Five Not So Well Known Reasons To Be A Runner
Five Reasons To Be A Runner
Running is such a simple thing yet offers so many benefits. Take a look at these five not so well known reasons to run and then go hit the pavement and start reaping the benefits.
1.) Burn Baby Burn – No other exercise out there offers the calorie burning benefits of running. In a comparison of common activities at the gym it is no contest. Below is a list of the calories burned for an hour of exercise at a “hard” exertion level:
- Treadmill: 705-865 calories
- The Stair-Stepper: 637-746 calories
- Rowing Machine: 606-739 calories
- Cross-Country Ski Machine: 595-678 calories
- Stationary Bike: 498-604 calories
2.) “See” The Benefits - Two separate studies from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that running reduced the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The YOU Docs, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen, authors of “YOU: on a Diet.” stated that If you run a little farther than a mile a day then you reduce your chances of age-related macular degeneration by 36 percent. Running five miles a day will cut your risk by 54 percent. Push just a little farther, to 5.5 miles, and you cut your risk of cataracts more.
3.) The Fountain Of Youth -It is already pretty widely accepted that exercise can help you to overcome some of the effects of aging. Most people however think that a big part of muscle deterioration and loss of muscle mass and strength is just a part of the aging process. While I believe that there is some muscle deterioration that comes with the aging process I do believe that you can avoid a lot of the negative effects of age by staying active. I recently read one of the most amazing studies that I have ever seen about the effectiveness of chronic intense exercise in maintaining muscle mass, and maybe even more importantly, muscle strength. This study showed that muscle health may have more to do with lifestyle than musculoskeltal aging. The study was published in “The Physician and Sportsmedicine” Issue 39 in September of 2011. The results of this study were unbelievable! Below is a picture from their study that shows an MRI scan of a 40 year old triathlete, a 74 year old sedentary man and a 70 year old triathlete. The scan shows the difference in muscle mass, bone density and adipose tissue (body fat). You can see in the scan what the body fat infiltration has done to the muscle mass in the sedentary 74 year old and how healthy the muscle is in the scan of the 70 year old triathlete, which is very similar to the scan of the 40 year old triathlete. I don’t know about you but these pictures alone make me want to stay active. You can see the full study here.
4.) Skin Deep – Most people don’t think of a link between running and skin health but there are definitely benefits to running that may help your skin. According to dermatologists, running stimulates circulation, transports nutrients and purges your body of toxins that can clog pores. Running also gets the blood flowing, and that increased blood flow carries more oxygen to the skin. The boost in blood flow and oxygen to the skin cells helps to carry more nutrients to the skin which in turn improves skin health. This can lead to clearer skin, more distinct facial features, and help to eliminate pimples and blemishes. Exercise also causes the skin to produce more of its natural oils which will help the skin look more supple and healthy. Many people believe that stress plays a part in skin health and so the stress reducing effects of running can also help to improve skin health by reducing stress levels.
5.) A Joint Effort – It is very common to hear people say that if you run then you are bound to have knee and joint problems but research shows just the opposite. The biggest risk factor for Osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis, is excess weight. As we covered in reason #1 if you want to avoid excess weight become a runner, which will in turn help avoid osteoarthritis. Lower body weight though is not the only benefit for our joints. James Fries, M.D., professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine says, “Aerobic exercise improves most body functions–including joint health. When you exercise, the cartilage in your hips, knees, and ankles compresses and expands. This draws in oxygen and flushes out waste products, nourishing and keeping the cartilage healthy. “Without exercise, cartilage cells get weak and sick.” Running also strengthens our ligaments which support joints and help to avoid sprains and other strains. In 2006, Dr. Fries presented research that compared rates of Osteoarthritis related disabilities of 539 runners and 423 nonrunners over a 21-year period. Researchers found that the increase in disabilities of non-runners was twice that of the runners. If you are smart about your training then you are more likely to improve joint health by being a runner versus being a non-runner.
These are only five benefits of running. There are so many other benefits that I could fill pages and pages listing them. The best way to find the benefits though is to start running and explore them for yourself and then keep “Running Through Life.” You won’t be dissappointed if you do!