Fitness shouldn’t just be about losing weight. In fact, this is where a lot of people will go wrong. If you simply aim to lose weight, then you’ll find you can quickly become disheartened and you can make some bad choices regarding your diet and your training. Instead, all forms of fitness and training should be aimed at feeling better and being healthier. Because when you do that, you will find it much easier to stick at what you do and you’ll find that your body changes to look the way you want it to almost as a side effect.
Don’t run to look good, just enjoy the fact that it happens! So the BIG benefits of running everyday is what it does for your health. And it does tons for your health. Obviously running improves your cardiovascular fitness and your energy. It’s not just your heart that improves, it’s also your mitochondria and all the other energy systems in your body. This means, quite simply, that you get tired less easily.
That’s true whether you’re playing sports or you’re on a long walk. Bruce Lee used to run for miles every single day and the reason he gave for this was that you can’t expect to be a good fighter if you’re tired out after throwing just a few punches! The same is true for tennis, for football, for rugby. And even just a busy day or stressful commute. When you can run 10 miles, suddenly everything else becomes really easy.
Wouldn’t you love it if everything was really easy?
But there are many other, much more specific and scientific benefits of running everyday. The first thing it does is to increase the size of your left ventricle. This is the part of your heart that stores oxygenated blood and then pumps it around your body. The stronger and larger this gets, the more blood you can transport around your body with the fewer heartbeats.
This is a benefit that is exclusive to steady state cardio like running, it doesn’t happen with modern forms of HIIT. What that increased left ventricle means is that you can now deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your body at any given time. That doesn’t only mean when you’re running but also when you’re sleeping and when you’re working.
This means you’ll wake up each morning feeling more energetic and you’ll be able to stay awake and alert for longer during the day. Have you ever wondered what you could accomplish with one more productive hour? Likewise, that increased power in your heart also means your pulse doesn’t have to work so hard.
Instead of going into overdrive to try and pump your blood around your body, your heart can take a much more casual approach and still provide more than enough of what you need, where you need it.
What does this mean?
It means that you now have a lower resting heart rate. That is important because a low resting heart rate is correlated with low cortisol, cortisol being the stress hormone. In other words, when your heart is healthy, you are less physiologically aroused at all times of day. That means that you will feel much more refreshed and much more rested even when you’re not really doing anything.
It means you’ll be able to handle stressful life events much easier and it means that you’ll sleep FAR better (your sleep quality is measured largely by how low your heart rate drops). This also means your blood pressure will be lower (because blood pressure is a result of the viscosity of your blood and the force of your heart pumping). That in turn means you’re much less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other incident associated with high blood pressure.
When you combine this with a lower body weight, you become generally much less likely to become ill or to suffer any kind of serious attack. Oh and that lowered cortisol means that you’ll experience higher testosterone. For guys, this means that you’ll be able to see more muscle mass and more fat loss. A lot of people stay away from running because they think it will make them skinny and it will make them burn muscle.
Myostatin a compound that causes the breakdown of muscle
BUT (and this is a big but), running also makes you more anabolic the rest of the time by helping you to rest more efficiently. That means that it can actually boost muscle mass. And this is greatly enhanced by the increased testosterone that correlated with an improved heart rate variability. For men and women alike, running is actually also a very good way to build muscle mass in the legs.
This is attractive in and of itself but it also leads to yet more fat loss and yet more muscle building (this is why we’re told never to skip leg day!). Women wanting to get ‘fitness model’ type physiques really NEED to run. Because you don’t lose cellulite by losing fat, you lose it by toning up. If you start running, then you will have a much firmer and more toned set of buttocks.
All these changes have amazing impacts on your mood. This is what happens when you lower the stress hormone and start getting the body you’ve always wanted! But it’s also what happens when you experience the ‘runner’s high’. Running triggers the release of endorphins which are nature’s natural antidepressants and analgesics. They kill pain and they make you feel elated like nothing else.
This is compounded by the fact that running allows you to explore your natural area and usually involves running through naturally beautiful locations. That might mean a nearby forest or it might be a park, either way, countless studies have shown that spending more time in nature further reduces stress and even improves creativity. If you spend most of your time in a noisy, dirty and polluted urban environment, then this is a great way to get an ‘escape’ and to feel a lot better for it!
This is quickly becoming a health fad that some people refer to as ‘bathing in nature’. One of the best parts of running is just getting to explore some local area! And that’s nothing compared with the incredible sense of achievement that you get from beating personal bests. Running is one of the purest forms of self-improvement and an excellent chance to challenge and test yourself.
You’ll be constantly pushing yourself further and harder and it’s a fantastic way to develop mental resolve and resilience. When you’re a runner, nothing can pose an insurmountable challenge anymore. You start to learn that you just have to keep going a little further to cross that finish line. So it is with running and so it is with every other challenge life throws at you.