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The Top 8 Stunning Benefits of Running for a “Natural High”.

benefits of running

Introduction

For a very long time, everybody is well known for the health benefits of running. The medical fraternity has conducted several studies to put forth enough evidence that running is super beneficial for a healthy human body and mind.   

When you put your body in motion and start running, your body releases hormones called endorphins. These chemicals provide a short-lived ‘runner’s high,’ and euphoric mood following strenuous activity.

But it is a rare phenomenon, especially with long-distance runners who get too exhausted to feel the euphoric effects of running, in fact, endorphins cannot pass the blood-brain barrier, thereby having no significant hormonal effect on the brain.

Runner’s High

So, what is it that substance that is responsible for the ‘runner’s high’ or that euphoric soothe?

The answer may lie with the biochemical substances called endocannabinoids. These are similar to cannabis but naturally produced by the body.

Exercise increases the levels of endocannabinoids in the bloodstream and unlike endorphins, endocannabinoids can move easily to the brain, where these mood-improving neuromodulators promote short-term psychoactive effects such as being in an elevated mood, reduced anxiety, and mental clarity.

Significant Medical Findings

The running session also puts your cardiovascular system to work which sparks the growth of new blood vessels to nourish the brain. It also produces new brain cells in certain locations through a process called neurogenesis, which may lead to an overall improvement in brain performance and exhibit cognitive decline.

Exercise and running, alike, have a dramatic effect on the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. It has been found to increase volume in the brains of regular exercisers and athletes.

A study by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that even five to ten minutes a day of low-intensity running is enough to extend life by several years, compared with not running at all. In fact, some medical experts suggest the “sweet spot” for maximum longevity is up to 2.5 hours of running a week.

Calcium Repository

In the initial 30 years of life, the body stores excess calcium in bones. After 30, you stop gaining bone mass and rely on a repository of accumulated calcium in bones to meet the mineral requirement of your body for the rest of your life. If you don’t have enough calcium that your body needs, it starts hunting down your bones for this crucial mineral. This process increases your risk for osteoporosis (Abnormal loss of bony tissue resulting in fragile porous bones attributable to a lack of calcium).

Many long-term runners run because it makes them feel better on a daily basis, not because they want to live longer. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and quality of life, according to Dr. Baggish.

Additional ‘Medically Proven’ Benefits

  1. Running activates the brain area responsible for executive functions like attention control, working memory, or cognitive flexibility.
  2. In a medical study, groups were divided in two, and in conclusion, the group that was physically fit managed to deal with negative emotions and maintain a positive outlook more effectively than the other group.
  3. Running has that X-factor that refrains (or at least, reduces the urge) addicted individuals to go back to their addictions. In fact, if they have an additional purpose to lose weight, then they might start eating healthy as well.
  4. Running benefits you by managing daily stress and challenges by reducing the activity in the frontal cortex. This makes an ideal pounding day a little less stressful especially for a working class.
  5. After an intense running session, your body continues burning calories even after you are done with your workout. You can burn as much as 190 calories in your recovery hours.
  6. Research has shown that the benefits of running and exercising outdoors in a natural environment are far more than doing the same activities in indoor settings like in a gym or working out at home. It just may not give you the same level of psychological benefit.
  7. Interestingly, running can also improve your sperm count and your reproductive potential. In fact, women indulging in 20 minutes of running regularly over a period of time are shown to have more intense physiological sexual arousal.
  8. An estimated 80% of the population will have back pain at some point in their lives. Previously, it was believed that exercise had little effect on intervertebral discs. Running is often avoided because it is too slow to respond, but a new study found that it can help strengthen the discs earlier than it was thought. A regular running habit benefits by keeping your legs, knees, back, stomach, spine, and core muscles stronger through improved blood circulation. It also makes it easy to maintain a healthy, upright posture even at an elderly age.

Testimony

Mentions a 70+, the article above mentioned about ‘sweet spot’ of about 30 minutes daily but I prefer to do the jog twice to average up my metabolic rate. Up to date, I have no knee problems, no skin cancer, and no broken bones I have been slow jogging daily for the last 20 to 25 years  I have been slow jogging (in the park in the bright sunshine – minus glasses & minus sunblock in the tropical sun) at about 8 kmph for about 20 minutes each session twice a day. The important thing is to land on the front part of the feet so that the arch can act as a shock absorber.

Is trail running better than road/treadmill running?

  • Because of its flat surface, road running doesn’t have the same effect on the lower body as trail, however, it still promotes endurance and strength in all the major muscles. Your trail runners have a much more muscular appearance than road runners who usually sport a much leaner physique. They are prone to ankle and foot injuries as well citing the uneven surface of trail running.

Citation

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-truth-behind-runners-high-and-other-mental-benefits-of-running

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/running-health-even-little-bit-good-little-probably-better-201407307310

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/jan/18/running-brain-memory-cell-growth

https://runrepeat.com/what-running-does-to-your-body

Featured photo: Vintage photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com

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Navjot Singh
I'm an independent healthcare analyst with a passion for exploring and researching overall well-being. From cutting-edge medications to time-tested traditions, I delve into various perspectives. My extensive analysis covers health, alternative treatments, nutrition, fitness, herbs, and parenting. Every write-up on Bloomposts is churned thoroughly from authentic & published mediums. My aim is to provide valuable information for those who seek it. Now, let's dive into the articles - I hope you find them enjoyable and valuable.
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