- Thiviya Srikanthan
How Healthy Is Running
Edited by: Luxshmi Nageswaran
If You Want a Multitude of Health Benefits, You Got to Run
The information provided in this article is not medical advice. Please speak to a healthcare professional for more information.
Humans are born to run. It is a form of physical activity that has been with us since the beginning of time, so surely there must be some health benefits.
According to Statistics Canada, the majority of Canadians are not getting adequate amounts of physical activity, leading to sedentary lifestyles. To protect yourself from several chronic conditions, regular physical activity is needed. One of the most affordable, accessible, and convenient forms of physical activity is running. You really just need a pair of sneakers to get started.
So why should you include running in your lifestyle? Running has many mental and physical health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, bone strength, and mental health.
In Canada, 1 in 12 adults live with cardiovascular disease. The costs associated with cardiovascular disease is estimated to be more than $22.2 billion per year (Smolderen, et al., 2010). Running is a form of aerobic exercise that significantly reduces heart disease risk (Cantwell, 1985). Studies show that runners have slow resting pulse rates and high maximal oxygen consumption levels. Runners are able to pump their blood more efficiently than sedentary people (Lee, et al., 2014). As well, running reduces the “bad” cholesterol levels in your blood. Basically, the more people run, the healthier the heart can be.
Another health benefit of running is improving bone strength. Running is a weight- bearing activity that produces force on the bones (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). The repetitive force can help promote growth and strength (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Improving bone strength is very important to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones and increases the risk of fractures (Osteoporosis Canada, 2021). As about 2 million Canadians are affected by this disease (Osteoporosis Canada, 2021),. it is important to have strong bones Especially as you get older to decrease the risk of developing it.
Finally, running can improve mental health. “Runner’s high” is a satisfied feeling a lot of people feel after going on a run (Linden, n.d). After running, this feeling released due to burst hormones such as endorphins and endocannabinoids that make you feel good and reduce pain (Linden, n.d).. As well, many studies suggest that running has positive impacts on depression anxiety, and lower stress levels (Oswald, et al., 2020). Many people like to talk about the physical benefits of running, but it is important to acknowledge the mental benefits as well. For many people, running is the easiest way to get the benefits of physical activity. From heart health to mental health, running will benefit you. Summary Notes:
Running is a form of physical activity that has been with us since the beginning of time.
Running is an affordable, accessible, and convenient form of physical activity.
Running reduces your risk for heart disease.
This physical activity can improve bone strength since it is a weight bearing activity
Running can improve your mental health. Studies show positive impacts on depression and anxiety.
Cons of Running
By: Shania Kalpee
Running is definitely a great way to move your body while completing the recommended physical activity guidelines however there are some disadvantages that might stay with you in the long-term that are associated with prolonged periods of running that should be spoken about. Running can put extra stress on an individual’s joints as well as their back which can eventually lead to hip and knee replacements (2). It can also increase the probability of developing more severe arthritis and chronic joint pain. Avid runners also have a higher probability of tearing or straining their muscles (3). Unfortunately, individuals who have been diagnosed as being overweight or have pre-existing joint injuries have a much greater risk of being injured more frequently from excessive running (2). There is not much information that show negative effects from running in the short term and not enough research has been done to show prolonged negative effects of running.
Many of the disadvantages of running can be prevented or decreased by following some recommended precautions (3):
Keeping yourself hydrated – before, during and after running
Footwear – ensuring that you have correct footwear would help relieve some of the pressure on the joints – should be replaced every 6 months/ every 400miles
Run on softer surfaces – such as grass, rubber tracks, asphalt
Mix in other type of low impact cardio- swimming or biking to reduce the impact on the same joints and muscles
Cons of Running References:
10 proven benefits of running: Why runners live better and longer. 10 Proven Benefits of Running: Why Runners Live Better and Longer. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://www.injurymap.com/articles/benefits-of-running.
Ask A DOC: Is running good or bad for you? Cedars. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/running.html.
The effects of running on the body: Good or bad? Ochsner Lafayette General. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://ochsnerlg.org/about-us/news/effects-running-body-good-or-bad.
Benefits of Running References:
Cantwell JD. Cardiovascular aspects of running. Clin Sports Med. 1985 Oct;4(4):627-40. PMID: 3902253.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 5). Benefits of physical activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm.
Lee, D. C., Pate, R. R., Lavie, C. J., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Leisure-time running reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 64(5), 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058
Linden, D. J. (n.d.). The truth behind 'Runner's high' and other mental benefits of running. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-truth-behind-runners-high-and-other-mental-benefits-of-running.
Osteoporosis Canada. (2021, August 6). Fast facts. Osteoporosis Canada. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://osteoporosis.ca/fast-facts/#:~:text=OSTEOPOROSIS%20FACTS%20AND%20STATISTICS,osteoporotic%20fracture%20during%20their%20lifetime.
Oswald F, Campbell J, Williamson C, Richards J, Kelly P. A Scoping Review of the Relationship between Running and Mental Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 1;17(21):8059. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17218059. PMID: 33139666; PMCID: PMC7663387.
Smolderen, K. G., Bell, A., Lei, Y., Cohen, E. A., Steg, P. G., Bhatt, D. L., Mahoney, E. M., & REACH registry investigators (2010). One-year costs associated with cardiovascular disease in Canada: Insights from the REduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (REACH) registry. The Canadian journal of cardiology, 26(8), 297–305. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0828-282x(10)70437-2