Long distance running to most people does not sound like a fun activity. The miles upon miles of pounding on the roads and trails can get tiring; not to mention the mental and physical pain associated with it. Long distance running at any intensity, whether as a beginner or a professional, has many great health benefits for the overall health and well being. Scientists have even proven that regular exercise (running in particular) about 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week has enormous health benefits. Below I will explain how running improves your overall well-being in four different ways.
Running Helps With Building Confidence: Not all of the positive effects of running are physical. Running can also help your overall confidence. By setting goals, maintaining the daily training and achieving those goals you can increase your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment; often leaving you feeling much happier and confident in yourself. Looking back on my own experience heading into high school, I looked to running and its accomplishments, which greatly boosted my confidence as a shy, naive high school student to make friends and fit in.
Running Eases Anxiety: Have you ever had a tough day at school, or been worried about an upcoming presentation or big exam? Running may be the last thing you feel like doing when you are experiencing these, but when you run you force your mind to focus on something outside of the problems. While running your body exerts excess energy and hormones, which help to alleviate stress and make you feel more relaxed. Running on a daily basis will help you to address anxiety. In my own experience as a NCAA athlete, running helped me not only to live a more healthy stress free lifestyle, it also gave me a nice break from the day to think about my studies without all of that other stuff around me.
Running Burns Calories: Running is one of the best exercises for weight loss as running burns a lot of calories. The effects of running on the body far outweigh any pills or fad diets for losing weight. It is also healthier and does not have any side effects. You are also able to make adjustments, by increasing or decreasing the intensity of your runs or running on flat or hilly surfaces. Increasing or decreasing the total time of your runs can also increase the amount of calories lost. At the University of Tulsa, in peak season I was running so much mileage that I had a very low body fat count. I did not worry about eating too much (as some competitive athletes might depending on their sport) as most of the calories would be burned off on the next run anyways.
Running Is Good For Your Heart: Running on a regular basis will increase your cardiovascular endurance. Through running, your heart gets more efficient. Running not only increases cardio endurance, but also reduces the risk of certain conditions and diseases. Running has also proven to reduce the risk of a heart attack and decreases your chance of getting heart disease.
In my next blog post, I will write more about my athletic-academic journey as I continue my series – An Athletically Inspired Educational Journey.