If you’ve been reading this blog for any measurable length of time, you know by now that I love running. Endurance running has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I’ve taken on in my life. Part of why I write about it so much is in the hopes that I encourage some of you out there to take the plunge and give it a try someday!
Running is one of those things that, before you’re into it, kind of sounds unbearable. It sounds long, sweaty, and uncomfortable. It’s strenuous. It makes you tired and out-of-breath if you’re not used it. While I see it as invigorating, others see it as...well, not so much.
Even if you’re not in a good relationship with running, I want you to know that you can have one. I want you to know that running can transform you, inside and out! These are just some of the ways endurance running affects your body.
4 Amazing Ways Endurance Running Affects the Body
1) It transforms your body composition.
Your body composition refers to five things: lean muscle, organs, fat, bone, and water. Most individuals want to see lean muscle increase and fat decrease. Running will get you that, but it will also boost your metabolism and bone density, something that is crucial your health as you age. To get the body composition that you want, it’s ideal to combine runs with weight training as well—it will help you obtain more lean muscle and boost your metabolism even further.
2) It actively fights depression.
The studies around running and depression are truly astounding. Running releases mood-boosting endorphins that help us feel happy and on that “runner’s high” that keep so many of us coming back for more. Even beyond that, though, is that running aids in our ability to hold on to serotonin and norepinephrine—neurotransmitters common in many antidepressant medications.
Studies show that people who run in calm, quiet places, such as in parks, by lakes, and in other green spaces experience brain activity similar to that seen in meditation. If you feel stressed, taking your run to the woods might be just what the doctor ordered.
In general, running just makes people feel happier and much more relaxed than people who don’t run.
3) It raises your resting metabolic rate.
For those of you out there who feel like you were never gifted with the ability to eat anything without consequence, running might be able to help. Running can, over time, raise your resting metabolic rate. Your caloric burn will increase, lasting even after your run has ended, and eventually carry on into an overall higher resting metabolic rate.
The longer you keep it up, the more your muscles adapt and grow in their efficiency. These strengthened muscles and a bolstered metabolism lead to improved organ health.
4) It helps your brain age gracefully.
As we age, many of us fear the deterioration of our bodies. Running has this proven benefit: it helps the brain as well as the body age gracefully. Not only does running help the brain grow, which increases our senses of sight and hearing and sharpens memory and learning skills, but it also helps us reverse age-related brain deterioration.
Studies show that middle-aged runners have more “plastic” brains than that of non-running counterparts and that they are more adept at memory tests, focus, and multitasking. Simply put, endurance running helps keep you sharper longer.
We also know that running helps give you fuel in the short term—providing energy, alertness, and attentiveness in the day-to-day that allows us to get tasks done.
At the end of the day, running benefits the whole body. While it may come with its frustrations and pains, the payoff is well worth it in the end. For me, running has transformed my body and my health.
At this point in my life, looking towards the future, I know that my health is one of the most important things to take care of. I want my life to be full and I never want my body to stop me from doing what I want to do. Running enables me to go down the paths that I want and to ensure that I will be here for my family. That’s an assurance that I wouldn’t trade for the world.