Valley Journal
Valley Journal

A cure for what ails could begin with a good run

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Chances are good you’ve probably heard a runner rave about the almost endless health benefits one can enjoy from a long, sweat-inducing run. 

Well, it’s all true; there’s a plethora of documented scientific research and evidence that proves a vigorous run has very real and genuine health benefits that extend well beyond any pill a doctor may prescribe.

According to researchers, the health benefits of running include weight loss, lowering of high cholesterol levels, prevention of muscle and bone loss, the prevention of stroke, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. 

Additionally, running may also vastly improve the quality of your emotional and mental life, reduce stress, and aid in boosting the immune system.

“Running has allowed me to remain fit,” said six time Sorry ‘Bout That half marathon champion Jason Delaney. “Running has given me the opportunity to be able to enjoy other outdoor sports like skiing and hiking.”

Research has also shown that running improves good cholesterol levels, lung function, and decreases blood pressure. 

By burning up carbohydrates, fatty acids and surplus amounts of sugar present in the blood, a good run is a highly effective coronary exercise which helps the health and cleanliness of the blood vessels, thereby preventing diseases like diabetes and strokes from ever developing.

Running also greatly benefits your health, by lowering your blood pressure and helping to keep your heart muscle strong and cardiovascular system in a good functioning condition.

Want to reduce your risk of injury, fractures, and osteoporosis? Go for a run. 

As you run, you are adding extra weight and pressure to your bones and this stresses your bones. Your body responds to this extra workload by sending essential minerals to the bones, which makes them stronger and increases mass.

Running also aids in reducing age-related muscle and bone loss, by helping to keep the bones of your legs healthy and strong.

When most people think about the many health benefits of running, they usually think of running for weight loss. While running does indeed burn mega-calories like no other aerobic exercise, it can also aid in improving after-burn, which is the body’s ability to keep burning calories even after exercising has stopped and aid in the reduction of abdominal fat. Uncontrolled abdominal fat in most cases results in an increased probability of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Several studies, including a 2011 study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity, have shown that running has a definite impact on the psychological function of sleep.

Individuals who adhere to a consistent running routine exhibited quicker onset of sleep, deeper sleep and the reduction of symptoms in those with insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.

“Running makes me happy. That’s healthy, right?” veteran runner and Polson High School assistant x-country coach Jenni Brown said. “Running trails on foot through beautiful Montana alone makes a person happy, but add to that, the fact that running really releases endorphins to the brain and you have a no brainier.”

Running encourages the production and release of various feel-good hormones in the brain which causes the runner to experience an improved mood or a sense of euphoria or calm. This condition is commonly known as a “runner’s high.”

As a matter of fact, some people use running purposely to improve their mood and it is even recommended by some therapists as treatment to alleviate anxiety or decrease symptoms of depression.

Who said you can’t run away from your problems?

So, go ahead - lace up a pair of running shoes and start pounding the pavement to a healthier you.

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