Here are the positive effects and benefits of running, plus the cross training and nutrition tips you should be keeping in mind.
For anyone who has felt the euphoria you get when you’ve smashed out a great run, feeling like your legs are on autopilot as your heart beats strong, you know runners’ high all too well.
Along with the endorphin rush you get from running, that can help reduce stress and clear your mind, running is also excellent for weight loss and toning your body.
The good news, you don’t have to be an Olympic level sprinter or marathon runner to see all the benefits of running in your own body.
Given running is one of those sports where it’s all about showing up better than you were yesterday, knowing your own body and its strengths and weaknesses is crucial for getting the best mental and physical results from running.
Let’s a take a look at the health benefits of running, plus the cross-training and nutrition tips you need to keep in mind to keep improving.
How Can Running Help Me Lose Weight?
For weight loss to happen in any case, you need to finish each day with a caloric deficit.
This means the number of calories you consume needs to be less than the number of calories you burn each day.
Running is an excellent way to reach a caloric deficit. It’s high impact, will be sure to make you sweat, and it works all parts of your body.
Running engages all of the muscles in your legs including your calves, shins, hamstrings and quads. Plus, if you enjoy a few hill runs each week, you’ll also tone your glutes.
It’s not just your leg muscles that get a workout when you’re running. To run with good form, and maintain good posture, your core and upper body also get a workout as they need to be engaged when you run.
Finally, the movement of your arms back and forth will tone your chest and arms as well.
While it’s natural to first think running only works your legs, given that’s where a lot of the impact is absorbed, running really works all parts of your body. This makes running an excellent exercise choice for weight loss.
One of the other key reasons running helps people lose weight is because of the work your body continues to do after your run.
This is known as “afterburn” and it’s more likely to happen in your body when you do high-intensity exercise compared to low-intensity exercise.
A comparison study that took place since 1991, and included 120,000 runners, found that runners experienced 90% more weight loss than walkers in the study group due to the higher number of calories burned during and after running.
What Are The Other Benefits Of Running?
A study published in the Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases Journal in 2017 found that running is an excellent way to improve longevity.
Even people who run for just 5 to 10 minutes each day at a moderate pace have enjoyed benefits such as a reduced risk of:
- heart attack or stroke,
- cardiovascular disease,
- developing cancer,
- and developing neurological diseases.
Cross Training For Runners
Running is a high impact sport, and if you’re running a lot this can result in an overuse injury.
Make sure you’re continuing to get the benefits of running and minimizing your risk of injury by integrating some cross training into your fitness routine. Your cross training could be any exercise.
Popular options include cycling, swimming, yoga, resistance training, or trying a class at your gym.
The important thing to remember with cross training is to be using your muscles in a different way than you would when running.
Most other exercises will help you do this especially strength and resistance training.
Adding these exercises to your routine will also help you achieve your weight loss goals.
What Should I Eat When I’m Doing A Lot Of Running?
Of course, to reap the full rewards of weight loss from running, you need to make sure you’re eating nutritious foods that help your body fuel for runs and recover afterwards.
Before you run consume whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur, oats, and whole wheat breads and pastas. These foods will give your body energy to burn while running.
After your run, you’ll need to consume healthy fats and proteins to help your body recover. Think foods like avocado, nuts, lean meat, eggs, and full-fat Greek yogurt.
Another excellent and nutritious food that will help you recover is frozen berries.
This is because when you run, and with any workout, the body is placed under stress as it uses oxygen to convert food to energy.
While this is a normal part of the body’s process in getting fit, you need to eat foods that are antioxidant-rich to help minimise oxidative damage to the body.
Frozen berries are great for the body post-run as that’s when the body has the best ability to absorb nutrients.
Finally, don’t forget to hydrate adequately with water before and after you run.
Running is an excellent way to get in shape and maintain weight loss.
Along with the physical benefits of running, you’ll also enjoy reduced stress levels and improved cardiovascular health.
While all these benefits may make you want to run every day, it’s important to add an element of cross-training to your routine as well to strengthen your body and minimize the risk of an overuse industry.
Like any health or fitness routine, you should always consult a medical professional before you get started.