Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

Health benefits of running: 7 Key Ways Running can Transform your Body and Brain


Running has incredible life-changing effects on your body, and brain. Some people call it a “miracle drug.” because, with just a few minutes of running per day, you can considerably transform your body, mind, and soul.


Research shows that our bodies are shaped in a way that we can become endurance runners.

Some features of our bodies like the length of our legs, the shapes of our feet and hips, our shock-absorbing spinal discs, and even the ability to sweat can make it possible for us to run for miles. No wonder running comes with numerous health benefits to our brains and bodies.

How to Keep Track of Your Progress 

So, how can you tell you that you’re making any progress and thus you will reap the benefits of running?  You need to monitor your running activities.


Today, there are many ways to keep track of your running or workout progress. You can either use gadgets or apps to monitor your progress.

There are some great fitness trackers available today. They include Runtastic, Fitbit, Jawbone, and Garmin. For example, the Garmin Forerunner 35 can help you monitor your heart rate, how far, fast and where you’ve exercised, steps you’ve taken, calories burnt, and can even record a video and take photos. You can read a Garmin Forerunner 35 review for more information.


So with no further ado, here are some health benefits of running as a form of exercising:

1. Improves mood and can lift symptoms of depression

Depression is associated with low mood episodes. According to a report by the American College of Sports Medicine, a person with a depressive disorder can improve their mood by running or walking for 30 minutes per day.


Running and other forms of exercise can significantly boost their mood and helps fight depression. That is because, when running, the brain pumps two feel-good chemicals which are endocannabinoids and endorphins. These elements can make the person feel high and thus can lift their mood.


Also, running makes the brain resistant to stress. Some experts say that aerobic exercises increase levels of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin, which causes the brain to generate new neurons.


2. Helps One Sleep better

If you are a young person struggling with insomnia, then you should consider adding running into your daily routine. According to a study of young people who had an average age of 18 years, those who took at least 30 minutes per day to run slept better than those that didn’t.


The same benefits apply to runners of any age because running has calming and anxiety-reducing effects. Also, it eases muscle tension and blood pressure, which leaves a person feeling more relaxed and thus can sleep better.


3. Boosts Your ability to focus

Running is also good for your brain. Research indicates that running can keep your mind healthy at any age, and it improves your memory and ability to focus. For example, a study that was conducted on cognitive-boosting effects of aerobic exercise, which includes running, showed that children that were regular runners improved their memory and focus.


In young adults, running also showed similar effects, including task switching effects. For older adults as well, running offers numerous benefits, including improved focus, memory, and task switching abilities. Therefore, if you spend a few minutes on the treadmill per day, you can counteract Alzheimer’s symptoms.

According to a study conducted in 2014 at the University of British Columbia, if you have regular aerobic exercise especially that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat, you can boost the size of your hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region in the brain that is typically involved in both verbal memory and learning.


4. Improves Knee Health and Strengthens your Joints

According to an eight-year study conducted recently, runners are less likely to suffer from osteoarthritis. The research proves that running helps keep your BMI in check, strengthens your leg muscles and bones.


However, if you over-train, then you’ll also be prone to knee pain. But usually, knee pain for people overtraining is a sign that you need to improve your form and flexibility.


5. Significantly Improves Your cardiovascular health

Any physical exercise is good for the heart, and running is no exception. People who run regularly have healthier hearts compared to those that don’t.


Running for as little as 5 minutes a day could increase your lifespan according to a study published in the American College of Cardiology journal. Running helps improve your aerobic fitness and is an excellent way to help improve your cardiovascular health.


A landmark study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says that people who exercise regularly, including running, have lower risks of dying from cardiovascular diseases.


However, some studies also show that extreme amounts of running, especially those associated with ultramarathon distances, can scar or stress the heart. But, it’s good to note that those people that run for at least 40 miles per week have healthier hearts than those that run for only 13 miles per week.

6. Great Way to Burn Calories

Most physical exercise, like running, requires a lot of fuel or calories. Therefore, running helps the body burn calories and fats. An average 150-pound person can burn around12.2 calories per minute when they run a 10-minute mile on flat terrain. If you have your head outside where wind and hills up your efforts, you can expect to burn even more calories.


When running at a pace of 5 mph and going for a 12-minute mile, a 160-pound person will burn 606 calories per hour whereas, a 200-pound person will burn 755 calories in the same hour. But when going faster, for example, at eight mph for a 7:30 mile, those people would burn 861 and 1,074 calories, respectively.


7. Counts as a Form of Meditation 

When running, you get to spend some time alone, meditating, and trying to solve your problems. If you take a break from your regular schedule or a stressful project to run, you come back insightful and refreshing. Research shows that meditation can improve your focus, boost your gray matter, and fight anxiety, and depression.

According to a report published in ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal, physical activity acts as an effective alternative to treating anxiety and depression. If you combine running with a pre- or post-workout meditation session, then the benefits are substantial.