As we all play our part in reducing the spread of COVID – 19 by staying at home, watching Netflix and eating a little bit more cake than usual, it has never been more important to take care of ourselves physically and mentally. Luckily however, despite the gyms and sporting facilities being closed, ‘Dan the Man’ has allowed us to leave our homes in order to exercise. For some, this means taking the dog for a walk, or even just going outside to get some much-needed fresh air after long and draining zoom calls, however a lot of Victorians have used this time to build up their fitness by running.
So, to both reassure those who are already running, and inform those who are considering getting started, we at SportsPower Geelong have compiled a list of benefits that arise from running, in all forms including sprinting and long-distance.
A key feature of running is that it actually improves your cardiovascular health. As per exercise physiologist Greg Justice, every time you go for a run, you ultimately begin to lower your resting heart. A lower resting helps towards a more efficient response to routine stressors such as exercise, illness and day-today activities (medicalnewstoday.com). Furthermore, according to a landmark study undertaken by the American College of Cardiology, running for as much as 5-10 minutes per day, at slower speeds, is associated with a lower risk of death by cardiovascular disease. So, don’t worry about how fast you go, just ‘Run Forrest Run’!
Additionally, running will help you lose those COVID calories. As with most cardio exercises, participation in them even in small capacity will ultimately lead to a loss in weight. However, according to ‘Podium Runner’, as running encourages an entire movement of the body, working in a continuous manner, it ultimately burns more calories than the majority of other exercises. And the best part is, you don’t have the be clocking ‘four -minute miles’ either, so long as your putting in consistent efforts, you will reap the rewards.
Also, as with most exercise, running will actually make you sleep better. Now this one is directed to those who spend the nights online shopping or on ‘Tik Tok’ (I am guilty of this), running throughout the day will not only ‘help you fall asleep’, but also improve the ‘actual quality of sleep’ (Hopkins Medicine). No more staying awake all night trying to count the sheep!
Perhaps the most obvious of all, is the fact that running will ultimately improve your fitness levels. Shorter distance running will help build up your anaerobic capacity, meaning over time, your ability to run at higher speeds will be increased and maximised. It’s no wonder why so many professional athletes do ‘high intensity’ training, as it ultimately improves their ability to perform ‘short-sharp’ efforts. Alternatively, consistent longer distance running will help improve your aerobic capacity. Whilst tackling the Melbourne Marathon to anyone may appear daunting at first, it is important to mention that those performing longer distance runs train to improve their aerobic capacity, to which consistently builds, the greater the work you put in. So, start small 3-5km, then build up to 10km and before you know it, you’ll be passing that 42km mark in no time.
Running can actually strengthen your bones and joints. Because running is classified as a weight bearing exercise, whereby your weight travels through your joints every time your foot hits the floor, the more running you do, the more resistance and strength your joints will build. According to a study published by the Journal of Strength and Condition Research,running has a greater effect on bone density than non-weight bearing activities such as swimming. So, if you’re just starting running now, you’ll still be able to by the time your 80… but maybe a little bit slower by then.
One of the stranger benefits of running, as per a study at the University of British Columbia, running is also linked with improving your memory. Oddly enough, regular longer distance running, the kind that gets your heart rate up, can actually increase the part of your brain that is associated with memory. No more stressing about where you left your keys? Sign me up to that!
Along with the myriad of physical benefits running have has, arguably running’s most beneficial element its positive effect on your mental health. With our world becoming more and more reduced to the confines of our screens, both stress and anxiety levels are skyrocketing in people of all ages. Whilst running certainly doesn’t cure anxiety and depression, it can help alleviate the burdens of them, as a daily job out in the fresh air clears your mind, allowing your mind to drift away from the stresses of study or work, even the stress of watching your AFL team blow a four goal lead (Sorry to any Hawks fans out there). According to Podium Runner, one study found that running was to be as effective as psychotherapy in relating to intervening depression. In the study, those who participated in just exercise, just psychotherapy and a combination of both, all experienced a ‘significant’ decline in depression symptoms. Pretty powerful stuff.
Rather than a physical or mental benefit, a key positive to running is that it is both cheap and timely. In an era where gym memberships are expensive and require lock in contracts, running can be catered to fit in with your busy schedule. Running doesn’t have a closing time, nor a minimum time requirement, so whether it is before the kids get up, during your lunch break or perhaps half – time during the footy, you can always fit in a run. And cost wise? You only need a good pair of runners, and a positive mindset and you’re already halfway there.
So, if we’ve motivated you to run a little further, or perhaps got you in the mindset to start running, grab yourself a pair of quality runners at SportsPower Geelong and get running! It might be worth picking up a Nike drink bottle too… Gotta stay hydrated. See you on the track.