4 Things Running Can Do for You (Besides Help You Lose Weight)

Kids on the RunBridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching Scottsdale culinary arts. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

Running is, of course, a great way to help you lose weight and to achieve optimal fitness. However, isn’t just about looking good in your bathing suit; it’s also got a number of other great benefits, helping to promote total physical and mental health.

Here are just 4 things that running can do for you besides help you to lose weight:

Sleep Better

The correlation between exercise and sleep is clear: the harder you work out, the more tired you are. However, it’s not quite as simple as that. Numerous studies have shown that exercise, and running in particular, helps you to fall asleep faster, have deeper sleep, sleep longer, and feel less tired during the day. That means that when you sleep, you’re going to get a better quality of sleep and wake up less frequently, helping you to feel more restored the next day.

Research found that those who run spent more time in slow-wave (or deep) sleep, which meant the participants were more alert and focused the following day. People who exercise regularly were also found to have fewer sleep disorders.

Relieve Stress

When your body feels stress, it enters the “fight or flight” mode and readies your body for action. The problem is that in our modern society, we feel stress over problems at work or our ability to pay the bills, not because a lion is ready to attack us. So we don’t end up using that fuel to run away. Instead, we stew in toxic hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that cause our blood pressure to rise and our body to store fat.

Running helps you to burn off the energy that your body is expecting to burn. It also produces endorphins, which are natural feel-good chemicals and can help you handle life’s stresses a little more easily.

Promote a More Positive Body Image

Running helps you to connect with your body in a more positive way. Instead of viewing your body as “fat” or “ugly” because it doesn’t fit into some popular conception of what it means to be beautiful, you can start to view your body in terms of the amazing things that it can do for you.

When you run faster or farther than you have before, you feel strong and invincible, like a champion. The way you think you look takes a backseat to what you’re capable of accomplishing.

Regulate Mood

Running makes you feel good. Not only does it produce the feel-good endorphins that can leave you with a runner’s high even long after you have finished running, but it also encourages hormonal balance, helping you to get the right mixture to regulate your mood. It helps to balance out harmful hormones like cortisol and promote others like dopamine. Overall, runners tend to have a lower incidence of conditions such as anxiety or depression.

Running is about much more than losing weight. Besides being a great way to get in shape and make your body strong, it can also promote overall health by helping you to sleep better, relieve stress, promote a more positive body image, and regulate your mood. It is one way to overall health and wellness.

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