The only way to really improve your fitness and health is aerobic exercise. That means getting off the couch and moving. You will get health benefits running daily at a quicker rate and unlike most any other exercise you could name.
People are always looking for the easy way out when it comes to fitness and health. They watch late-night TV and spend their money on gadgets or pills thinking those purchases will provide a gateway to fitness and health without putting in the work. Unfortunately, fitness and health isn’t available in a bottle or something battery-operated you strap across your ever-expanding gut.
You Get Lots of Health Benefits Running Daily
Starting a new fitness and health routine that involves running daily presents many challenges for some people. You need proper shoes, clothing (especially if you are in the northern climes during fall and winter), a planned route or treadmill, plus a lot of commitment. Commitment to the routine is usually people’s downfall.
But, if you have the commitment, and the clothing, and the running shoes what type of health benefits running daily should you expect? There are much longer books on that topic than this article. You can read about the “runner’s high” and “breaking through the wall” as well as other results from regular running.
I’m just a regular person probably much like you. I played high-school sports for four years where I was constantly on the move. Still, I hated running. It was only after joining the military that running-for-running’s-sake became a regular part of my fitness and health routine. These were some of the health benefits running daily that I experienced:
- Better Overall Sleep – I used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep. Even when my body was tired, my mind would race. That almost immediately started to change when I began running daily. I found myself falling asleep almost immediately after my head hit the pillow. Plus, that sleep was deeper with few to no times waking during the night (unless I had to tinkle).
- Improved Cardiovascular Health – This is a biggie. Your body is composed of cells and those cells need fuel and oxygen to perform their best. Your lungs take in oxygen and transfer it to your blood while taking from the blood the cell’s carbon dioxide waste product. The lungs expel that carbon dioxide on each exhale starting the process all over again. Meanwhile, the oxygenated blood is pumped from the lungs to each cell in your body by your heart. Your cells transfer carbon dioxide and waste products to blood cells which the heart pumps to the lungs and other organs for cleaning. Cardiovascular health manifests itself in aerobic fitness, blood pressure, standing heart rate, and other ways. By every measurable, when I was running daily, my cardiovascular health improved. Long-term that means a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and things like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Enhanced Mental Clarity – There is something about a daily run that helps eliminate “clutter” in the mind. If you’ve ever watched the movie “Forrest Gump” there’s a scene where he’s jogging past a mountain lake where it’s like a mirror. The grandeur of it all was pretty breathtaking. Now, I never did my daily runs past a mirror-like mountain lake, but I found I could concentrate better after my runs. I remember having some of my best brainstorming sessions after a brisk, daily run. It wasn’t just brainstorming. As a leader and manager, the health benefits running daily made me more effective. I was able to communicate job tasks and goals and provide feedback to my subordinates that made the whole team better.
- Better Balance – This will depend on where you complete your daily run. Balance is not really affected if you do your running on a treadmill. If at all possible, I would encourage you to run outside. This will force your body to make little adjustments based on the terrain and any obstacles that get in your way. When I was running in Hawaii, my preferred course had tree roots, curbs, and even large wooden objects like railroad ties which needed to be navigated. Doing so forced me to adjust my footing to ensure I didn’t fall flat on my face.
- More Positive Outlook – There’s something about running every day that “makes the negative go away”. I don’t know how to explain it. I could be in the worst mood with the worst attitude before starting my run. But, for some reason, when my run was finished, I turned into “Mr Can Do”. I was ready and willing to take on any task, any challenge presented to me. That type of attitude has a snowball effect and can be very beneficial to your team or organization.
Scheduling Your Runs
Since you’re going to be running every day, I think it’s important to schedule your runs at the same time every day. This routine will help your body adjust to the stresses running will impart. After a period of time, your body will tell you that it’s time to run or that you missed the time to run.
Many people have a hectic schedule and may find it difficult to schedule their run at the same time every day. That’s understandable. I had a very stable work schedule, so I would run in the morning before work and that’s what I recommend. Not only will you get to experience the sights and sounds of nature, you might make a friend. My Hawaii runs would actually take me past some unused stables from a time long ago. I noticed a gecko who always seemed to be perched on top of one of the stable doors. At least I think it was the same gecko. One day I decided I would stop and introduce myself. To my surprise, the gecko stayed right on his perch seeming to look at me. Over the course of a couple of weeks, we became friendly enough that the gecko would let me run my finger down the back of his head. Within a month, the gecko disappeared. I like to think he found another runner with which to socialize.
Places to Run – Pros and Cons
When deciding where you will begin to reap the health benefits running daily, your choices can be divided into two general locations: inside and outside.
Inside running usually involves a treadmill or indoor running track. A major “pro” running inside is being able to avoid inclimate weather. It’s possible you also might be able to read or watch TV while exercising. This serves to leverage your use of time.
There are three “cons” that comes to mind when it comes to running inside. One, it can be pretty boring staring at a wall or mirror if your treadmill doesn’t happen to face a TV. The same goes for running round and round an indoor track. Two, running on a treadmill always presents the possibility of an embarrassing viral moment. I’m talking about being the star of one of those laugh-out-loud videos of somebody face-planting on a treadmill. You do not want to be that person. And three, a gym can be a busy place. While you are running around the track, there could be volleyball games and basketball games and other sports occurring in the gym. Just make sure your reflexes are tuned into what’s around you. When someone yells “duck”, you must be prepared to react.
Running outdoors has a “pro” of never being the exact same run each time. The terrain can change (avoid running only on roadways and sidewalks to prevent impact injuries). You may get to run with and conversate with new and interesting people. You may get to note the progress on new buildings on your running route. Plus, you never know when you’ll happen upon your own “gecko” that wants to be friends.
On the “con” side, be prepared for weather when you’re running outside. That could mean heat, cold, rain, snow, wind, just about anything depending on where and when you are doing your running. If you run in a secluded area, make sure you have a means to communicate with folks should you injure yourself on your run. I noted earlier in the article that “Better Balance” is a health benefit running daily. Well, your balance improves because the terrain you are running on outdoors is not always flat. You have to constantly shift your balance on a changing terrain in order to maintain your pace. That means you are subject to ankle twists and sprains more running outside than inside. Those types of injuries are often accompanied by a fall meaning this “con” might also include the trifecta of hand, elbow, and knee scrapes and cuts.
If You Can’t Run than Jog
Let’s face it. There are plenty of people out there that could benefit from a daily run. I believe some of them think running isn’t something they could easily do. I don’t want that word “run” to be offputting for folks. I think when some people hear “run” they think of the pace of Olympic athletes and marathoners. Believe me, that was not my case.
Pace isn’t that great a factor. Besides, you can get many of the same health benefits jogging every day. “Jogging” is a good way to start until your stamina will allow you to run. It just means that the health benefits jogging every day that you gain may not be as great or lasting as those realized when running.
Get Active – It Pays
Whether you fancy yourself a jogger or a runner, the key is to get started and don’t quit. Hopefully, this article informed you about what are the benefits of running every day. They include better overall sleep, improved cardiovascular health, enhanced mental clarity, and better balance. All of these can make living your daily life much better and will serve you well as you age.
So, make the commitment today to begin running every day starting tomorrow. If you happen to be running around Camp HM Smith in Hawaii and you see a gecko watching you from the door of the unused stables, tell him I said “hi” and that I was a friend of his great, great, great, great, great, great granddad.
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