You already know that running is important; otherwise, you’d have spent your money on chocolate bars and pretzels instead of your running shoes.
Why is running so worthwhile? The reasons run the gamut: to lose weight, relieve stress, eat more without gaining weight, challenge oneself, stay young, get into better shape, etc.
And that’s not the whole story, as we’re going to see in today’s post.
Exercise, in general, prevents a host of health issues that can cause severe or chronic illness, disability, and even early death, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.
In today’s post, I’ll look into some of the ways running, and exercise, help protect against common diseases and illnesses.
Are you excited?
Here we go.
1. Run away from Cancer
Cancer. The curse of the modern age. The deadly disease that claims the lives of millions worldwide. Cancers of the colon, the breast, the lung, and the rectum are some of the most common. Getting diagnosed with one of these affections is tantamount to a death sentence.
Here is the good news. Regular exercise reduces the risks of many types of cancer, including some of those above, according to a review of 170 epidemiological studies published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Not convinced yet? Check the following research out of the Public Health Sciences Division.
In the research, subjects who engaged in a regular cardio exercise of over one hour per day, six days a week, drastically reduced the cellular propagation patterns in the colon linked to polyps and—over time—cancer.
Another evidence-based meta-analysis of 67 articles, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, examined lifestyle factors that influence breast cancer recurrence rates. These include weight management, exercise, nutrition habits, smoking, etc. Exercise and weight management were revealed to be the most crucial lifestyle choices for reducing cancer recurrence rates.
Research also shows that regular exercise can help relieve some of the side effects of cancer treatment, including fatigue and nausea, for almost all cancer patients.
What’s more? Roughly a third of all cancers can be avoided by being active, eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy weight, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Research also reveals that regular exercise, can cut the risks of cancer recurrence or death by as much as 50 percent in people with colorectal cancer.
I could go on and on about the regular impact exercise has on cancer, but you get the picture….and it’s a substantial positive impact.
2. Dodge Heart Disease
Cardiovascular exercise, again especially running, can help boost your heart’s health and strengthen your heart muscles, which does your blood pressure good, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). 150-minutes of brisk physical exercise per week is enough to keep blood pressure in the healthy range, the same organization revealed on their website.
And it’s not just the AHA that says so. Plenty of research has reached similar conclusions, revealing that regular exercise reduces the risk of blood pressure, increases good cholesterol (HDL) levels, and lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, increases your heart’s working capacity, and improves blood flow—all essential factors in the prevention of heart disease.
One example is a report published in Circulation found that aerobic exercises such as running, swimming and cycling have beneficial effects on blood pressure and hypertension in afflicted patients.
Further research conducted at The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Life Science Division at Berkley, found that running lowers risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol—the main risk factors for cardiovascular issues.
3. Runners Suffer From Fewer Disabilities And Live Longer
Running slows the aging clock, research conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine has revealed.
The researchers tracked 538 runners and 423 healthy non-runners for a 21-year period.
Virtually all subjects were aged 50 and over and were asked to take a health and disability assessment each year. The test measured the ability to perform mundane tasks like walking, opening a milk carton, getting out of a chair, cutting meat, etc.
The conclusion? Older runners reported fewer disabilities and were half as likely as non-runners to die prematurely than their non-running peers. In fact, by the end of the experiment, 85 percent of runners group were still kicking, whereas that number dwindled to only 66 percent in the other group.
Another long-term prospective study of over 370 members of a running club aged 50 or older and 249 control subjects has added more substance to the fact that running could help prevent disability and early mortality in elderly individuals.
4. Outdo Obesity
Is obesity a disease? I’d argue that’s the case.
Guess what’s one of the best things you can do to help you lose weight and get into a better shape? Yes, running. Hitting the pavement regular is exactly what you need to prevent excess weight gain and help keep those extra pounds off for good.
The main reason I took up running, and still the biggest impetus driving many to hit the pavement, is to lose weight. Whenever I ask my friends or blog readers about their motivation for running, 8 out of 10 expresses a desire to attain, or keep a healthy weight. At about 100 calories per mile, running is a fantastic calorie burner. In effect, a 200-pound person can burn more than 900 calories in an hour.
Science backs this up. Subjects who logged in 30 or more miles a week gained fewer pounds than those who ran less than ten miles, according to a Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study of over 100,000 runners.
Being obese, in case you’re still wondering, is bad for you for many reasons.
Obesity is of the main culprits behind type II diabetes. According to this study, shedding roughly 5 to 7 percent of body weight can reduce the frequency of the condition by 58 percent. That’s a steep margin if you ask me.
What’s more? The research also found that with consistent exercise, both insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism are drastically improved and increased. This means that your body’s cell can transfer glucose better and more efficiently into the cells of the liver, muscles and adipose tissue.
But here is the little caveat. Weight loss is a numbers game—meaning you will only shed pounds if you burn more calories than you take in. You also need to eat healthily, and sensibly to create the calorie deficit, you need to shed weight. Otherwise, attaining a healthy body weight will always be out of your reach.
5. Fortify Your Bones
Osteoporosis is a serious public health problem that affects 200 million people worldwide, with roughly 40 million in the United States alone, according to the National Institute of Health.
Standing “porous bones,” this condition features weak and easily broken bones, especially in the hips, spine, wrists, and shoulders. The crippling disease occurs when the body loses too much bone density, makes too little it, or both.
Again, running seems to help with this crippling condition.
In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, a team of researchers examined bone density of 122 marathon runners, as well as 81 half-marathon and 10K race athletes.
Then, after undergoing an ultrasonography assessment of the right and left calcaneus; the researchers compared the athletes’ bones with those of 75 sedentary individuals.
The runners’ group had a much healthier bone density than the sedentary group. Not only that, but the scans also showed that the half marathon and marathon runners had better bone density than shorter distance athletes.
Another research out of the University of Missouri found that running is better for building strong bones than traditional resistance training.
There you have it. The above are some of the common diseases you can prevent with regular exercise. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the full list by any means, nor does it mean that exercise can turn you into a disease-free immortal human. But it’s still one of the best things you can do to keep living a healthier and more productive life.
The rest is just detail
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
Thank you for dropping by.
Keep Running Strong