We all know that running is excellent for our health as human beings. But, do you know what 5 incredible things happen to your body when you run every day?
‘Run every single day, are you having a laugh?’
Yes. Run every single day, and no. I’m not having a laugh.
Before you read about the benefits of running every day, it’s first necessary to dispel the illusion that running everyday is impossible. It isn’t and it is certainly something that it achievable.
I have run at least one mile every day since New Year’s Eve 2018 and I can hands-on heart tell you that it’s easier than you think. I have also experienced the benefits of running everyday first hand so I know how great life feels when you run every day.
All you need to do is have clean clothes for everyday of the week, make the daily running a habit (best done by running at the same time every day) and making a personal commitment to follow through.
You don’t even have to run that far every day. The objective is to accelerate your heart rate, work up a light sweat and get the blood flowing throughout the body.
Though I’d always recommend running about 3-4 miles a day to get maximum benefits, sometimes this isn’t possible due to schedules and other commitments. On busy days, a single mile should suffice to enable you to reap the benefits. On single mile days, try to ensure you get some brisk walking in too.
For help building a daily running habit, check out this blog post.
Right. Now that we’ve set the record straight and affirmed that running everyday is possible, let’s look at 5 incredible things that happen to your body when you run every day.
1. Your cardiovascular health improves
What is cardiovascular health?
Cardiovascular health refers to the overall condition of the system that pumps blood around the body. This incredible system comprises of the lungs, blood vessels, veins, arteries, capillaries, and the heart.
The cardiovascular system works in harmony to supply oxygen and nutrient containing blood to all parts of the body so they can continue to operate as effectively as possible. The system also works to carry carbon dioxide and other waste materials to the lungs, kidneys, and digestive system to be removed from your body.
What’s more, blood also fights infections and transports crucial hormones around the body. In short, our cardiovascular systems are essential for maintaining an excellent quality of live.
How does running improve our cardiovascular health?
Exercise is a great for the cardiovascular system because it gives the heart and the lungs an excellent workout which improve their efficiency.
Overtime, the lungs become more efficient at bringing oxygen into the body and the heart becomes more efficient at pumping oxygenated around the body with less work. This means our body finds it easier to supply itself with essential nutrients and oxygen when its needed.
Running everyday also improves blood pressure. When you run every day, your arteries expand and become more flexible which allows blood to flow without restriction and tension.
What’s more, since running everyday makes the heart stronger this means that the heart can pump more blood with less effort which reduces the force on the arteries to get blood around the body thus lowering blood pressure.
2. Stronger and more defined leg muscles
Ever fancied having a decent pair of legs that catch your attention (and hopefully that of others)? Running everyday can make that vision a reality. If you run every day, your leg muscles will become stronger and more defined.
When we workout, our muscles tear ever so slightly. The body rebuilds these damaged muscles stronger than before which explains how we develops strength over time. Running constantly means the muscle groups in your legs are tearing slightly and being repaired so that they’re stronger.
The style in which muscle is built depends on the type of running you’re doing.
If you want to build leaner leg muscles, focus on long-distance running. If you’re after bulky leg muscles, focus on sprinting exercises.
We use different types of muscle fibre dependant on the style of running that we do. These two types are called fast-twitch and slow twitch.
Fast-twitch muscle fibres are strong but tire quickly and are used when you are sprinting. Slow-twitch muscle fibres receive a decent oxygen supply and can be used for longer periods of time like in marathons.
3. Your mental health improves
We all know that running is amazing for physical health, but how many of us know about the mental health benefits?
It may surprise you to hear that exercise can help to reduce depression, combat low mood, improve self-esteem and lead to a general feeling of positivity when done on a regular basis.
Running encourages the production of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain known as serotonin, dopamine and reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol. This explains why you have such a natural high after exercising.
Running everyday can also contribute to an improvement in self-esteem. According to the NHS, ‘self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.’ When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about live in general.
To improve your self-esteem, it’s necessary to do things that you know you should be doing and will have a meaningful impact on your life. Running certainly meets these criteria. A run a day can help keep low self-esteem at bay so consider starting the habit if you’re not already doing so.
For more information, check out the following blog post:
4. You’ll become and feel physically fitter
The metaphor of a house and its foundation to illustrate the importance of health
My favourite metaphor for our health in relation to our life is that of the foundation of a house.
The house is full of character, various rooms, and bits and pieces. The house represents our life with its many seasons and emotions. The foundation, however, sits below the house and is often unseen and not thought of so therefore its importance is sometimes unconsidered.
Regardless of the quality of the house and how spectacular the designers wish for it to be, the house cannot be built and enjoyed unless it has a strong foundation to support it. Should the foundation be weak and unstable, the house is literally a ticking time bomb and could collapse at any moment.
This metaphor can be used to illustrate that decent health is essential for a decent quality of life.
The link between sedentary activity and disease
The World Health Organization have said that a sedentary lifestyle (sitting around and not moving much) can be attributed to serious health conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, lipid disorders, anxiety, obesity, amongst many more.
In short, physical inactivity reduces our overall fitness which increases risk factors for developing health damaging conditions and diseases.
How running everyday makes you become and feel physically fitter
- Disease prevention
Running everyday will reduce your chances of developing certain illnesses. We’ve already mentioned that running can improve your cardiovascular health by regulating healthy blood pressure and improving the efficiency of the heart of the lungs.
However, that’s not all when it comes to running and disease prevention. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing many types of cancer like colon, breast, heart and of the lung. It can also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, amongst many more.
- Immune system
The immune system is the bodies defence mechanism against harmful microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.
This system plays a vital role in our body as it enables us to stay healthy and well, free from nasty infection. If your immune system is working as it should, you won’t even notice it’s operating.
If you’re someone who regularly gets colds, it’s possible that you have a weak immune system and could benefit from improving it.
Evidence shows that regular exercises improves the overall system of the immune system.
When you run, blood is pumped around the body at a higher rate which causes the defensive cells within the immune system to circulate your system better.
As a result, your body is well supplied with the right cells to defend against foreign invading cells which may cause illness and the rates of infection should decrease.
- Cognitive function
Studies have shown that exercise improves cognitive function. Imagine what life would be like if you could concentrate better. Better presentations at work, more hours put into studying, a greater desire to learn new things, paying more attention to your partner and their emotions.
If you find it hard to concentrate on a task and give it your undivided attention for an extended time, you could benefit from running every day.
In this video, Ben Martynoga, a British neuroscientist, says that a few recent studies have showed that after a run people were much better able to control their attention, avoid distraction and switch between tasks.
He then goes on to say that another study showed that brain scans of runners compared to non-runners. In this study, the scientists they found that there were functional differences in the parts of the brain involved in executive function (e.g. operating attention, focusing).
Running can also contribute to improvements in learning and memory abilities. This is because of a protein called ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ (BDNF), responsible for learning and memory, being produced in greater quantities when we exercise.
If a run a day can help you improve your cognitive function, it is a habit well-worth forming.
5. Your sleep will improve
Why is sleep so important?
‘The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. The leading causes of disease and death in developed nations—diseases that are crippling health-care systems, such as heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, and cancer—all have recognized causal links to a lack of sleep.’ ― Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis is fundamental for a good standard of living. Sleep is natures way of resetting our brain and bodily health each day.
Sleep deprivation is linked to disease development, cognitive decline, higher rates of dangerous accidents, a decline in learning, weight gain, depression, anxiety, irrationality, and low productivity.
Sleep is essential for all facets of our lives and it is very much within our best interest to secure a good night of the stuff every single day.
Sleep can be aided by running every day
In a 2012 study, the sleep of adolescents who ran thirty minutes in the morning every day improved significantly compared to a control group.
Exercise during the day increases the amount of slow wave sleep (the type that is deep and restores the brain and the body). Regular running also raises the core body temperature. 30 to 90 minutes after the run is finished, the body temperature starts to fall which helps to facilitate sleepiness (if running at the end of the day).
Personally, I suffered from insomnia for three years before I started running every day. I’d lay in bed for hours contemplating how tired I’d feel in the morning. Thankfully, I started a daily running habit and the average time it takes for me to get to sleep is now ten to fifteen minutes. Needless to say, the quality of my life has improved drastically.
If you want to improve your sleep life, I’d highly recommend starting a daily running habit.