We know that running is good for you (or at least, I hope that’s the case) but the question that we’re going to try to answer here is why is running good for you?
As a long distance runner who runs every day, I know that for my own mental health, running every day is good for me. It’s about de-stressing and feeling good within myself.
Physically, the toll that running every day has on the body has started to make itself known. My aging body is now over 50 years of age and there are noticeably more creaks and groans as I get myself moving in the morning.
Health Benefits of Running
There are many arguments in favour of running and the benefits to our health that it can provide. Getting out and moving is a far more desirable outcome than sitting in front of a screen, we all know that.
The well-known and oft-cited benefits include increased fitness, weight loss, stronger bones, better circulation, more energy and stronger mentally.
But there are also some unexpected benefits to our health that comes from running and other activities.
- A University of Melbourne study into the health benefits of exercise (and this includes running, obviously) was released only this week. In this study it found that regular exercise can prevent memory loss and can fight dementia later in life.
- Good news for those not so keen on running, a research review short bursts of running can increase the lifespan by three to six years longer than non-runners. The amount of running required is surprisingly small, only around six miles per week can provide great benefit. This particular review came from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
- The final benefit I’m going to quote is one that I’ve personally experienced and that is that running strengthens your entire body. I know that during the times I haven’t been able to run I have developed little niggles and pains – particularly my back – that I don’t otherwise experience. Regular running helps me feel stronger and chases the pain away.
Benefits of Running Every Day
The body is a wonderfully adaptive organism. If I hadn’t experienced it myself I would scarcely have believed it.
In 2013 and 2014 I went for a run every day. I had been running for over 25 years but had always kept the number of days in a row to a minimum which meant I would average 4 or 5 runs per week. I fully subscribed to the complete rest day theory that is commonly accepted. That’s why, when I embarked on the challenge, I fully expected to quickly become exhausted in both mind and body.
But that’s not what happened at all. In fact, I think I became stronger. Not only was I running better, my body felt stronger in between runs and I found myself looking forward to my next run even more.
By 2016, not only was I running every day but I averaged over 11km per day. Compared to my previous regime of around 4-5 runs per week at an average distance per run of 7-8km (pre-2013), this is a significant increase.
I wouldn’t have thought I would be able to maintain the step up in workload.
But the body has quickly adapted. So much so that I actually look forward to my daily run, even though I am going further each day.
So, what benefits have I experienced?
- I feel particularly energized – more so than at any other point in my running life.
- I am definitely getting fitter again – no mean feat at 49 years of age.
- My run gives me a scheduled “down-time” every day. It’s my stress release each day.
- I’m able to engage in some friendly competition with my friends through my running
The bottom line is that running every day is not for everyone. You’ve got to know your body and listen to it.
Some people simply don’t have the body make-up to withstand the daily wear and tear that a significant run can place on it. I know that personally, 20 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
But I’ve been a regular runner for more than 30 years now. I’ve had a lifetime of strengthening go through my system. If running strengthens your bones then mine are well and truly properly prepared for a lot of running.
Other people may not be so lucky.