7 Reasons You'll Want to Add Running to Your Workout Routine


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You've probably heard that running is good for you, but do you really know why? I'm not telling you to go run a marathon right now, but you can always start somewhere. Sometimes it's easier to get motivated when we understand why we are doing something. Yes, it's definitely good for our health, but what specifically is running going to improve? That's the real question. We've tapped some of the best fitness experts and certified running coaches to get the scoop on why this form of exercise can be so beneficial. From improved cardiovascular health to a boost in mood, there are numerous benefits of running.

Editor's note: If you want to try adding running to your routine, it might be helpful to consult your doctor first.

1. Boosts Your Mood


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Many people say that running is a stress reliever and makes them feel good. Well, there's a reason for that. "In the short term, the relaxed feeling you get after a run is caused by the production of endocannabinoids—they're substances similar to cannabis but are produced in the body," says Avery Fiordaliso, certified running coach and founder of IronLife Coaching. "Producing endocannabinoids can reduce anxiety and leave you feeling calmer."

2. Improves Overall Health


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Running is a form of exercise that keeps not only your mind healthy but also your body. "Running will fine-tune just about every part of your body internally and externally. It helps keep your heart healthy, regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and manage weight," says Melissa Kendter, trainer at Tone & Sculpt. "Also, running is a plyometric exercise, which stimulates bone growth and promotes healthy bone density."

3. Promotes Better Sleep Quality


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Let's be honest, anything that can help you catch those extra z's is going to be worth your while—trust me. Running itself can make you sleepier, and that's a good thing because that sleeping time is when your body is repairing itself.

"Recent studies have shown that running can help improve sleep quality as well as help you fall asleep faster," says Steve Stonehouse, NASM, CPT, USATF-certified run coach and director of education for Stride. "I've experienced this benefit firsthand! The better my workouts (and runs) are going, the easier it is for me to fall asleep. Not only is my quality of sleep better, but my overall volume of sleep increased too."

4. Can Aid in Weight Loss


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For those with weight-loss goals, running is an activity that can contribute to a caloric deficit. No, running one time isn't going to make you lose weight overnight, but a consistent routine might.

"Running can help you lose weight as a high-energy form of cardiovascular exercise," Stonehouse says. "The average person can burn about 100 calories per mile as they run, and we know that 3500 calories equal one pound. If you can use running to burn an additional 500 calories a day, seven days a week, that's 3500 calories. That's an additional one pound per week you could lose just by adding running to your routine."

5. Can Improve Heart Health and Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease


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As mentioned above, running can benefit overall health but specifically your heart. "Running can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 40% to 45%. It helps improve blood pressure, blood sugar sensitivity, and HDL cholesterol. All of these factors play a role in cardiovascular health overall," Stonehouse says.

6. Builds Confidence


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While you might not see an improvement in your mile time during your first week running, it will come with time and practice like anything else. "Running can be hard, but it is measurable. It allows you to see what your body and mind are capable of. The consistent effort of running produces results, no effort produces no results, so the effort is worth it," Kendter says.

In order to see results, you have to have a plan. "First, define your goal. Maybe it's simply to get moving. Maybe you want to run your first 5K, half, or full marathon, whatever it is. Once you establish the goal, break down the steps defining what accomplishment looks like," says Jennifer Reichek, IFBB Professional bodybuilder and professional endurance runner. "We can't hit a target if we don't know what it is! Decide how many days a week you are going to run and the amount of time you are going to dedicate to it. After this, take a look at your daily schedule to determine when you can fit this in. Once the game plan is established, the only thing left to do is execute it, and our body (and mind) will know it because we have already laid out the steps."

7. Can Improve Mental Health and Cognitive Function


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While talking to a therapist and playing memory games might improve your mental health, there’s actually a strong correlation between physical and mental health. "Running can elevate mood, improve focus and memory, increase confidence, reduce stress, and help alleviate symptoms of depression," says Amy Morris, trainer and RRCA-certified running coach.

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.