10 Benefits of Running, and How to Do It

“Running has never failed to give me great end results, and that’s why I keep coming back for more!”

- Sasha Azevedo

Man runningWhen you envision running, you probably will fall into one of two categories. Either you love it or you hate it; sometimes it is even a love/hate relationship. It’s painful, tedious, and exhausting. So what makes people love it? What makes people who hate it keep doing it? It is likely that the benefits of running outweigh the hatred (if there is any).


Many runners probably begin their running program with a physical goal foremost in their minds, like losing weight or toning their legs. These are definitely some potential benefits that come from running, but they’re not the only ones. One of the greatest benefits of a runner’s lifestyle is that it strongly contributes to overall health in so many ways. It could even be a way to meet people or to compete with others in races. Well, the fact is, running has a lot of benefits. And here’s a list of some of the best.

1. Win the battle of the bulge.

Many people start running in order to win the battle of the bulge. Whether they are obese or just want to lose that last ten pounds, or even if they just want to stay at the weight they are at, approximately 60 percent of runners start running to manage their weight. Running is one of the top activities for burning fat. In fact, with the exception of cross country skiing, running burns more calories per minute than any other form of cardiovascular exercise.

2. Prevent muscle and bone loss.

Our bones are made to accommodate the demands placed upon them. By sitting in front of the monitor all day many of us allow our bones to grow weaker, but by running regularly our skeleton gets the demand it needs to stay healthy. In addition to keeping our insides from aging quickly, regular, high-intensity exercise, like running, has also been proven to promote the human growth hormone, which celebrities have taken injections of for years to keep them looking young.

3. Fight disease.

Running reduces the risk of stroke and breast cancer. Regular running has become a treatment option for doctors to prescribe to patients who are at a high risk, or early stages, of osteoporosis, diabetes, and hypertension. It reduces the risk of heart attacks, by strengthening the heart and lowering blood pressure. Running maintains the elasticity of arteries incredibly well because as you run your arteries expand and contract nearly three times as much as usual.

4. Maintain and improve general health.

Running is one of the best activities most people can do to improve their health. It raises HDL (or “good”) cholesterol, reduces the risk of blood clots, and encourages use of the 50 percent of your lungs that usually go unused. Running also boost the immune system by creating a higher concentration of lymphocytes (white blood cells that attack disease).

5. Get confident.

Jogging builds confidence and self-esteem like few other individual sports can. It allows the runner to defeat trial after trial, growing stronger and more sure of themselves with each footstrike. It allows you to truly climb hills and clear obstacles. It provides a feeling of empowerment and freedom that comes with knowing that your legs and body are strong and capable. Confidence is even more a product of running for those who lose weight and gain a better self-image through running.

6. Stress relief.

This is another huge benefit of jogging. Whether by allowing you the time to think about life’s problems or time to escape them for awhile, tension easily flies by the wayside as you fly over the miles. Distance runs are great for solving headaches and problems that are nagging at you. What could be better than a three hour run all by yourself to clear your mind and allow you to pin down an answer? Speed runs are great for tearing through aggression and anger. Focus all that emotion into a few sprints and you’ll feel better in no time.

7. The famous “Runner’s high.”

Aside from just the stress relief, jogging has also been proven to improve attitude. Running, especially outside and on trails, creates a release of endorphins that can cause euphoria (runner’s high) or just a general sense of happiness. Running has been used for years to treat clinical depression and addictions of all kinds. Less tension, less depression, less fatigue, and less confusion are just a few of the changes that patients have seen after beginning a regular running program. Running gives something for them to focus on, allowing them to see something besides their depressed state or addiction.

8. Train your mind.

Along that line, running can help train the mind as much as it trains the body. By making yourself overcome the obstacles that running brings, you learn focus and determination. The will and strength that gets your body through long runs or those runs you’d much rather skip is what in turn strengthens your mind and gives you focus and determination in other areas of your life.

9. Improve coordination.

Another worthwhile benefit which may be gained from running. This may seem surprising to many who assume it is not possible to gain these types of benefits from running simply because it is such a simple sport. However, there is some coordination involved in running. Trail running which involves running on unpaved trails especially requires a great deal of coordination. The uneven surface combined with obstacles such as rocks and tree roots can make trail running quite difficult. However, runners who regularly run on these types of services, quickly learn to maintain better control over their bodies to prevent tripping and stumbling while running.

10. Versatility.

Not many sports can be done almost anywhere with almost no gear. I’m sure the ancient Greeks would argue that even shoes and clothes aren’t required, as their Olympians were quite the minimalists. Today, we just need a good pair of running shoes and off we go. From urban sidewalks to rural trails and all the real estate in between, the world is loaded with places for runners to explore. Travel a lot? There’s always room in your suitcase for a pair of sneakers. The world is your gym, go re-discover it.

Starting a running program is far simpler than most people believe. If you’re new to running or have any health impairments, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your doctor to be sure you are healthy and ready to start. Then, find a good pair of running shoes, get off the couch and… go!

STEPS TO EFFICIENT RUNNING

  • Run tall. Gravity and weak core muscles cause many runners to “fold” in the middle when their feet land. This sitting-down movement wastes energy. Imagine that wires are attached to your shoulders, pulling you up slightly. Thrust your hips forward a bit and think “stability” when your foot hits. It’s easier to run tall if you’ve worked your core properly.
  • Relax. Tension in your arms, shoulders, neck, and face reduces efficiency. Arms and fingers should be loose. Unclench your hands and let your jaw jiggle.
  • Breathe right. Your breathing should be rhythmic and deep, and you should feel your diaphragm, not your chest, doing the work. Exhale with controlled force. When you pick up the pace, don’t let your breathing get shallow.
  • Land on the midfoot. A heel-first landing is a brake. It means you’re extending your leg out too far in front of your center of gravity, so it takes more energy to move forward. And it’s shaky, so your muscles are working on stabilization instead of forward motion. Shorten your stride. It’ll feel odd at first, like shuffling, but once you get used to it, focus on thrusting backward with force.
  • Run softly. The louder your footfalls, the less efficiently you’re running. Try running more quietly; you’ll be unconsciously switching to a midfoot strike and a shorter, quicker stride.
  • Swing symmetrically. Check your form on a treadmill in front of a mirror. If one arm is bent more than the other or swings more, you have a musculo-skeletal imbalance that can slow you down. Target the weaker side with strength and flexibility exercises.

WARNINGS

  • Always stretch after you run. It may not seem like you need to stretch after, but it helps you get rid of lactic acid, which is what makes your muscles ache! In addition, stretching your muscles will allow them to become stronger/faster. Also, by stretching after your run, you need not worry that you are stretching cold muscles. Pre-run stretching, while not inherently unsafe, is more likely to cause injury if not preceded by a warm-up.
  • Don’t feel pressured to continue faster than you’re able. Repeat weeks and move ahead only when you feel you’re ready.
  • Don’t skip the warm-up, and be sure to walk for a bit when you’ve finished, to allow your body time to cool down gradually.
  • Always consume adequate amounts of fluids before, after, and during (if runs last more than 45 minutes or so) your runs, especially in the heat. If you feel at all thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Running truly requires the least equipment and planning of all exercise. Grab your shoes, a couple of running buddies, and head outside. You’ll be looking and feeling better in no time.

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64 Comments

  • Paul says:

    Hi,

    I’m sorry if this feels a little misplaced, but I noticed you mentioned that breast cancer rick can be reduced by running which is great! (and a great segue way)
    thyat we’re spreading the word that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that my company, 1-800Free411 is donating $1 for every new caller in October (up to $25,000) and will go to the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund. Please help…we have to make more progress to hit our goal!

    For all the details and to “Pass the Ribbon” about important health information to family and friends, go to http://www.Free411/pink

    My best wishes to all,
    Paul

  • Lodewijkvdb says:

    This is truly a helpful post for someone who just started running. Tomorrow is my fourth run since I started last week, and it’s great to see so many benefits to it.

    I was already changing pace to see what runs better. It’s amazing what a difference technique makes, even for beginners.

  • Rick says:

    Good stuff. At 40, I tried to train for a 5k this past summer, but my ankles wouldn’t hold up to it. Too bad, too…I was getting in shape and feeling really good about it. I got on my bike instead and haven’t looked back.

  • Julian says:

    I am really worried about the winter. Because it’s going to be so cold and I don’t really have propper equipment to fight it (and my inner temptation to stay in the warmth). But the gym is either too crowded (the uni gym) or too expensive (all others). I really wonder how to manage running in the winter.Besides the gym-idea, I think running on a treadmill is so boring, I prefer running outside on a nice track in the park so much more. But that is unfortunately so painful in the winter.

    Any suggestions? Probably it’s going to boil down to buying some winter-proof gear.

    • TDH says:

      if your worried about the cold, then jog in place (in the warmth of your home) till you get hot and sweaty. then go out side and run!

      • Louis says:

        I dont have much running gear for the winter. I don’t mean to sound harsh but I’m sure you can find something some old sweatpants and an old hoodie. It may feel cold at first but once you start running your body heats up quick. Besides not having running gear isn’t an excuse. I’m sorry if i come off a little rude, but there should never be an excuse to go workout.

    • Josephine Berg says:

      Get thermals! Problem solved :)

  • claire says:

    Julian – just get out there – nothing makes you feel better than running in hail storms – it just makes you feel superhuman!

  • Matt says:

    I know I can run for a mile in freeziing 30 degree weather, now tell me how I know that. Because, I’m Jason Bourne. LOL. Kidding.

    Great post mate. I need to pick up my habit again. Stopping by after a long time. Keep up the great work on your website. IMHO a really good blog.

  • Karl says:

    I am 14 years old and have never trained for running.

    Yesterday I ran the 100 meters in 13.09 Seconds.

    Is that a good time?

    Please let me know.

    • TDH says:

      yes, that is. everyone in my class does it 2 a year. i got 9.9 seconds. even the mental kids im my class did better!!! i dont mean to be mean but you need to RUN!!! :D

      • Chloe says:

        Usain? Didn’t know you used these sites! 9.58 seconds is the men’s world record so please forgive me if I am HIGHLY skeptical of that 9.9 secs time…

    • Carli says:

      That’s a really good time for a fourteen year old! I’m a freshman(14 too) and last year in track the best 100 meter time was 11.4 seconds for girls and 10.02 seconds for boys. on average most people on the track team got around 15 seconds though, so you’re doing really good. keep it up!

  • davesworkout says:

    Nice list, I agree with the whole “train your mind” idea, it gives you both a sense of accomplishment and pride but also gives you the mental capacity to take on daunting tasks. When i do my long runs I tend to get a lot of problems solved in those long stretches of trail. I just need to get a little tape recorder so i can remember them all!

  • p.s.shashidhar says:

    Sir,
    I am a heart patient had a myocardial infaraction 21 years back, not operated and healthier now. I am aged 49 years now can i run with out any side effect to my heart
    shashidhar

  • dave says:

    i absolutely love running, used to be a 300lb “big guy” (i am 6’3) but now with a year of running and eating right im down to almost 200!

  • xio says:

    Hey! Love the post, even though it was posted over a year ago :)

    That being said I have two non-blog related pieces of advice; first, your “leave a comment” section will erase anything your readers have written if the field loses focus and then regains focus (grumblegrumble… ^^ although you can ctrl-z to undo the delete).

    Secondly, your anti-spam measures aren’t quite working. I’d suggest using a CAPTCHA instead of (or in addition to) your current anti-spam measures. Something like re-CAPTCHA helps the effort of digitizing old books while also keeping you clear of spam. http://recaptcha.net/

    I love this blog post because it encourages this admittedly lazy nation to get off its rear :)

    Cheers,

    xio

  • xio says:

    Hey! Love the post, even though it was posted over a year ago :)

    That being said I have a non-blog related piece of advice; your “leave a comment” section will erase anything your readers have written if the field loses focus and then regains focus (grumblegrumble… ^^ although you can ctrl-z to undo the delete).

    I love this blog post because it encourages this admittedly lazy nation to get off its rear :)

    Cheers,

    xio

  • Jason C. says:

    Hi, Here is the solution to winter running: Buy something called YakTrax. Google ” Yak Trax ” and you will get a ton of results. Off the top of my head, you can buy them from Amazon.com, herringtoncatalog.com, and a ton of other places on the internet.
    I’m a runner and I’ve found that they work pretty well in the ice & snow. Be sure to buy the ones with the velcro strap over the top especially if you’re a runner. If you run with them, you’ll find that they’re not indestructible or perfect. Often, when I get back from a run I’ll find that one of them slipped or was jostled halfway off. And the coils and rubber structure will break in certain places. But if you have to buy 2 pairs over one winter, it’s still worth it. Buying these gives you the freedom to run the a harsh winter. Trust me, I’m using them this winter!
    Good Luck,
    Jason

  • CC says:

    No that’s a bad time!!! i’m 12 and i can run it in 13.02!!!

  • Sai says:

    Hi ,
    Im just new to running and i do not hav much place to run!!!
    I did Aerobics and left it a month Ago !!
    I suffered very severe hormonal Imbalances !! And im now on medication but doctors insist me to do some workouts!!
    Can i start running??? initially how do i start with it??
    what sort of warm ups and stretch i need to do??
    Can i do cycling and running???
    initially how much should i run like 10 mins 0r 20 non stop or can i take a break there r so many questions !!!
    Plz help me

    • Carli says:

      running is a great way to exercise. when you start out, go REALLY slow. so slow that someone power walking could be at the same speed as you. this will allow you to keep up that speed for a while. if you feel like you need a break, take a break. there is nothing wrong with that. make sure you drink lots of water, and keep yourself hydrated all the time, not just when you’re running or about to run. as you get better you can speed up gradually or start running for longer amounts of time.

  • trupz says:

    so true – that running has a love hate relationship. Before u have to start u hate it but when u do , u simply love it!!!
    Im inspired to hit road again, please do mention that appropriate running gear also adds to the fun in the run …..

  • Genevieve Scholtes says:

    Hey hey! Okay,funny thing is that I just came home from a run and I feel awesome! I’m 16 and have been running since I was 14, it makes me feel so confident like you said. I’m not new at running, but I just wanted to know all the benefits and the ten you listed are awesome! Thank you for sharing them!

  • Lucy says:

    I’ve been a runner for many years, but I’m also active in the medical field. I wanted to correct a common mistake you’ve made: you aren’t already dehydrated when you start to feel thirsty. You are approaching dehydration, but if you only felt thirsty when you were in dire need of water, your body wouldn’t be doing its job!

  • tina says:

    l have tried running before. then stop cause l didnot like it. then l start running really slow like almost walking, now been two months and l look forward to my days. i thinks its nice when the body tell u or pushes u to run. Am hoping to get to the 21 marks when i do that then l know l will contine to run. Am taking one day at time.

  • Angel says:

    Cool stuff! very unique and helpful info for assignments!
    Thanks! :)

  • K. FARLEY says:

    I am almost fourteen and I run from time to time, I do play a ton of sports though. I really found this article great…only, I don’t feel like losing any weight…anywho, I’m running tomorrow before school and will keep this blog in my mind. Thanks.

  • Md.Kaiser says:

    today i start running but problem is i can not do it regularly.my running purpose is weight loss.my weight 82kg.moreover i always going through mental distress for many reason.but read out ur running benefits this page i ll able to overcome my problem.

  • Michell says:

    I just started running 2 weeks ago and I run 4.5 miles a day on my treadmill. I have become addicted to it, and its the first thing i do when i get home from work, I love the fact that I have lost 7 lbs so far in 2 weeks from running.

  • Sandhi Sikder says:

    I’m going to start running regularly from November-1,2010.
    I’ll leave my experience after a year.

  • RAKESH KAPUR says:

    I WAS A BADMINTON PLAYER AND WAS A MASTER IN MY GAME. BUT, DUE TO AN INJURY TO MY LEFT KNEE I DISCONTINUED THE GAME. NOW I FEEL A WEAKNESS IN MY LEGS. BUT RECENTLY I TRIED TO START RUNNING AND AFTER A FEW DAYS OF RUNNING, I FEEL THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF POSITIVES IN MY BODY.

  • cali says:

    tommorow me also my 5th day of runing in my university compus
    but i have problem, iam so busy in my studies so i like to run constantly, so tell me please common distance that i will run every day

  • Running has been known to humans ever since we lived on earth. We ran because of chasing after food, we ran because of rushing to battle and sometimes we ran for our life.

    Running is a basic skill that everyone knows how to do. Without running, we might as well be chased after by lions or something.

    Anyways, running improves your stamina. The more you run, the more you can endure, the longer hours you can go.

    What’s better about running is you stimulate your muscles into contracting causing you to lose weight and help you(hopefully) get over smoking and drinking lots of beer.

  • Omar Osta says:

    i would like to add on the benifits of jogging that you have a really good feeling when you eat food and having a more relaxed mind of not geting fat…. I’m a great fan of food espacially junk food :) soo my solution for that was jogging… I can say that i could eat anything and still have a healthy strong body. I advice anyone to make a plan like i did espacially food lovers like me, this way can prevent the food from destroying the body.

  • j Miller says:

    Very nice blog. I’m a veteran runner and although my metabolism has slowed considerably since I was in my 20′s, running has significantly contributed to my health and trim wasteline. Best of luck to all in your running endeavors.

  • sparrow says:

    I started running 3 weeks ago now. It is incredible how much my endurance has changed and that I went from having to stop and walk all the time to being able to do three miles straight! The body is so adaptable.

  • Ronal Andadinata says:

    You forget one more benefit, that is, improved sexual performance. I can personally vouch for this :)

  • jonathan says:

    Very good information, Thank you!

  • Kerri says:

    For those of you unsure of how to go about starting a running routine, especially if you’ve never run before, there is an awesome app for iPhone/iPod (maybe even for Droid phones, haven’t checked). It is called C25K, which stands for Couch to 5 kilometers (3 miles). It starts you out slowly with a 5 minute warm-up, then run for 1 minute, walk for 90 seconds, and alternate between the two until you have done this for about 20 minutes, then a 5 minute cooldown. It gives you voice prompts to let you know when to run/walk. It also allows you to play your own music from within the app, or multitask Pandora or a radio app. You only do the program 3 days a week, so it’s not overwhelming. Each week it changes up the workout, adding longer times of running, working up to 3 miles after 9 weeks. I am on week 4 right now, and feel great! I have never been a runner before, and it does a great job of helping you build up the strength and stamina that is needed for running distances.

  • nzeerah says:

    you that none of your answer make any sense. please post up something better please change it.don`t shame your self next time.where they pick you`ll from..

  • Brace Face says:

    I started running last year all summer but stopped because I got stressed out. This summer I have started back again and I am moving to a building where there is an fitness room (awesome). It’s been a week or so since I have been running and I have noticed that I have lost weight on my stomach, and my love handles are melting away, and my saddle bags. I am 5 ft 5, weigh 98 lbs, I was born thin, but I let myself go by eating junk and not exercising in the past. I started to get some flab on my hips and belly was looking bloated. Now that I am running an hour every night after dinner, I am looking leaner and leaner everyday, I feel great after my run, and I still eat what I want. You can eat what you want but you have to burn it off or you will pack it on. best of luck to all of you runners out there. Even after I lose my flab I plan on keep running for my overall health.

  • aroon says:

    it took me 5 months of rigorous walking 2hrs a day to get into shape for running and once the running started, i hate walking :)its so slow, am running 7 miles a day and feeling proud to be able to run again, never thought it wld be possible.

  • AUstin D. Leach says:

    hey!! I have problems staying focused uring work standing on my feet eight hours a day not only is it physically demanding it also mentally demanding. i find running so much good for my health. i can almost last 71/2 hours.

  • Neha says:

    AwESOME! I can tell you, as a sunner, that each point is true. The most important one for me is the confidence Running has giving me unbelievable confidence that has transformed ny non-running life to make it more easier and positive. LOVE LOVE LOVE running!

  • Road Runner says:

    Meeeeeeeeep! Meeeeeeeeeep! I just luv running, I run three times a week aproximately 15 miles, but what I love most is the post run you know the feeling of euphoria after a run not to mention the endorphin high everybody is talking about.

    Live Long and Prosper! And oh yeah, lace up those shoes and run!!!

  • Robbie says:

    I have been running long distance my whole life. I started at 18 and I am now 53. I did take a year off and am back to long distance running. I can testify that everything the OP writes is absolutely true. You didn’t mention how much of an athlete you become in bed. You wont ever need Viagra…

  • ismatullah says:

    write shortly the advantages of running.

  • Faizan says:

    Running is such a great exercise. I’ve been running for roughly a year and a half now and its helped me manage my weight, its uplifted my mood, improved my body shape, and has made me a lot less lethargic. Highly recommend, oh and PS. If you’re a young person in their late teens and early 20′s reading this. Throw away that joint and go for a run instead, you’ll feel alot more chill afterwards ;)

  • Craig says:

    Brilliant posting.. Keep on running and I encourage all to do so. Someone mentioned earlier about running in the cold, wet and hale storms, these are actually the best times to run / cycle as you stay focused and gives you a real sense of achievement afterwards. Never have I felt the cold, get your self a cheap pair of running tights, and a light weight top / jacket, running shoes and your off.

  • flakefrost says:

    Thanks for the info!

  • Salina Rout says:

    i just love this……..its really working…..thanks for your information :))

  • Sam Bermingham says:

    I did a 10km run at my school on every Monday and Friday I love ruining every Fiday

  • Ash says:

    I just started running 2 weeks ago.. My aim for the moment is to cover 3.3 miles around a lake in less than 30 minutes, today was my first go and managed 33 minutes but I had to walk a bit.. I am a smoker of approx 10 p/d sometimes I do less sometimes I do more, but if I can get this time down to 28 minutes I will be happy. This is my goal and I want to reach that within the next 2 weeks.. I have 2 months in total to loose the belly fat I have and get this 6 pack thing, I have a 4 pack atm, 2 weeks ago I had a big 1 pack, so far so good! :) wish me luck all!!!

  • Deepak Gregrath says:

    I started running to loss some weight but discovered a whole lot of benifits
    Keep running

  • Michelle95 says:

    this is truley real! omg. :O

  • Robertson000 says:

    I HATE RUNNINH!!!!!!!45

  • paulos says:

    I LOVE UR ADVICE

  • sudhir kothyari says:

    running releif from stress it main advantage

  • Brandon says:

    I agree that there are really only two types of runners; those who need a reason to run, and those who need a reason not to. No matter what the reason, we can all surely benefit from running. I think it’s interesting how many people don’t take advantage of these benefits. Getting started wasn’t easy for me, but today I am pretty much unstoppable. I put in 20-30 miles a week, just for fun. I also like to run marathons. I have found that this is yet another benefit because it allows me an opportunity to meet people and build relationships. Overall, running has completely changed my life and I encourage everyone to try it for themselves. Here’s a few more benefits: http://www.forkstofeet.com/2013/05/6-benefits-of-running.html

  • Kate says:

    love to hit the road again! Good benefits indeed! Thanks for the info! Love to run! :)

  • RAVI KUMAR says:

    When rainy season what to do

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