Are you thinking about taking your first steps towards becoming a runner? Running has to be one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways to achieve a strong, slim body. Add to that, better concentration, creativity and clarity and you’re well on your way to becoming a runaway success in all aspects of your life! Whether your ambition is reaching the race day starting blocks or building up to a gentle jog around the block, our round-up of the top 10 benefits will convince you to hit the ground running.
Reason No.1 - Running Provides a Host of Health Benefits
When you consider all the health benefits of running, you’re bound to start reaching for your trainers. Who knew that something so simple and natural could potentially be so life changing?
Here are just some of the ways running may help boost your health:
- It can improve the health of your heart
- It can prevent high blood pressure
- It can help you to maintain a healthy weight
- It can tone and strengthen muscles
- It can build stronger bones
- It can improve digestion
- It can encourage better overall mental health
Reason No.2 - It Helps Stop Stress in its Tracks
From time to time, most of us will feel cranky and irritable from the stresses and hassles that everyday life can bring. Left to build up, however, too much stress in our lives can sap our energy, leaving us feeling exhausted. Running is an amazing way to release that pressure valve and put the spring back in our step. When we run, our bodies release endorphins – happy, feel-good hormones – that make us feel euphoric and exhilarated. Energy levels are lifted, fatigue leaves us, and we’re left with a lovely warm glow or buzz that seasoned runners refer to as ‘runner’s high’. During a run, think of sweat as stress leaving the body and see how refreshed and calm you feel afterwards!
Reason No.3 - It Helps Sharpen the Mind
Getting the heart rate up increases blood flow to the brain, delivering lots of oxygen and nutrients, which make for better mental clarity. Not only that, running gives you some alone time and space to think; a chance to get lost in your own thoughts and clear your head. You might find that the rhythm of your breathing helps you to achieve a meditative state. It’s during these ‘autopilot’ moments that you might suddenly come up with a solution to a problem or a bright, creative idea you’ve been struggling to think of. Running can help jog your memory too! A study by researchers at Brigham Young University in the US found that running can improve memory by protecting the brain against the negative effects of stress.
Reason No.4 - It Will Help You to Look Better
Without the use of a personal fitness tracker, it’s tricky to accurately say how many calories we burn when running, as it depends on lots of factors, but on average it’s thought to be 100 calories per mile. However you look at it, running is an extremely efficient way of torching calories, helping the body to tone up and, if you’re looking to lose weight, it won’t be long before you’re seeing the results you want on the scales. Running also boosts the metabolism, which means that after running, you’ll burn more calories, even when resting. You’ll also want to take an Insta selfie of yourself with that fresh, dewy post-run glow. With some studies showing that running slows the signs of ageing, you definitely won’t need a filter!
Reason No.5 - It’s Free
If you’re watching the pennies while losing the pounds, running is definitely for you. No costly gym memberships, no equipment required – just something comfy to wear, like shorts or leggings and a T-shirt, a good pair of trainers and, for women, a sports bra. Chances are you might already have these at home so dig them out and you’re all set to go. Of course, if you’re running in winter, you’ll need to wear reflective clothing to stay safe but apart from that, it’s a really inexpensive way to keep fit and the results are priceless!
Reason No.6 - It Fits into Busy Lifestyles
Running is super-flexible and no matter how busy your lifestyle is, there will be a way to slot it into your day. Unlike the gym, there’s no class timetable to stick to and no travel time getting there and back, all you need to do is grab your trainers and go. Combine it with walking the dog, squeeze in a session on your lunch break, or get off the bus early and run the extra distance home… make your fitness fit you! An early morning session before work will leave you feeling invigorated, energised and raring to go, or an evening run followed by a soothing bath will leave you feeling relaxed and ready for a great night’s sleep. Either way, you’re winning at life!
Reason No.7 - It Helps You Be at One With Nature
Considering how long most of us spend cooped up indoors or in the car, the freedom that comes from running outdoors is a breath of fresh air. Getting out and about in nature and exploring new areas is like having a little adventure. Every time you go out, whatever the weather you’ll spot something new that takes your breath away – the sun rising over the fields, flowers that signal the arrival of spring, or birds singing in the trees. You could take a photo on each run and make them into a photo collage as a way of logging your progress and remembering how amazing you felt.
Reason No.8 - It’s the First Step to New Friendships
If you’re looking to socialise with like-minded folk, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to run into plenty of new friends if you join a running club. There’s nothing quite like the camaraderie of running in a group, spurring each other on, sharing tips and maybe even a bit of friendly competition to break the ice. Before you know it, you’ll be part of a brand-new community. You could also check out parkrun.org.uk, where you’ll find details of free, weekly, timed runs near you. If you don’t feel ready for a club, team up with another beginner runner friend and download Public Health England’s One You Couch to 5K app (available on iOS and Android), which will take you from zero to 5km hero, in just nine weeks.
Reason No.9 - It Makes You More Aware of What You Eat…
You can definitely get away with enjoying a few more indulgences when you’re running. But chances are you’ll naturally want to focus on eating more healthily and won’t feel like consuming the treats that once made you feel tired and sluggish. If you’re a beginner runner, you don’t need to make drastic changes - simply aim to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg. It’s also really important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Running goes hand-in-hand with eating well and it won’t be long before you’re noticing your new shape and feeling great.
Reason No.10 - It Makes You Feel Invincible
The satisfaction and pride you’ll feel when you’ve pushed yourself and achieved a goal will make you feel on top of the world. Running will challenge you, help you discover hidden abilities, and make you feel like you can take on anything you set your mind to. As you become more ambitious with your training, your self-esteem and self-confidence levels will go through the roof – you’ll feel more successful, positive and more assertive. Remember, what you put into running you’ll reap in all other areas of your life, from the boardroom to the bedroom! What are you waiting for?
Put the fire under your feet with these top running tracks:
- Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People
- Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor
- Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
- Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac
- Pump It by The Black Eyed Peas
- Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson
- Beautiful Day by U2
- Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
Let us know your favourite running tracks in the comments section!
Please remember, your safety comes first. If you decide to run outdoors while wearing headphones, keep the volume low and avoid using noise-cancelling headphones.
Running may not be suitable for everyone. Before starting a new exercise regime, it’s always a good idea to consult with your GP first, especially if you have a health condition.