Running Good for your Health?
People who want to start running are looking for the reasons why running is good for your health. Runners also want confirmation that running, amid some of the bad press that surrounds different sports, really isn’t as bad as the press makes it out to be.
So what is the truth?
The truth is that running can be good and running can be bad for your health.
Knowing the good and the bad of running will help you prevent what is bad and revel in the good.
Let’s start with the aspects about running that are good, in fact really good for your health.
Firstly running reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. This is the number one killer of women.
In the Nurses Health Study conducted between Harvard Medical School and Brigham the Women’s Hospital researchers found that women who were most active had a heart attack rate that was 44% less than women who were sedentary. (1)
Running has other good effects on the risk of cardiovascular disease. These include strengthening the heart muscle, reducing the risk of clots , preventing the hardening of arteries, lowering triglycerides and cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol. HDL is the good cholesterol
Research published by Dr. Williams at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California found that the runners who enjoyed high mileage weeks had the highest effect on raising the HDL while those who concentrated on speed work had the effect on lowering their triglycerides. (2)
Running also reduces a person’s heart rate and blood pressure. This a happens as a result of the heart muscle becoming stronger and the less hardening of the arteries which causes high blood pressure.
Most good cardiovascular exercises like running, reduce the risk of stroke which is the second leading killer of women. The risk of stroke is reduced by the lower blood pressure and a strong cardiovascular system. Studies have also shown that physical activity will lower the risk of breast cancer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that those who were most active had a 37% lower risk of breast cancer compared to the group of women who are sedentary.
Physical exercise also improves the immune system. Researchers have found higher levels of lymphocytes in the blood during and after exercise. These are white blood cells that attack disease. It appears that these cells multiply during physical activity to protect the body. This effect can also be negative when the runner does a high mileage, such as in a marathon. The lymphocytes are depleted after these activities and this can leave the athlete open to viral infections
Running and other physical activities help diabetics to control their blood sugar, and also keeps the intestinal tract running regularly. Running enhances and strengthens your respiratory system and also helps to ease menstrual and post menopausal symptoms. lastly Running helps prevent bone loss associated with age and so protects against osteoporosis.
As you can see there are many reasons that running is good for your health however there are several things that may have a negative impact on your health as well.
Lets get something clear running does not have to be bad knees, torn cartilage and ripped tendons. If you run to stay fit, say about 30 minutes several times each week, then you don’t have anything to worry about.
On the other hand, when you push your body beyond these limits you are heading for performance and performance is more than just fitness, it pushes you body to the limit. This pushing your body can result in damaged cartilage, torn tendons and will potentially increases your risk of arthritis.
Of course Knowing these risks will help you prevent the damage by protecting your joints through doing stretches and strengthening those muscles that support the ankle, knee and hip joints. It is very important that You listen to your body and when it is telling you it has had enough then listen to what your body is saying and don’t push. It can be fun to run a couple of 10K races but unless your aspirations and talents, have you heading towards the Olympics then choosing fitness may be your best option.
If you are looking for some advice on how to start your running program….There’s a running program out there now that can help…
The guy who put this fantastic running program for beginners together is an experienced personal trainer from the UK called Jago Holmes and you can find out all about his training program for beginners here.
(1) Nurses Health Study Newsletter
(2) Berkeley Lab: National Runners Health Study: Fleetest are Healthiest
Active: 10 Reasons Running is Good for You
Training Peaks: A Runners Guide to Fabulous Abs
BeliefNet: 6 Reasons Why Running Keeps You Happy and Healthy
Runners World: Why Trail Running is Good for You
Boston: Is Running the Boston Marathon Good for You
MensHealth: Are You Running Yourself to Death
NHS: Running and Walking Both Good for Your heart
Harvard School of Public Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity