Today is Global Running Day, a worldwide celebration of running that encourages everyone to get moving. In the spirit of Global Running Day, we wanted to highlight some of the key benefits and some that you may not have known of before.
Running has mood boosting effects. When you run your brain pumps out feel-good chemicals, which act as a natural pain reliever, helping you to exercise for longer periods of time. These feel-good chemicals are endorphins and endocannabinoids. A type of endocannabinoid called anandamide is found at high levels in the blood of people who have recently completed a run, and research suggests that anandamide may trigger runner’s high, releasing short term positive effects such as reducing anxiety, a feeling of euphoria and calming feelings.
Regular aerobic exercise increases the size of your hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Prolonged stress can weaken the synapses between neurons, which has a negative impact on your processing power, however running keeps these connections firing. It has been found that runners brains have better-connected neural pathways than those of sedentary people.
Echocardiographic studies have shown that distance runners have larger, thicker left ventricles and their hearts are more efficient, pumping a larger volume per beat. This is known as Athletes Heart, and results in a lower resting heart rate.
Running has a positive impact on your mental health. A study published by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College in 2018 looked at 260,000 people from around the world. The study found that the most active participants were around 15% less likely to develop depression than the least active. Moreover, when people did 150 minutes of moderate and vigorous activity a week, the risk of depression was reduced in the future by around 30%.
A 2018 meta-analysis of research on running and longevity found that runners have around a 25 to 30 percent lower rate of all-cause mortality than non-runners. Data has shown that any amount of running is associated with a 30% lower risk of death from heart disease, and a 23% lower risk of death from cancer.
If you enjoyed this, check out our post on how strength training can improve your run.