Since running is a type of cardio exercise, many of the running health benefits are related to cardiovascular health. Any exercise that speeds up your heart rate classifies as cardiovascular exercise because it is beneficial to your cardiovascular system in the long run.
Some Running Health Benefits
Running is beneficial to your health in several ways. First and foremost, running gets your heart working, which strengthens and protects your heart against cardiovascular disease, diminishing your risk for heart problems throughout your entire life.
In addition to working your heart extensively, running burns an incredibly high number of calories per hour. For this reason, many people use running as an exercise method to lose weight. Depending on how far and how fast you run, you can burn up to 600 calories per hour. This estimate also depends on your body mass; the heavier you are, the more energy it takes for your body to run for an hour.
Not only will your heart get in shape and will some extra calories and fat be burned off your frame, but running also helps strengthen certain muscle groups. While running cannot strengthen all of your body's muscles at once, the lower body's muscles can become considerably well strengthened through running alone. Take note that most runners extensively stretch their calves and hamstring muscles so as to prevent these muscles from becoming disproportionately large in comparison to the rest of their musculature.
In addition to these general running health benefits, you can reap other benefits depending on your choice of running routine.
While some runners go for a leisurely jog, other runners do sprints up staircases. Which is better? Neither! All intensity levels and speeds have health benefits, it's just that different types of running routines have different health benefits.
Some runners go for a long, almost leisurely, jog each day. If this sounds like your type of running, you are enhancing your cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Making your body sustain a moderate pace for an extended period of time is a great way to train your body and clear your mind at the same time. This type of running routine has considerable stress-relieving properties, which means the physical workout will help you sleep at night, but also your clarity of mind will help you drift off, peacefully, into dreamland.
Other runners prefer the challenge and satisfaction that comes from sprinting as fast as you possibly can. Some runners do this with a stopwatch and sprint for a set amount of time, while other runners set a distance goal and sprint until they reach that destination. Sprinting shocks your body into a high level of performance, the challenge of which is very satisfying for some athletes. Be careful with this type of running. Get your doctor's permission before trying this and even if you have your doctor's permission, be sure to thoroughly warm up and cool down before and after your workout.
In some senses, doing interval training is the best possible running workout. Doing intervals consists of jogging a certain distance and then sprinting a certain distance, which varies the intensity of your workout in speed. In addition, intervals usually include a variation in strength intensity, which can be done by running, at intervals, on a flat surface and then uphill. Downhill is also a good option. Intervals not only make your workout more interesting, they also increase the caloric burn of your workout and train your muscles to a higher degree if you include variations in terrain.
All running workouts include multiple health benefits, but whichever type of workout is your favorite is the one you should choose to pursue. Only a workout you enjoy is one that you're likely to get up off the couch and do. Try each type until you find one you like. For beginners, jogging is a great way to get started.