Running is one of the most popular ways to stay fit, and more people are taking up the sport every day. Before the 1980s, running was predominantly a man’s sport, but today, men and women, young and old, hit the streets and the trails for fun and fitness in the outdoors. Here’s a look at what makes running such an attractive sport for so many people.
Spend Time in the Outdoors
While some get their miles in on the treadmill, many people prefer to run outside, taking in the fresh air and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
If you live in the heart of a major city, though, check the air quality index in your area to make sure that it is safe to run outside. Look for parks and other open, green spaces to protect your lungs while running.
Control Your Weight
The amount of calories you burn while running depends on a number of factors, including your height, weight, age, gender and metabolism, to name a few. You can expect to burn approximately 100 calories per mile.
Even if you are a beginner and can only run a single mile, those calories will add up quickly if you run multiple times a week. As an added bonus, working out revs up your metabolism, so you continue to burn extra calories for hours after your run, helping to keep your weight in check.
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Running gets your heart pumping, and any exercise that raises your heart rate helps to boost your cardiovascular health. Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger the more you push it. If you suffer from any type of heart condition, check with your doctor before beginning any new fitness regimen to ensure that you are exercising safely.
When you run, your lung capacity increases as well, helping your body to run more efficiently and making it easier to get through your daily activities, even on the toughest days. When you get through your chores and other tasks easily, you have more energy for fun things like playing with your kids or going out for drinks with friends.
Build Willpower and Determination
It takes some serious willpower to lace up your shoes and get out the door, especially when the weather isn’t ideal for running, like during the winter and when it rains. On days with bad weather, tap into your deepest reserves of willpower to get going.
Getting out the door is the hardest part, but as with any other skill, your willpower will improve the more you practice it. Before you know it, you’ll be lacing up those sneakers and hitting the road without giving it a second thought.
To get around excuses on bad-weather days, commit to running for just five minutes. That always seems manageable, which can make it easier to get going. Once you get started, you may find that you’re more than willing to keep on running.
Enjoy a Competitive Spirit
Road races have exploded in popularity in recent years, so it’s time to get in on the action. Don’t worry if you are still a novice runner; today’s races typically offer multiple distances for you to choose from. A 5k is just over 3 miles, so it’s an accessible distance for runners of all skill and experience levels. Some races even offer 1-mile runs, so it’s easy to get started.
From Turkey Trots on Thanksgiving morning to Valentine’s Day Undie Runs, numerous opportunities exist for you to get out and race throughout the year. Don’t worry about keeping up with the pack if their pace is too fast for you. Go at your own speed and shoot for a personal best. As your endurance level improves, you can start pushing yourself a bit harder to compete with other runners.
Get Fit with Friends
Running clubs are popping up all across the country, so there is sure to be one in your area, or you can start your own. Social media and other online platforms make the process easier than ever before. Look for a group that matches your running style and skill level.
For example, if you have a baby at home, look for a stroller running group. Similarly, if you prefer running on trails than roads, find a group that shares your interest in getting off the beaten path. Whichever running group you choose, you’ll be getting fit with like-minded people and may even make some lifelong friends in the process.
Get Your Zen On
One of the greatest parts about running is that it helps you to forget about all your worries and stresses. While you’re running, you’re often so focused on just pushing through the next quarter of a mile that all other thoughts are pushed from your mind. Without all that noise cluttering up your mind, you are free to just enjoy being in the moment.
It’s a sort of meditation in a way, giving you a zen feeling that will carry on long after your run is finished. As you run, feel free to let your mind wander. Many runners swear that they get their best ideas while running, because their minds aren’t bogged down with day-to-day details and have more freedom to think creatively.
The Elusive Runner’s High
We’ve all heard of runner’s high, one of the most incredible aspects of running. From time to time, you may get into that perfect rhythm with your stride where it feels like you could run forever. All the pain and stiffness melt away from your legs and you seem to just fly through the miles.
Never felt runner’s high? Don’t worry. It takes a bit of practice and training to get in good enough shape to the point where running feels good. Let this be your motivator: to feel truly free and on top of the world. Have a bit of patience. Once you hit that runner’s high for the first time, you’ll want to get that feeling back again and again.
Get Started Today
All you need to get started with running is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes, which you probably have in your closet already. Taking that first step is always the hardest part, but once you get started, you may find a love for running that you never knew existed.