11 Reasons to Start Running

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11 Reasons to Start Running

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People start running for a variety of reasons. Some run because they want to lose weight, improve their health, compete in races or try something new.

Whatever your reason is for running, you'll experience many physical, mental and emotional benefits from the sport. Here are some great reasons to get started with running.

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Running improves your health.

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One of the biggest benefits of running is that it's good for your health. Running is an excellent way to strengthen the heart and ensure the efficient flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, which helps decrease your risk of a heart attack. Exercise, combined with maintaining a healthy weight, is one of the best ways to naturally reduce your blood pressure if it's above normal. If you have high cholesterol, running can also help keep it in check.

Running also improves your immune system, so your body functions are more effective and efficient at fighting off germs. Running and other weight-bearing exercises increase bone density, which can fend off osteoporosis.

3
You can lose weight.

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Many people start running to lose some extra pounds. As one of the most vigorous exercises out there, running is an extremely efficient way to burn calories and lose weight. If you're already at a healthy weight, running can help you maintain it.

Just make sure you don't think running gives you a license to eat anything you want. The basic rule of weight loss — that you must burn (through life functions and exercise) more calories than you take in — still applies to runners.

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You can meet new people through running.

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Some runners enjoy the quiet and solitude of running on their own, but others see running time as social opportunities. Finding a running buddy or running with a group is a great way to develop a sense of community. You can set goals and accomplish them together. In addition, having a regular running buddy or running group is a great way to stay motivated to run.

Some runners also share advice and motivation with other runners in online forums or through social media. You can meet other people who share your obsession with running, celebrate your triumphs, and help you overcome your obstacles.

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5
You can run for a cause.

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Running can also be used as a way to contribute to society as a whole. Many races benefit charities, and some charities offer race training in exchange for fund-raising. Running for something that's bigger than you is a great way to stay motivated to keep training and can make your races even more meaningful and fulfilling.

More:   Fundraising Tips for Charity Runners
 

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You can experience something new and different.

Running is a great way to expand your horizons and break away from the daily grind. The sport gives people the opportunity to explore areas of their own community or new locations, experience new physical sensations and run places they may not normally see.

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You can train for a specific goal.

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Some people hate to exercise just for the sake of exercising, but with running, though, you can train for races, from 5Ks to marathons and beyond. Training for a race gives you a specific goal to work toward, which can definitely help improve your motivation to run.

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8
Running improves your energy levels.

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When you're feeling sluggish or tired, running is a great way to boost your energy. Runners who run in the morning report that they have improved energy levels during the day. Indeed, a 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.  Combining running with a healthful diet will help improve your energy levels even more.

More:
9 Ways to Get More Energy

9
Running will help you feel good about yourself.

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Regular runners report an increase in their confidence and self-esteem, and the self-esteem benefits of running are increased if you set a specific goal, such as running a 5K or even a marathon, and accomplish it. These benefits will undoubtedly spill over to other areas, such as your professional and personal life.

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Running is versatile and inexpensive.

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Running requires very little equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere. You don't even need a gym membership. All you need is a good pair of running shoes, and you can head out your door to go for a run. From city sidewalks to wooded trails, there are plenty of places for runners to explore — at no cost. If you travel a lot, it's easy to pack your running shoes and run while you're on the road.

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11
You'll be part of a community.

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The sense of community among runners first attracted me to running and it continues to be one of the reasons I’m so passionate about the sport. Runners share a bond that goes deep and they support each other in running and many other aspects of their lives. They have shared experiences, both good and bad, that allows them to connect on so many levels. Many runners find that their running communities inspire and motivate them to continue running.

Running also allows people to come together to help others, whether it's encouraging one another to achieve personal health and athletic goals, raising money for causes, or making a difference in their community.

Also see:  4 Ways Runners Can Give Back

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Running can help with stress relief.

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Running — as with many forms of exercise — is a great cure for stress, emotional strain and even mild depression. Anyone who has experienced a runner's high knows that the endorphins -- those feel-good hormones -- produced by running can boost your mood. Research has shown that healthy adults who exercise regularly are generally happier than those who don't.

Sources:

"Daily Morning Running for 3 Weeks Improved Sleep and Psychological Functioning in Healthy Adolescents Compared With Controls"  Kalak, Nadeem et al.  Journal of Adolescent Health , Volume 51 , Issue 6 , 615 - 622

"Effects of treadmill running and resistance exercises on lowering blood pressure during the daily work of hypertensive subjects" Mota MR, et al. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 2009

Exercise for Mood and Anxiety, Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being, by Michael W. Otto, PhD, and Jasper A.J. Smits, PhD (Oxford University Press, 2011)

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