WITHIN 30 MINUTES: Ever heard of “hit the ground running”? That’s true, both literally and scientifically. Research has shown that exercise can instantly boost mood and help you start your day in full force. Running is probably the best way to beat the "Monday Blues." If you are feeling depressed, 20 minutes of running can work like antidepressant and lift your mood. Running prepares you to cope with daily stress and challenges without getting panicked. You will stop overthinking and feel more relaxed. This is because running can immediately reduce the activity in your frontal cortex. This makes running the simplest and the healthiest way to break free from the daily grind. Running also helps with anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Scientists have used the carbon-dioxide challenge test to determine the connection between anxiety sensitivity and physical activity. They found that more physically active people were less likely to panic in fearful situations even if they have anxiety sensitivity.
Running can elevate your mood like recreational drugs because it stimulates the same pleasure and reward receptors. This is the reason many addiction therapies include a lot of exercise. Running triggers production of endocannabinoids that makes you happier and more focused. It is not just the mood or mental state. running will fine tune almost all parts and systems of your body. It also will regulate your blood pressure. A meta-analysis of various studies concludes that aerobic exercise can be a non-pharmacological (drug free) treatment for hypertensive people. Running improves insulin sensitivity. Your blood sugar will come down instantly because the muscles will use the glucose or energy during the running. 30 minutes of running combined with the warm-ups and stretching (45 minutes in total) will boost your metabolism for the next 14 hours.
AFTER 24 HOURS: Doesn’t matter if you are a student, professional, businessmen, or entrepreneur, running will help you make the most of your day. A study found that employees are happier and more efficient at workplace on days when they exercise. Running will make you think highly of yourself. A meta-analysis of 57 studies found that exercise boosts people's confidence and improves their body image. It can also work as an effective tool to boost self-esteem in children. A study suggests that running or exercise can increase self-esteem in children or young people. You will learn and process information faster at office, in classroom, or any other environment, if you run. A study looked at different recreational activities and their impact after a learning period. The group that was made to run performed better than any other group in the study. Running results increased cortisol levels that is needed for better memorization and information retention. Another study has shown that aerobic exercise increases BDNF that boosts memory. Aerobic exercise like running will activate the brain area that is responsible for executive functions like attention control, working memory, or cognitive flexibility. It will help you work towards achieving your goals without losing focus (and your mind). This is supported by the results of another study: two groups were exposed to a stressful situation. The group that was physically fit managed to deal with negative emotions and maintain a positive outlook. Running helps you burn a lot of calories. Everybody knows that. What you might not know is that your body does not stop even if you’ve stopped running. You will burn another 190 calories within the next 14 hours. Running will help you sleep more easily and quickly. It will also improve the time and quality of your sleep.
AFTER A MONTH: We just discussed some instant benefits, but the real ones will start to show when you have made it a routine. Here’s how you are doing after a month. Running stimulates growth of fresh grey matter in brain. Just a month of running will result in thousands of new brain cells. This means you will learn new stuff lots more quickly and easily. Not to forget that you are more focused and awake. You will adapt to changes and deal with new challenges more efficiently. You have become an inspiration for your friends and family members. Sharing your daily routine and milestones will push your friends to start running and surpass your stats. Running can help you curb the bad habits or addictions like recreational drugs, smoking, or excessive drinking. After just a few weeks, you will feel that the cravings are not as strong. You will be keen to eat something healthy after long bursts of running. Heck, you might even start to like vegetables and fruits. It’s not just the diet. You will start to make smarter and healthier choices in other aspects of life. Self-control will improve, resulting in far less impulsive decisions. You will be able to forgo instant pleasure in return of long-term health and well-being. That means no more regrets or guilty feelings.
Fatigue is no more a constant feature of your life. There’s no shortage of energy while performing day to day tasks. In a study, the group that exercised felt “much better” compared to those who did not exercise. A 6 week trial of young adults who reported persistent feeling of tiredness found improvements in energy levels and a drop in fatigue. Running will boost your energy levels and that ever-present tiredness will be replaced with a childlike enthusiasm.
Mental illnesses and psychological disorders are on the rise, but you don’t need to worry. You are far less likely to suffer from any of those conditions because of your running routine. Research has shown that running in a natural environment works as a shield against mental health conditions. Going to gym or working out at home cannot provide these benefits. When running in a natural environment, you are not distracted easily and your mind doesn't keep wandering. It is much easier to concentrate on what you are doing. This will improve your productivity and you will do more in less time. By now, running has greatly improved your sleeping habits. Your mind and body are getting much needed rest. A relaxed mind is a powerful mind and it results in better psychological functioning.
AFTER 6 MONTHS: Now you are starting to get the hang of it. Miles are coming along nicely. Going for the run is not as hard as it used to be and you are starting to get your mojo back. Running can significantly improve free testosterone levels in men, especially the intensive interval running workouts. Testosterone is responsible for high libidos and sex drive in men. Exercise can also improve the sperm count, while endurance training improves reproductive potential. All in all you will be a more desirable and attractive partner. The benefits are not limited to men. Research has also shown that 20 minutes of vigorous running can boost physiological sexual arousal in women. And the most interesting part is yet to come. In a survey by Brooks Running, 66% respondents said that couples who run together have sex more often. Not only that, but almost half of them think that the longer you run, the better your sex life. It sounds strange but running can make you better at expressing emotions and showing affection. A study found improvement in a male's attitude and behavioral issues. This is an interesting finding because men are generally not good at showing emotions. Suppressing emotions is not very healthy. Plus, showing affection and emotions will also help your friends and family.
Running just 7 - 14 miles a week can also keep your cholesterol levels in check. You are adhering to the American Heart Association's recommendation of 150 minutes of physical activity to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Another factor contributing to your cardiovascular health is low C-reactive protein levels. If you were living a sedentary lifestyle, just six months of running or exercise will result in 30% reduction in C-reactive protein. This will not only reduce the chances of inflammation, but your IQ will also improve. Training for your first marathon can reverse age related vascular stiffening. Running can trim up to 4 years off the arterial age. In other words, your arteries will be 4 years younger after a few months of long-distance running. All in all, running has significantly reduced the chances of heart attack, stroke, and other serious complications.
A study observed 51% reduction in hemoglobin A1C values in runners. This is a significant improvement. The results were even better for the group that combined aerobic exercise with weight training. If you already have diabetes, regular running will reduce the risk of diabetes related heart attack to 20% and eye or kidney damage to 40%. Another review of multiple studies found that diabetes patients can control blood sugar and depression via exercise. A study found that the exercise group managed to make healthy changes to their drinking and eating habits and the group that just received health advice, doesn't do much. Sound familiar? Because we do it all the time. We receive health advice and do nothing. Running will make you do things. Running results in a kind of connectivity that allows your brain to have higher-level thoughts. Thinking out of the box isn’t that hard because you can analyze and solve problems. It’s easier to focus on challenging tasks. You are more comfortable taking up and managing projects that requires attention to details. You will also excel in your job as a manager or leader. Decision making is a vital part in such roles, and daily exercise can significantly improve your ability to make decisions. This was observed in a 9-month study by American Council on Exercise and exercise resulted in 70% improvement in ability to make complex decisions.
AFTER A YEAR: It is almost a year since you've started running. That’s quite an achievement and the rewards are worth it. Running on a regular basis results in neuromuscular changes that leads to better running efficiency. You are now able to run longer distances while consuming less energy. Your muscles and tendons will adapt to high workload and it will help in other physical tasks or sports as well. Strong knees or back can mean so much especially as you age. Contrary to the popular belief, your knees will actually get healthier because of your regular running routines. An estimated 80% of the population suffers from back problems at some time in their life. It is one of the most common reasons for visit to doctors. Thanks to running, you will be able to keep these problems at bay. Earlier it was believed that exercise cannot help intervertebral discs in anyway. Mainly because it is too slow to respond, but a recent study has shown that running can actually strengthen the discs. Running will also strengthen your thighs, quads, or hamstrings. and these are some of the most important muscles in your body.
Mental and emotional sufferings cannot bog you down for long. Running produces the chemicals that help you fight and forget physical pain. It gives you the feel-good emotions. The benefits will multiply if you are combining aerobics with meditation. It will considerably reduce depressive feeling. Sedentary lifestyle results in sad and sucky feelings that just don’t go away. Running will break that cycle and have a rejuvenating effect on your mind and body. Running can actually improve your looks in many ways. You will get back in shape. Your complexion will improve, and you are less likely to face problems like acne or pimples. A more upright posture will also add to your appearance.
AFTER 10 YEARS: Many people gain unnecessary weight by the time they reach 40. Excessive weight becomes a breeding ground for problems like diabetes, obesity, or depression. You can manage to keep these problems at bay by running. Another common problem in the 40s or 50s is poor bone health and osteoporosis. 1 in 3 women suffer from osteoporosis fracture after the age 50. Luckily, your legs, knees, and backs are stronger than your contemporaries. You can considerably improve your bone health through running. Running strengthens your core muscles too. These muscles are responsible for supporting your stomach and spine. It makes it easy to maintain a healthy, upright posture. Running will considerably lower your risk of cancers like colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, or breast cancer. For good heart health, running or aerobics are considered the best form of exercise for cardiovascular health. Running is also helping you deal with emotional pain or suffering from the past. A study found that marathon runners tend to forget physical pain when inquired after six months. Overall good health means that there is a significantly lower chance of premature death.
AFTER 25 YEARS: You''ll look much younger than your age. This is because of regular physical activity that slows down biological aging. Research suggests that high levels of physical activity can reduce up to 9 year of biological aging. Skin is usually the first thing that gives away your age. Running can help you look much younger by keeping your skin healthy and fresh. A study found that 40 year old people who regularly exercise had skin like a 20 or 30 years old. Not just reducing biological aging, running will actually add years to your life. In a study, researchers found an average gain of 3.5 to 4.5 years in the life expectancy of people who performed regular exercise. People with smoking habit added 4.1 years. Non-smokers added 3 more years, while cancer survivors added as much as 5.3 years to their lives. Scientists followed 1000 adults for 21 years. All these adults were aged 50 or older. After 21 years, 85% runners were alive and kicking, while just 66% non-runners managed to survive. Another study found that the runners continue to live an active life and have fewer disabilities compared to the ones who don’t. They were also half as likely to die early deaths. Most runners in this study ran around 4 hours a week, though the time declined after 21 years. Keep in mind that this longevity is not because of just running. It is because of the habits and lifestyle changes you will cultivate through a regular exercise regime. We have discussed how running can help you adapt healthy eating habits, quit smoking, improve your sleep, and mental health. All these changes will definitely contribute to longevity. Scientists followed 20,000 people over a period of 35 years. After 35 years more than 10,000 people who did not jog died, only 122, who jogged on a regular basis died in the same period. That is a huge difference, but it is important to note that strenuous joggers had the same mortality rate as those who do not jog at all. Note: If you are under the care of a Physician, please check with them before starting any exercise regiment.