Amid the hustle of everyday life, finding the time and motivation for exercise can be tough. However, the physical and mental benefits of running are so worth it. Like those motivational memes say, “I really regret that run, said no one ever.” If you’ve been dabbling with the idea of taking up running and you’re looking for some inspiration, read on for 17 wonderful reasons to run.
1 RUNNING CLEARS YOUR HEAD
If you’re stuck on a problem or experiencing a mental block, running may help. Ashley Crossman, running coach, personal trainer and owner of She Runs Strong, says running is a great way to shake off the mental fog. And a 2014 study published by the American Academy of Neurology found that those with higher cardiovascular fitness had better cognitive function. “If I’ve got writer’s block or am trying to solve a personal or work problem, I head out for a run,” says Crossman. “Ninety-five percent of the time I come home with a solution.”
2 RUNNING MAY HELP YOU LIVE LONGER
It’s true! Running could help you live a longer, healthier life. A 2008 study from Stanford University published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that running gives individuals a “notable survival advantage.” Researchers followed 284 runners and 156 non-runners beginning in their fifties. After 19 years, only 15 percent of the runners had died, compared with 34 percent of the non-runners. Runners also reported fewer age-related disabilities and better overall health.
3 RUNNING COULD SAVE YOUR BRAIN
Hitting the pavement (or trail or treadmill) may help with memory loss as you get older. A 2012 study published in the journal Neurology found that individuals who participated in more physically engaging activities experienced less brain shrinkage over time. The study also found that physical activity was even more effective at preventing brain shrinkage than mentally or socially engaging activities. Next time you’re considering doing a crossword puzzle, try lacing up your running shoes instead.
4 RUNNING IMPROVES YOUR MOOD
Running can be a good cure for a case of the blues. If you’re down, running may lift your spirits in addition to providing physical benefits. A 2005 study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise can boost your mood and improve your overall feeling of well-being. Establish a regular running routine for a high-intensity workout to improve your health and spirits.
5 RUNNING NEVER CLOSES
Unlike most gyms, which only stay open for a specific number of hours every day, or fitness classes that follow a set schedule, you can run any time motivation hits. If you work odd hours, have trouble making the times of gym classes or are a night owl or early bird, running is a convenient exercise that you can fit in whenever your crazy schedule allows.
6 RUNNING IS HEALTHY “ME” TIME
Between meetings at work, running the kids to practice, social obligations and the constant inundation of emails, social media and texts, it can be hard to escape the daily chaos. Running coach Ashley Crossman says running can be as community-oriented or as solitary as you choose. “It’s often the only ‘me’ time I get,” she says. “With the demands of work and family, running is sometimes the only time I have 100 percent to myself.” If you need to decompress and get away, grab your sneakers and hit the open road.
7 RUNNING IS A STRESS BUSTER
If you have an approaching deadline, exercising may feel like the last activity you have time for, but its benefits can actually lower stress and help you work more efficiently. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that high-intensity exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety. “Running is a great stress reliever,” says running coach Ashley Crossman. “There is nothing quite like letting out your frustrations, stress and anger through a good run.”
8 RUNNING IS RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR
Running is one of the most accessible exercises out there. Marissa Gee, owner and head coach of CorporateActive and cross-country coach at Santa Monica College, praises running as one of the only exercises that requires no equipment, fields, courts or other people for your participation. “Running can be the most freeing, honest sport. You can just head out the door anytime, anywhere,” she says. “All you need are shoes.” And buying the right kind of shoes before you take up running is important in injury prevention. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society recommends choosing a running shoe that has proper shock absorption and heel control.
9 RUNNING IS AN EFFICIENT CALORIE BURNER
Running is one of the best calorie-burning exercises. According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person running a 12-minute mile burns approximately 298 calories every 30 minutes. In comparison, walking a 17-minute mile, yoga or water aerobics burns 149 calories, while lifting weights burns 112 calories for the same amount of time.
10 RUNNING LETS YOU CATCH UP ON READING
Yes, you read that correctly. If you have a book that you’ve been meaning to read, multitask while you run and exercise your brain along with your body. Most books are available to download onto smartphones and other portable devices so that you can listen to them through your headphones. If the story is captivating enough, the miles will fly by. If music motivates you more than words, compile a playlist of your favorite tunes for inspiration.
11 RUNNING SUPPORTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
If you find yourself contracting colds frequently, running could help fend off some of those annoying bugs. An article from Harvard Health recommends regular exercise to promote healthy living, lower blood pressure and control weight. Exercise also aids circulation, helping your immune system work more efficiently. And researchers are looking into how much exercise affects an individual’s susceptibility to disease in the first place.
12 RUNNING IS FREE
Not only is running great for your body and mind, it’s good for your wallet. “Run in a park, on the beach, on a public track, in the mountains or down the street,” says running coach cross-country coach Marissa Gee. “It’s all free. And free is good!” Save money on gym memberships or exercise equipment by simply lacing up your running shoes and running.
13 RUNNING CAN HELP OTHERS
Running provides an opportunity to help yourself while you help others. A vast number of running-related fundraising opportunities are available, allowing you to give back while getting fit. Websites such as Run for Charity are useful sources for finding running groups and races that offer a chance to raise money for a cause close to your heart. Plus, registering for a race will give you a deadline to make you more motivated to meet your goal.
14 RUNNING GETS YOU SOMEWHERE
Running can get you from point A to point B faster if you live in big, crowded cities with lots of traffic. If you find it hard to fit exercise into your schedule, “run” errands by jogging to the pharmacy, friend’s house, work (if your workplace has showers) or other locations. A variety of running gear is available that allows you to carry lightweight items as you run. However, if your errands involve a grocery store or trip to the library, you may want to opt for the car.
15 RUNNING HELPS YOU MEET PEOPLE
Running doesn’t have to be a solo sport. A multitude of running clubs and groups exist around the country. Training for or participating in races can be very social. Running coach Ashley Crossman says, “Running is a great way to meet like-minded people. I’ve met so many people through running — including my husband — and cherish the friendships I’ve made from races or running groups.”
16 RUNNING HAS A QUICK LEARNING CURVE
Running is an inherent skill. Cross-country coach Marissa Gee points out that unlike running, mastering the techniques and skills to swim, ski, bike, play tennis and other sports often requires a long learning curve. “Running has a very quick learning curve,” she says. “If we could do it at age one, it’s really not that hard at any age.” Make sure to learn about proper running form and guidelines for starters, then lace up and give it a try. For instance, Runner’s World contributor Jennifer Van Allen recommends using quick, short strides and ensuring your foot is not in front of your knee when it hits the ground.
17 RUNNING LETS YOU BE A TOURIST
Running is a great way to explore a new place, since you can sightsee on vacation while burning calories. “Wherever I travel, I bring my running shoes and go for a run as soon as I arrive,” says cross-country coach Marissa Gee. “I find restaurants, shops and sites I would never discover speeding by in a car.” She also suggests playing “tourist” in your own neighborhood. Instead of running a set route, pick a new direction and run down streets you’ve never seen before. You may find some new favorite places.