What are the benefits of beginning a running program?

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Answered by: Alissa, An Expert in the Running and Jogging Category
The benefits of beginning a running program extend from the physical to the psychological. Ranging from weight loss to longevity, running is good for the body and soul. Running, even jogging, is accepted as one of the best methods for weight loss, stress reduction and increased wellness. Once you learn about the benefits of running and how to get started you will be excited to lace up your running shoes and hit the road!

Because running requires a great deal of energy, the body burns a large number of calories when running. When you burn more calories than you intake, you lose pounds. To lose one pound of body weight, the needs to lose 3,500 calories more than it intakes, roughly burning 500 calories per day. Runners burn this in an hour making it easier for runners to lose weight.

Running also causes the heart rate to increase. When you run, your arteries contract and expand roughly three times more frequently than they do when you sit. This strengthens your heart and thus your cardiovascular health. One of the benefits of beginning a running program is that running can help fight heart disease, the number one killer of women in the United States.

Running slows the aging process. It helps to maintain muscle and bone mass. Bones actually become stronger because of the physical demands placed on them by runners. When bones become strong, the risk of osteoporosis decreases, slowing the aging process.

Running not only has physiological benefits, but psychological benefits as well. Because running decreases stress runners report feeling happier and more content. Running releases endorphins, which can create a sense of euphoria called “runners high”. Running demands that the runner focuses all of his or her energy on running. This causes the runner to forget other stressors and can clear the mind. Additionally, runners experience a sense of accomplishment upon completing a run because it is physically and mentally demanding.

Running can seem intimidating to beginners. Many people think that to be a “runner”, they need the newest exercise clothes and already have to be in good shape. That is just simply not true. Anyone who has a pair of gym shoes can be a runner. To avoid injury, start slow and follow these simple guidelines.

First, be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. It is very important that runners stay well hydrated. Drink at least 8 ounces of water 8 times a day. Staying hydrated will help to keep you from becoming dehydrated and faint on your run.

Make sure you have the right gym shoes. Not having the right shoes can injure your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. Take the time to go to a running shoe store and get expert advice. At the store, they should be able to tell you about pronation, arch support and longevity of the shoe.

Start a running program slow. No one expect you to go our and run 3, or even 1 mile on your first day. Many runners start with a run/walk program that balances the two exercises. Don’t feel bad walking when you need to. It’s an important part of becoming a runner and will keep you active when running gets tough. A popular running program is called, Couch to 5K. This program is nine weeks and starts with a very easy run/walk program and ends with the participant running 30 minutes without walking.

Starting a running program is easy and fun. Remember to enjoy your time on the treadmill or the road. Find someplace you want to run and go there. Get a good play list on your iPod. Enjoy your time with just yourself and you will fall in love with running in no time.

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