Top 5 Hidden Benefits of a Running Exercise Program

Five Hidden Benefits of Running That You May Not Know

man running for exercise

Running is a favored pastime and chosen activity for weight loss. Everyone knows that running burns a lot of calories and improves endurance.

Many people start a running exercise program to prepare for a race, to get in shape or to maintain their health, but running provides additional benefits you may not have considered.

Here are what I consider to be some of the top hidden benefits of running. Enjoy!

The Top 5 Hidden Benefits of a Running for Exercise

1. Longevity

Running could extend your life. Research shows that engaging in cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes or more on three to five days per week can help people live six years longer. Consider this anytime you are in need of motivation to get out and run.

2. Stress management

If you have never experienced a running high, you are in for a treat. Running stimulates the release of brain chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine that enhance your mood. Not only will you feel better as you run, your “high” can last up to a day afterward. Following a running exercise program provides a regular boost to your mood.

Running is also a great way to forget about stressors in your life. The exertion brings you into the moment, giving your mind a break from worrying about things or feeling negative emotions such as disappointment, loneliness or sadness. By the time you are done, you should be sweaty and red-faced, but oddly happy and serene.

3. Boosts Brain Function

Running may actually improve your memory and spatial awareness. Research shows that the part of your brain called the hippocampus is most affected by running. This area is related to memory and learning. A study on mice found that those who voluntarily ran on their wheels experienced an increase in brain cells and did better on tests for spatial learning. Spatial learning allows you to navigate through unfamiliar territory and be aware of where objects are in the new space.

4. After Burn

Running utilizes calories while you do it, but it also causes you to burn extra calories afterward. The average person burns around 470 to 650 calories in 60 minutes when running at 5 mph. Yet for every 100 calories you burn on a run, you can expect to burn another 15 calories post workout.

5. The Power of Sunlight

Most people who follow a running exercise program prefer to be outdoors. Running outside during the day is not only safer because cars can see you, but it also gives your skin the chance to soak up the sun. Your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. How much it makes depends upon the strength of the sun and the color of your skin, plus how much skin you expose. A fair skinned person running at midday gets around 10,000 international units of vitamin 10 in only 10 minutes, if wearing shorts and a tank top but no sunscreen.

People with low vitamin D levels are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers stated that less time outdoors is a main reason people could have low vitamin D levels. Spending time outdoors also fights seasonal affective disorder and may reduce anxiety and stress.

Final Thoughts

In many ways, running makes you feel better mentally and emotionally. Consider these top 5 hidden benefits of a running exercise program if you are on the fence about getting started.

Author Profile: Sarka-Jonae Miller

Author's Website Sarka-Jonae Miller is a personal trainer, massage therapist, and the author of the novel "Between Boyfriends." Sarka writes articles on health, fitness, wellness, travel, weight loss, and more.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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