Five reasons running is a good choice for life
1. Running greatly improves cardio-respiratory fitness.
Breaking it down to absolute basics, your body ticks over by air and food going in, then blood moving it all around. The importance of the efficiency of your circulatory and respiratory systems for health cannot be underestimated – they deliver the things your cells need to function, and take away things that would otherwise cause harm. The better this works, the better you feel. Running stresses this system, as more muscles ask for more energy to go faster or further, and over time your body adapts to accommodate this. Your heart actually grows (it’s called hypertrophy), so it pumps a greater volume of blood with every beat, resulting in a lower resting heart rate. Your functional lung capacity increases. You develop more red blood cells and more vessels to better carry oxygen around. These are all really good things. Bottom line? You’ll go less red when you have to hoof it across the city to make that meeting on time, won’t crack a sweat when you take the stairs and feel less flustered rushing for the tram/train/bus - because let’s face it: so much cooler to glide on with a hair flick and a knowing I-just-did-that-to-get-a-sprint-in smile than burgundy and coughing up a lung.
2. It builds functional muscle.
Functional as in, useful for life. Health professionals refer to a patients ability to perform ‘activities of daily living’ as a marker for how well (or not) someone can physically manage the demands of everyday. You might scoff because really, how hard is doing life? But break a leg or give yourself a room-spinning hangover and things suddenly aren’t so great. Muscle atrophy (the wasting away of muscle tissue – not in a fashion week diet way), poor neuromuscular control (your brain/body connection literally dropping the ball) and inefficient circulation (blood delivery not meeting KPIs) can result in similar incapacitation, with long haul effects. If you find yourself out of action your friendly health professional won’t be looking out for how many chin ups you can do, or how heavy you can clean-and-press. The big ones, physically, are all to do with lower limb strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness. Just sayin’- running helps all of these, and will seriously help set you up for later life.
3. Running gives you headspace.
There’s no denying the power of a meditative state – but not everyone has the time or capacity to achieve it by sitting still. It might sounds counter intuitive, but running will get you there too. The repetitive motion, the focus on breathing, the intense physicality that can either draw your mind from a tangle of thoughts and emotions to focus purely on the task at hand, or give you the freedom to mentally wander. Call it the runner’s high or put it down to diverting blood away from your head while you’re giving it legs…but it’s really a thing, and it’s amazing.
4. There are infinite variations.
You could run from your front door every day for the rest of your life and never do the same run twice. To be honest you probably won’t, but you COULD. Mix up the route, the distance, the tempo, the time, the music you're listening to, the shoes you’re wearing, the volume of New Zealand Pinot you drank last night, the amount of stress in your life, the weather…if it’s boring, you’re doing it wrong. You’re not going to love it the same every time, but if you have a crap one, guess what? You can do a totally different run tomorrow.
5. You can take it with you wherever you go.
Work trip? Holiday? Move across the city/country/world? It’s still accessible, and as a bonus is a really nice way to explore a new place. You’ll never be able to take your gym with you in the same way, but it’s a cruel truth that your fitness level will decrease in far less time than it takes to build it up – so use it or lose it, wherever you are.