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Benefits of running

During lock down running became an integral part of keeping some routine in our household. I’ve never run as much as I have during this time and that got me thinking about the benefits of running.

Physical Health Benefits

From increasing cardiovascular fitness to weight loss and muscle strengthening there are many reasons to get out there and run! Being a weight bearing exercise, it also has the benefit of helping to strengthen bones.

Mental Health benefits

With running the first thing people probably think about is the physical health benefits. However, from personal experience and talking to other runners, I think one of the biggest benefits of running is in improving your mental health. Exercise in general is great for the mind but there is something about running that is just a bit different. Perhaps it’s being out in the fresh air, away from your phone and all other distractions. Whatever it is running for a lot of people helps clear their minds like nothing else. Some call this the runner’s high – try it, it’s good for you and is so addictive it will keep you coming back for more!

Ease/convenience

One of the main reasons I think running is a great option is convenience. It can be done at home, commuting to the office or on holiday. There is no added travelling time to the gym or tennis courts, just get your running gear on and you’re away… after a short warm up of course!

A few words about a warm up for running. The most important aspect of a warm up is elevating your heart rate. Starting your run with some fast walking, building into a slow jog and then finally getting up to your normal running pace is all that most people may need. If you have any particular injuries or niggles, do your rehab exercises first!

Is everyone suited to running – what about getting injured?

Something that concerns many people is whether they will injure themselves. Often running is associated with wear and tear/repetitive strain injuries and the high impact nature of running will be blamed for these.

It is true that other activities such as swimming may be deemed lower impact and may suit some people better. However, sometimes the fault isn’t with running itself but how people approach it. Not running for a year and then going out for a 5k run could lead to injury, as could going from running once a week to running every day.

The key in avoiding injuries is managing the load on the body by structuring how often you are running and for how far and at what pace – but that is the same for any activity.

A brilliant resource for someone starting a new running program is the NHS’s couch to 5k. It aims to get people with no running background into running safely by starting off gently and steadily increasing how far you are running over a number of weeks. However, if you do sustain an injury or have some niggles you would like sorted prior to starting, our Osteopaths would be happy to help.

You can find more help and advice on running here.

With all of these benefits in mind why not give running a go!?

Anthony Brindle, Associate Osteopath