Benefits of Running You May Not Have Considered

Everyone knows they should exercise. There is so much scientific evidence to show that exercise is good for your health. Regular exercise can significantly reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease. I would like to talk about some benefits of running that I have personally observed and are not commonly known.

I have been running since 2006. I began running because I wanted to start some form of exercise. My motivation was primarily for health benefits. I picked running as my form of exercise for its simplistic elegance. All you need to run is a good pair of shoes, you can do it just about anywhere, and you don’t need an expensive gym membership to just run. Running appealed to me because the time to prepare is short. You can change into your running outfit and step outside to run very quickly. I know my nature. If there is a large preparation time to do something, like having to drive to the gym, the chances of me sustaining the habit is lower.

So with the reasoning that running would benefit my health and is so simple, I literally just started running around my neighborhood without any knowledge of what I was doing. Slowly, I started to pick up some knowledge about running. I got better shoes, and I learned about injury prevention. But to this day, I would not consider myself a serious, competitive runner. I run about 10 miles a week at a relaxed pace. I keep running because I love it. In fact, health is no longer the primary motivation. Health is like a bonus motivation now. What keeps me running are these other benefits I have observed.

I have observed that running will enhance my mood. I feel great when I run regularly. I feel best right after my run, and this feeling will last for hours, and even days after the run. When I get back from a run, my love for my family increases dramatically. This can sometimes be funny. I want to hug my family when I get back, but they refuse because I am all sweaty. When I run, I also seem to have more energy overall. I feel more enthusiastic about doing things.

This testimonial observation of enhanced mood is now backed by science. The American Psychiatric Association is now including exercise as a treatment recommendation for major depressive disorder. Studies have shown this connection between mood and exercise.

I have observed that running will enhance my mental performance. When I run regularly, I can think more clearly, and solve problems faster. This is a great benefit since my occupation is purely intellectual. I can perform better at my job. But improved mental function helps with my personal life as well. Running gives my brain a small turbo boost.

This testimonial observation of enhanced mental performance is also backed by science. This connection between improved mental performance and exercise began surfacing in the early 2000s. Now, there are tons of studies to prove the connection. But I don’t need studies to know this. If you are a reasonably self-aware person, you will notice improved mental performance after about two months of running.

I have observed that running will enhance my sex drive. When I run, sex is on my mind more. This is beneficial for my relationship with my wife. Having sex more often makes us feel closer.

Again, this testimonial observation of enhanced sex drive is backed by studies. But again, I don’t really care about the studies so much. I care more about what I observe personally. But you might care about the studies to know if my personal observation is likely to be something you will observe. Thanks to the internet, you can easily find studies that back the connection between exercise and sex drive. I personally don’t put too much weight in any one study since a lot of them are very selective about what they look at, and are constrained by small sample size due to budget limits. Try it. That is the best way to know for you personally.

One thing I have observed as NOT being a benefit of running is weight loss. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people will exercise for this very reason. I have not noticed a connection between my running and losing weight. Running seems to help me maintain my weight though. I am less likely to gain weight when running regularly. When it comes to exercise for weight loss, you need to do the math. It takes about 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat. When you run a mile, you burn around 100 to 125 calories, depending on your weight. So if your goal is to lose one pound a week from running, you would have to run about 31 miles a week! If you ran a 10 minute mile pace, that would require over five hours of running a week. Unfortunately, since the human body is so efficient, running becomes too time consuming to be a practical means to weight loss. If you have hours to run a week, then your experience may be different from mine. But for me, my week of running can easily be offset calorie wise just by having a piece of cake.

So I hope the benefits of enhanced mood, mental performance, and sex drive will motivate you to get out there and run. Anyone can run, but it will not be fun at first. I started to notice these bonus benefits after about two months of running. Sometimes I can take a break from running. When I come back to it, I notice the return of these benefits. That helps reinforce for me how important it is to run. Sometimes when I feel like I have so much going on, I try to step back and think about what running is doing for me. That helps me prioritize and make the time to run.

I hope this has motivated you to start running. I would get advice on fitting shoes, replace your shoes every 500 miles, and don’t run on consecutive days (for injury prevention). Running is such a simple and natural form of exercise that it is mainly common sense. Good luck!

Copyright © 2013 by Jeffery Lewis. All rights reserved.

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