The physical effects of running – how running affects your body

There’s no doubt about it: running changes you. From an increase in endurance to the control over your body fat composition and heart health, running can help you become a happier, healthier, fitter individual. Let’s take a look at some of the physical effects of running and why, if you haven’t already, it’s time to get out there a give it a try.

Your body on a run

When you run, things happen. Your body releases chemicals (endorphins) that provide you with the energy you need to move. Your body temperature rises, calories begin to burn away and you sweat. Depending on your level of fitness, after a certain period, fatigue causes you to slow down and makes you want to stop. Post-run, however, you actually feel more energised, and your mood becomes elevated – this is because, during your run, the endorphins your brain has released for energy are the very same kind that lift your spirits and make you feel happy.

Physical effects of running to be aware of

While the positives of running massively outweigh any negatives, there are a couple of side effects that you should always be prepared for:

· Reduction in muscle mass – This can be seen as a positive or a negative, depending on your goals. When we run, our body’s instincts kick in and it starts trying to rid itself of any unnecessary weight that might slow it down, and this includes muscle. If you are running as part of a plan to lose fat while retaining muscle, then it’s important for you tp consume sufficient protein to guard against the risk of muscle loss. Also, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a good way of running (i.e., shorter bursts such as sprints) to bring about fat loss without losing muscle.

· Sagging chest – For women, running can result in sagging breasts if you don’t wear the correct type of bra. No matter your size, choose a sports bra when you run to give your chest the right support, increase your comfort levels and reduce any chance of sagging.

· Knee pain – While the idea that running will damage your knees is largely a myth, it is important to take measures to reduce your chances of developing sore knees from your efforts. Build up your leg muscles, wear the correct footwear and maybe even opt for knee support in the form of straps or kneepads.

Physical benefits of running

Running provides your body with a tremendous amount of physical benefits. Here are just a few to get you motivated.

Healthier heart – Running is great for your heart. By running regularly, you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, both of which are indicators of heart health. Running also helps you to lose or maintain weight. Being overweight puts a tremendous strain on your heart, so when you lighten the load, you reduce the stress on your body’s most important organ.

Faster metabolism – Metabolism refers to the chemical process of burning calories. We all naturally have fast or slow metabolisms, which affects our body’s ability to burn calories or store them as fat. If you have a fast metabolic rate, you will burn more calories in a set time than you would if your metabolism were slower. The faster your metabolism, the less likely you are to accumulate fat. Running changes your body’s metabolism. The energy you expend while running helps you to increase the volume of calories burned. And the more intense the run, the longer your metabolism will stay ‘sped up’, even after your exercise is over.

Increased energy – Ever wonder why you feel energised after a great run? It’s a combination of physical factors that boost our energy in both the short and long term. First, when we run, our hearts pump, and this enhanced blood flow delivers more oxygen to muscles all over our body. Second, regular running leads to better cardiovascular stamina and reduces the demand on the lungs, enabling our body to use energy more efficiently. Third, running can help us get better sleep and rest, which leads to more energy during the day.

Stronger legs – When we run, we use all the muscles in our legs, big and small. If you are new to running, you might be surprised by how quickly you start to develop lean muscle in your legs and the speed at which you build endurance. It should be noted that if you are looking to add mass to your leg muscles, you should include weight training in your exercise routine.

Sharper mind – Another of the physical benefits of running is the effect on your brain. Not only will running keep you physically fit but it will also improve your cognitive abilities. It’s been suggested that regular running can improve your memory and protect against future cognitive conditions, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Running also increases the serotonin levels in your brain, fighting stress and generating a more positive way of looking at the world.

More than just the physical effects of running

Running is a brilliant way to exercise. It’s low cost, convenient, you can do it almost anywhere, and everyone, from running veterans to those just taking their first steps, start reaping the rewards almost immediately. So much so that you just might not want to stop.