and Heart Disease: A routine running or jogging program improves overall cardiovascular health by increasing the elasticity of your arteries, which reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. A Harvard School of Public Health study found that those who ran for a minimum of one hour per week had a 42 percent decreased risk of developing coronary artery disease than those who remained more sedentary.
  10. Boost Your Immunity: Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Weekly moderate exercise helps boost the body’s immune system, warding off illnesses by boosting your body’s natural defense mechanisms.

Preventing Injury: Running Ritual Musts and the Importance of Stretching

These tips are essential for optimizing your running dexterity, whether you’re an indoor treadmill devotee, an outdoor roadrunner or a trail running enthusiast. In order to maintain healthy aerobic fitness without risking injury, it is important to train conservatively. Aggressive mileage right out of the gate can increase stress on your hip, knee and ankle joints, inviting injury. The key is to increase your mileage by no more than 10 percent each week, allowing your body to adjust to the increased activity and stress. The ideal mileage for maintaining cardiovascular health is 2-3 miles per day for 3-5 days per week.

To prevent injury, it is vital to wear proper running shoes that have been fitted to meet your specific body type, foot shape, fitness needs and gait pattern. If you’re an avid runner, you should replace your shoes every 4-5 months to avoid running without necessary arch support. If you’re a recreational runner that does not put in as many miles, you should replace your shoes every 6-7 months. A physical therapist can evaluate your gait pattern and foot shape to determine which type of shoe is right for you, and then you can get fitted at your local running store.

Warming up before you run with dynamic stretches for your hips, thigh muscles and calves help prepare your muscles for hitting the open road. Dynamic stretching helps elongate your muscles through their available range of motion while getting your blood pumping. Likewise, static stretching after running helps maintain flexibility and keeps your muscles extensible, decreasing post-run soreness.

If you experience any pain or discomfort while running, let Loudoun Sports Therapy Center help you today by calling 703-450-4300 to schedule an evaluation. Running through pain can lead to further injury and damage to muscles, tendons and ligaments, exacerbating existing injuries or causing new symptoms to occur.

Don’t let pain limit you! We care. We listen. We get RESULTS!  

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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