The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week.
As opposed to sitting on your couch watching TV, getting aerobic exercise supports heart health and can prevent cardiovascular disease later in life. If you’re looking for ways to step up your physical activity level, getting into running is an excellent option.
“Running can provide a lot of health benefits, and you don’t have to be a marathon runner to take advantage of them,” says Marissa Padilla, administrator at Castle Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “Find a routine that works for you so that you can stick with it, whether you run for a few miles or just go for a short jog.”
You’ll have no trouble working up to 150 minutes of weekly exercise with a daily run, but there is far more to gain from this activity.
Here are just a few of the health benefits running can offer:
Socially distant exercise
Count this among the things you wouldn’t have seen as a positive before 2020: Going for a run is one exercise you can do without getting too close to other people. So, while you might not be able to get inside a gym all the time, you can easily head out the front door for a run and still practice social distancing. Whether you are trying to avoid COVID-19, the flu or other illnesses, you can count on being able to run while staying within your own bubble.
Get better sleep
Running can help you get a better night’s sleep, and not just because exercise wears you out. Aerobic exercise has been found to increase the amount of deep sleep a person gets and deep sleep is important for a restful night’s sleep.
You might have heard of the “runner’s high,” and it turns out this high is no figment of the imagination. Exercise not only reduces stress, but it actually improves mood as well. When you exercise, adrenaline and cortisol levels in your body go down, which lowers stress levels. A good workout, like going for a run, also helps your body produce endorphins, which give your mood a boost.
Strengthen your joints
There is a misconception that pounding the pavement puts stress on your joints, but the opposite is actually the case. Running does not cause arthritis in your joints, and may actually help prevent joint damage. Physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, which takes stress off of your joints. Some research also shows exercises like running can help stimulate cartilage growth in joints.
Help your immunity
Running, like all exercise, can help your immune system fight off illness. Moderate intensity exercise sessions have been shown to improve immune system activity and make the body’s defense system stronger. Over time, regular exercise can keep inflammation down and may even slow down the natural aging of the immune system.
Even if you haven’t done any serious running since your physical education days in school, you can get started right away and enjoy immediate health benefits. Lace up your running shoes and hit the streets today.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.