Running is one of those sports you can pick up at any point, at any skill level and you won't even need any special gear either – although some is recommended for added comfort, like the best running shoes (opens in new tab), a good running watch (opens in new tab) and some running headphones (opens in new tab) wouldn't hurt either. To help convince you, here are five reasons why you should start running. We've got some tips on what to wear, too.
Running regularly has a range of benefits, including improved physical and mental health, but it can also make you sleep better and some studies suggest it can improve your memory, too. Whether the last statement is true or not, running certainly has more benefits than drawbacks, and if you embark on the journey of becoming a runner, you won't regret it, on the contrary.
Once you started running, you will see and feel the benefits of it very soon. It is easy for runners to lose weight fast (opens in new tab), as detailed below, but on top of that, running can also help you maintain weight loss easier, unlike 'just' going on a diet, for example.
Read the below reasons if you need one last nudge to start running...
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5 reasons why you should try running
You can just go for a run at any point during the day, especially if you are not doing a tempo session. Saying that, stretching before and especially after your runs is recommended, to loosen up the muscles a bit. Get a foam roller (opens in new tab) or another massage tool (opens in new tab), they are fairly inexpensive but work great nevertheless.
Also, after your runs, drink some water to replace the water that left your body through sweating. If you are going for longer runs – anything around or over an hour – take some water with you using a reusable water bottle (opens in new tab). We don't want to further pollute the environment with single use plastics.
Eating right is also important when it comes to running and in general, too. Try not to eat anything half an hour prior to your run, but ideally leave an hour this. After your runs, especially if you went for a longer run, consider eating or drinking something with high protein content, let it be protein snacks (opens in new tab), protein powder (opens in new tab) shake or just some nuts and fruit.
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1. Running will make you happy
Everyone has heard of the runner's high, this feeling of euphoria that runners experience when they devour the miles. Exercising – and running in particular – releases endorphins in your body which will make you feel happier. Endorphins are natural pain relievers and its release in the body is an evolutionary response to different forms of stress, one of these being long-distance running.
If you haven't tried running before, don't imagine runner's high as being under the influence of drugs. You won't find running easier because of it but you will have a feeling that you wouldn't mind doing it again, immediately after you finished running.
The more you run, the more often you will feel this and the more endorphin will be released in your body, making you a more balanced and happier person overall.
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2. Running will help you lose weight faster and maintain weight easier
Kind of an obvious one next: running – being a cardio exercise – can effectively help you lose weight fast (opens in new tab)(er). It's pretty simple, when you run, you spend a lot of energy moving your body forward, which burns more calories, which in turn will help you lose weight fast.
Of course, it will all go in vain if you will reward yourself after the running sessions with something unhealthy. A calorific reward system is the worst things you can do to yourself if you actually want to lose weight and be healthy. By saying "I ran for 30 minutes today, I deserve this pizza", you will effectively take in more calories than before and will actually gain weight as opposed to losing it.
For the best results, here is the formula you need to follow:
Losing weight fast = running regularly + consuming calories around maintenance level + using a non-calorific reward system
With this method, you will start losing weight very soon and will also improve your overall health in the same time. Don't try to swap having 2 pizzas for lunch and zero exercise for going running every day and eating leaf salad only. Be sensible and gradually change your lifestyle so it sticks.
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3. Running will make your bones stronger
There is a lesser known law called Wolfe's Law, which states that if you put your bones under stress, they will regenerate to be stronger in response to this stress. Running does in fact put pressure on your bones and therefore, by running regularly, your bones will get stronger, too.
This will only be true, however, if you improve your diet as well as go for regular runs. Poor diet and exercising can actually make your bones weaker and can also result in the loss of muscle mass. At the end of the day, you are what you eat and if you want a healthy body, you will have to feed it healthy foodstuff.
Avoid processed food – especially fast food – and introduce more fibrous items into your diet, especially vegetables. To clarify, you don't need to swap your whole diet to vegetables. What you can do, though, is to start logging your calories to see how much you eat, and then swap some of the bad calories to good ones.
In summary: running will improve your bone health, but only if you eat right and supply your body with the right nutrients.
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4. Running will improve your cardio health
This, again, is one of the more well-known benefits of running. Running regularly will improve your heart-health as well as your circulation. What does this mean?
From the National Center for Biotechnology Information (opens in new tab): "[Running] is a highly aerobic activity that utilises both fatty acids and carbohydrates for energy. The typical runner tends to have a slow resting pulse rate and a high maximal oxygen consumption. Echocardiographic studies show that distance runners' ... hearts are more efficient than those of sedentary people, pumping a larger volume per beat."
Running will change your body (in a good way) and especially your heart, and will make you more efficient with your energy expenditure overall. Your heart will become more resilient and you will be less prone to illnesses.
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5. Running can improve sleep quality and mental health
Increased physical activity can improve your sleep quality significantly. It does this by tiring your body out more and also by reducing stress levels. This will make you sleep better and spend more time in deep sleep which will also make you less stressed overall.
As you can see, once you started the process, exercising regularly can have a snowball-effect on your health, let it be physical or mental. All it needs is a bit of a push and you to get moving. Once that's done, you will find more energy not just for running, but for other activities in your life too, which again will further improve your health, even in short term.
The best running gear
As mentioned above, you won't need an awful lot of gear to start running. That's not to say you wouldn't benefit from having the proper gear at your service on your jogs or runs.
If you are just starting out, you most likely won't need the best gear, so as much as the Garmin Forerunner 945 is a top running watch and the Hoka One One Carbon X (opens in new tab) is a great running shoe, you can opt in for less advanced gear and still reap the benefits of support.
Best running shoes for beginners – New Balance FuelCall Rebel
Weighing just over 200 grams, the FuelCell Rebel is a lightweight shoe. It uses the Trace Fiber upper construction that uses precision stitching in key areas but keeps the upper thin and airy.
The main concern of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel is the forward propulsion; its main aim is to move you forward. The FuelCell midsole is a two-part rebound system that doesn't rock your feet but bounces you back up. It's not as firm and well rounded as the Asics Metaride (opens in new tab) or the Hoka One One Carbon X (opens in new tab), more springy and bouncy. Of course, if you are looking specifically for the Best women's running shoes, we will point you in the same direction. These are not macho shoes for blokes only.
Best running watch for beginners – Garmin Forerunner 245
Garmin's mid-range GPS running smartwatch, the Garmin Forerunner 245, uses the latest HR sensor technology the market leading company has to offer, as well as having integrated memory to store music, making it perfect for those smartphone-free running sessions. Battery life is also excellent, up to seven days in smartwatch mode, take that, Apple Watch!
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Best running headphones for beginners – Aftershokz Aeropex
It doesn't get much safer for runners and cyclists than wearing bone conducting headphones, such as the Aftershokz Aeropex, for outdoor activities. If you haven't tried bone conducting headphones before, these devices go around the ear and resonate the cheekbones to create sound, leaving your ears uncovered and not compromising spatial awareness.
The Aftersholz Aeropex is 30% smaller and 13% lighter than its predecessor, weighing only 26 grams in total. It has a battery life of up to eight hours and a charging time (from 0 to 100 percent) of two hours. These Bluetooth headphones have a range of 10 metres (or 33 feet) and an IP67 water rating, meaning the Aftershokz Aeropex is completely sweat and waterproof. It even has a moisture detection alert to let you know if the headphones are too wet to charge.