There’s never a bad time to start exercising. That includes running, which boasts countless physical and mental benefits. Whether you’re thinking about beginning a serious running regimen or you just want to get outside for the occasional jog, here are 10 reasons to lace up your shoes and start running today.
RUNNING IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
Aerobic activities like running are heart-healthy. They improve your cardiovascular fitness and can lower blood pressure and reduce your unhealthy cholesterol. A 2018 study in the journal Circulation found men with greater levels of cardiovascular fitness had a lower risk of cardiac events. (Of course, running alone isn’t enough to maintain a healthy heart — you should also eat a nutritious diet.)
IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR BONES
While low-impact training is often touted for its joint-friendly attributes, science shows running, walking and other weight-bearing exercises help build stronger bones. A University of Missouri study found men ages 25–60 experienced new bone growth after performing high-impact exercises for one year. That’s good news, especially since bone mass tends to decrease as we age.
EXERCISE REDUCES STRESS
Even if you’ve yet to experience a “runner’s high,” you’ve likely enjoyed the stress-reducing effects of exercise. A good sweat session can give anxiety the boot and put a positive cap on a bad day. There’s a reason for that. According to a BYU study, running reduces the negative impact chronic stress has on the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory.
IT CAN BOOST YOUR MOOD
Similar to how exercise reduces stress, it can also make you happier. A review of 23 studies conducted between 1980–2018 looked at the connections between exercise and happiness. The results showed people who exercised for 150–300 minutes each week enjoyed dramatic improvements in mood. And the more people exercised, the happier they felt. That’s a compelling reason to get off the couch and onto a jogging path.
YOU’LL LIVE LONGER
We all know inactivity is detrimental to your health. But runners will be happy to know running, specifically, has been linked to a longer life. Multiple studies have examined the positive relationship between running and longevity, and an American College of Cardiology study found even short bouts of running are associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular events.
RUNNING CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
If you’re trying to drop some pounds, running is an effective exercise to help you reach your goals because it increases your heart rate and burns calories. Running is shown to burn more calories per minute than other popular activities, like cycling and swimming. Perhaps, as a result, runners tend to be lighter and leaner than exercisers who perform an equivalent amount of other cardio activities.
RUNNING IS SOCIAL
Running with friends, joining a running club or signing up for a race is a great way to stick with the sport. Even if you don’t want to make your runs a group affair, you can still engage with fellow runners on apps like MapMyRun. Track your workouts, share your favorite routes, and keep up with your friends. It’s a great motivation to keep on running.
YOU CAN EXPLORE
If you’re visiting a new city or just exploring your hometown, running is a great way to get the lay of the land. Take trails to see where they go. Visit parks, run around lakes, and jog through undiscovered neighborhoods. As you familiarize yourself with the area, take mental notes of what’s there, and you may find reasons to come back — whether for another run or to check out a store or restaurant that piqued your interest.
IT’S A REASON TO GET OUTSIDE
In addition to enjoying the natural scenery, running outdoors has myriad health benefits. A University of Exeter study found exercising outdoors is associated with greater feelings of revitalization and satisfaction, increased energy and reduced levels of depression. It’s also a good opportunity to score some sunshine and vitamin D, an essential nutrient for bone health, immunity and neuromuscular function.
IT’S EASY TO GET STARTED
With running, the barrier to entry is minimal. You don’t need expensive equipment or a dedicated studio; you just need running shoes and some space. Whether it’s a treadmill, track, trail or local streets, there’s always a place that can accommodate you. Sometimes that’s enough to get you out and moving.
Whether you want to run your first mile or set a PR, having a plan gets you there faster. Go to the MapMyRun app, tap “Training Plans” — you’ll get a schedule and coaching tips to help you crush it.