Why run? That’s a good question to ponder if you’re thinking about getting started with running.
Knowing WHY you want to run and being aware of all the benefits you’ll receive will help you stay motivated to stick with it. Your purpose for running will help fuel you as you get started. And when your running habit inevitably hits some rough patches and obstacles, your inspiration will help guide you through the storms.
Maybe you already have one or two reasons why you want to start running. But I bet you could easily embrace several more. Check out these benefits of the sport for even more reasons to start running and make it a lifelong habit.
1. You’ll improve your health.
One of the biggest and most commonly mentioned benefits of running is that it’s good for your health. Regular running strengthens your heart and ensures the efficient flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, which help decrease your heart attack risk. Exercise, combined with maintaining a healthy weight, is one of the best ways to naturally reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. Running also boosts your immune system, so your body is more effective and efficient at fighting off germs. As a weight-bearing exercise, running increases bone density, which can prevent osteoporosis.
2. You can lose weight.
Many people start running with the goal of shedding some pounds, or maintaining their current weight. As one of the most vigorous exercises out there, running is an extremely efficient way to burn calories and lose or maintain weight. Many runners find that once they establish a running habit, the discipline, focus, and motivation they get from running leads to healthier eating habits and eventually weight loss. Running becomes a “keystone habit” that has a positive effect on other areas of a runner’s life.
3. You can train for a specific goal.
Training for a race gives you a specific goal to work toward, which can definitely help improve your motivation to exercise. Those who have had prior problems with “exercising just for the sake of exercising” often have more success with running, as they set running goals and train for races.
4. You can experience something new and different.
Running is a great way to expand your horizons and switch up your normal routine. Through running, you can explore new locations and experience new physical sensations. You can always keep it interesting by trying new routes, participating in different races, running with friends, and doing new workouts.
5. You’ll sleep better.
Runners find that the more they run, the more their bodies crave sleep since it repairs itself while you’re resting. Research confirms that exercise can help you sleep better. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine asked sedentary adults suffering from insomnia to exercise for twenty to thirty minutes every other day in the afternoon. They found their time required to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost one hour.
6. You can do it practically anywhere.
You don’t need to travel somewhere to run – just head out your front door and go for a run. If you’re traveling, it’s easy to pack your running shoes and clothes in your suitcase. And running is a fun, interesting way to explore a new destination. Whether you prefer wooded trails, the beach, or the mountains, it all serves as a peaceful backdrop for running.
7. You’ll feel more energetic.
When you’re feeling sluggish, running is a great way to boost your energy. Indeed, a 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted mood and concentration during the day.
8. You’ll get stress relief.
The mental benefits of running are tremendous. Running gives you a break from the pressures and stresses of everyday life. Going for a run can help you clear your mind, problem-solve without getting too emotional and put things into perspective. What feels like an insurmountable problem somehow just doesn’t seem like a huge deal after a run.
9. You can get the whole family involved.
Running is a great way for families to spend time together. You can run and do races together. If some relatives don’t want to do a race, they can cheer or volunteer. I often run alongside my kids as they ride their bikes and scooters, or roller-blade. Even if they’re not running, we’re still having fun being active together.
10. Running is cheap!
Unlike other sports that require expensive equipment, you don’t need a lot of stuff to go for a run. You don’t even have to belong to a gym. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and you can head out your door to go for a run.
11. You can make a difference.
Running is an excellent way to contribute to your community and beyond. Many races benefit non-profit organizations, and some charities offer race training in exchange for fundraising. Running for something that’s bigger than you is a great way to stay motivated to keep training and can make running feel more meaningful and fulfilling.
12. You’ll feel good about yourself.
People who run on a regular basis report an increase in their confidence and self-esteem. You’ll get an even bigger self-esteem boost when you accomplish a specific goal, such as running a 5K. The mental benefits of running will undoubtedly spill over into other areas of your life. Many runners I know are more productive at work or become more active socially once they establish a running habit.
13. You can run alone – or with others.
Unlike other sports that can’t be played alone, running can be a perfect solo activity. But if you love to socialize and get motivated by other runners, you can always run with a friend, join a running group, or participate in a race.
14. You’ll add more structure and discipline to your life.
As you develop a running habit, your runs will become focal points in your week. You’ll plan other activities around them, and your days will have more structure. You’ll also become more disciplined, especially if you decide to follow a training schedule. Your improved organizational skills and discipline will help you achieve other goals unrelated to running.
15. You’ll be part of the running community.
The sense of community and camaraderie among runners first attracted me to running and it continues to be one of the major reasons why I’m so passionate about the sport. Running allows people to come together to help others, whether it’s encouraging one another to reach goals, raising money for causes, or making a difference in their community.
Runners develop bonds that go deep and they support each other in running and many other areas of their lives. They have a common interest and shared experiences that allow them to connect on so many levels. When some runners struggle to stay motivated, it’s often members of their running groups and community who hold them accountable and pull them through the rough patches.