Benefits of Running
Before you get into your running routine, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the many benefits of the sport itself. Knowing why it’s good for you and how it is positively impacting your body can be very motivational. “There are so many benefits to your physical, mental, emotional and even social wellbeing,” Quigley says of running. “Many of these benefits can be achieved through so many different activities and sports, but one reason I love running is because it’s a pretty easy-to-access activity.”-
Here are some research-backed benefits that may motivate you to start running:
- Promotes a healthy heart: A 2014 study of over 55,000 adults found that running even five to 10 minutes per day at slow and moderate speeds below 6 mph was associated with significantly reduced risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.
- Enhances sleep: Moderate aerobic exercise, such as jogging, can improve sleep quality since it increases the amount of slow wave or deep sleep you can get where the body has a chance to rejuvenate. These are just some of the best Adderall alternatives.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: A recent large review highlighted several studies that showed a positive association between running and mental health. Specifically, three separate walking/jogging interventions that lasted 10 weeks each found reductions in anxiety and improvements in well-being compared to control groups.
- Assists with weight management: When complimented with a balanced diet, a running regimen can help support weight loss and weight maintenance. Not only does physical activity like running burn calories, but it also stimulates metabolism and can help regulate hunger hormones.
How to Start a Running Routine
Now that you know exactly why running is good for you, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the basics to get you going. Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you start your running journey:
- Check in with your healthcare provider: You’ll want to be sure to check in with your doctor or healthcare provider to discuss exercise and your overall health, especially if you haven’t had a physical in a while. Depending on your current state of health, you may need lab work or testing to determine whether or not it is safe for you to run.
- Properly warm up: Our fitness pros recommend starting your run with a brisk five to 10 minute walk to warm up the body and muscles. Some dynamic stretches are also ideal, which is when you actively tighten your muscles and move your joints through full range of motion throughout the stretch. Examples of dynamic stretches include knee hugs, leg swings and torso twists.
- Follow a training schedule: You can find a variety of free training schedules online for different running goals, and many running workout apps also offer curated programs led by trainers and athletes. A program can give you something to work towards and also hold you accountable. Running pros say it’s best for beginners to start with running two to three days a week for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time, as tolerated.
- Go slow: Quigley says that a lot of people tend to start their run too fast, which can lead to burning out quickly. “I like to always end faster than I started, so I start out nice and easy, allowing my body to get used to the feeling of running after just having been asleep or sitting down,” she says, adding that giving yourself that transition time to warm up and find your flow is key. “Then as you feel ready, start to drop the pace down gradually.”
- Try a walk-run approach: Especially if you are a beginner or a runner who is getting back into the groove after some time away from the sport, Quigley highly recommends a walk-run approach. “There’s no shame in taking walk breaks!,” she says. “If you can only run five minutes without stopping, but could run 10 minutes total if you broke it up into two minute segments with a one minute walk break in between, I’m totally in favor of squeezing more minutes of running out of yourself by taking those little breaks to stop, regather yourself, get your breathing back into control, and then run again.” The traditional walk-run method was developed by runner Jeff Galloway and involves planned walking breaks within your run. If you’re a beginner, you can start with alternating 30 seconds of running with two minutes of walking. If you repeat that eight times, and incorporate five minutes for both a warm-up and cool-down, you’ll have a well-rounded 30 minute exercise session complete.
- Take time to cool down: Just like you start your run with a short walk or jog, it’s a great idea to take a five to 10 minute walk at the end of your run to let your heart rate come down and properly cool down the body. Form can also be negatively impacted by sore and overworked muscles, so stretching post-workout is crucial. Then, you can engage in some light static stretching where you hold a stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds as tolerated. Some of the best stretches for runners include the hamstring stretch, quad stretch and the reclined figure-four stretch.