Many people are skeptical about the benefits of running. Doesn’t running make you all sweaty? Doesn’t it put you at higher risk for all kinds of injuries? Doesn’t all that pounding on your joints actually make you age faster in the long term? Can’t you develop a heart palpitation that could end up killing you? And what about that Jim Fixx guy — just look at what happened to him because of running!
Sad to say, these are modern myths and anecdotes conjured up by people who live in a sedentary society of spectators. There are even some world-class athletes and “expert” medical doctors who insist that if you run for more than two miles at a time you’re a nut case. We humans are the only creatures that go for endurance and not short bursts of sprint speed, they argue, and so we are doing something un-natural. By the way, that’s simply not true; wolves, for instance, are known to be able to travel 100 miles in a single day–that’s endurance, not sprinting.
As far as the “Jim Fixx” anecdote goes: it was not running that killed him, although it’s true that he had a heart attack and died while running and was only in his early 50s. The true problem was that Fixx had a genetic illness that went undetected and undiagnosed — ironically, because running made him so healthy and energized otherwise, that he didn’t go to the doctor!
Now, I am not saying to never see a doctor. But those are two of the incredible health benefits of running: increased energy and just an amazing feeling of overall health and wellness. Neither one of these perceptions is an illusion, either. Who is to tell you that running is not doing that for you when you are obviously both feeling and acting more energized and you know it’s not from any substance, legal or illegal?
How can running make you feel overall healthy and fit? Because it really does make you feel that way. Sure, there are other great exercises that you can do, too, and I certainly feel that cross-training is wondrous for you, but running is long since proven to be one of the greatest health-enhancers that anyone can use. Far from killing you early, running can prevent premature aging and premature death!
A study conducted over two decades found some interesting facts and some good evidence that running can slow the ageing process. People over 50 who run regularly have a longer active life, reduce the risk of dying early and have fewer disabilities. The study tracked 538 people over 50 who ran several times a week since 1984. This group was compared to non-runners. Interestingly enough, as the people grew older, the health difference between the runners and non-runners grew bigger, continuing even when people went over 90 years old! The health benefits of running were even bigger than has generally been assumed already.
The proven benefits of running are many. Running increases mental clarity and concentration, including a better memory and prevention of age-related mental degeneration. It increases self-confidence. Running also makes one look better. Regular runners look many years younger than they are, and they are sexier because they are not overweight, inflexible, or hunched over when they walk.
There are also other benefits of running. Running increases the energy for any task — including other forms of working out or playing a sport. It causes sound sleep and makes people feel more relaxed in stressful situations. It is a healthy way to lose weight. Running enhances cardiovascular health and increases physical strength and endurance.
Another benefit of running is that it makes you feel “higher” about life and helps to give you a more positive attitude. Running is even prescribed as a cure or a way to battle clinical depression!