Running Rx for Happy, Healthy Results

| Well Being

Like a therapy session that resets your mind, energizes your blood, warms your muscles and calms your anxieties, running is medicine. A good run is a solid aerobic workout. You can customize the doses and get a refill whenever you need it. "The Physical Activities Guidelines for America" states 75 minutes of jogging or running each week is required to improve your health and muscle tone. For the one in five women developing depression, this simple exercise can make just enough of a difference in controlling it. But there's benefits for everyone.

running outside

Running strengthens your joints. The more you move, the more your body adjusts to the demands. Running creates an impact on your ankles, knees and hips with every step. That impact signals the body to create more good fluid around the joints, which keeps the movement lubricated. Click here to add a jolt to your running speed.

If you already have joint problems, running might not be for you. But running does have the ability to prevent arthritic symptoms by improving strength and function.

Running makes you happier. Ever hear of the runner’s high? Well, it’s a real thing. When you push your body to a point of discomfort, your body responds with the release of endorphins. These little chemicals make the pain go away by distracting you with happy emotions. Click here to learn more about cardio's affect on the brain.

But there’s more to it.

There are chemicals called endocannabinoids released when you run just hard enough to trigger “stress” in the body. These chemicals are the body’s version of THC, which is what gives the “high” from marijuana. If you’re already feeling stress from a chaotic day, you’ll likely trigger the endocannabinoids faster. During the run and afterward, you’ll feel a sense of calm and lightness.

>> Read more: Playlist: Music to Run To and Playlist: Hip Hop Running

Running burns stored fat. When you run an a steady pace, your body burns fat for fuel. It breaks it down through glycolsis. Fat gives nine calories of energy per gram, compared to four calories of energy per gram for glucose. That potential makes fat a super energy source (and difficult to use a lot at once).

It’s important to understand that although aerobic exercise burns fat, more vigorous exercise like sprints and interval training burns more calories overall. The number of calories you burn equates to the weight you can lose. So mix up your run with hills, sprints, obstacles and speed changes. Or you can stick with low-intensity runs and a better managed diet. (via ACE)

If you’re new to running, start slow and train smart. You might not feel or notice these benefits right away, but once you pick up the pace, they’ll be there waiting for you.