by Nicole Wilkes
Photography courtesy of @malone545 on Creative Commons on Flickr
As home of the famous Boston Marathon, Beantown is one of the great running hubs of the United States. Whether you view it as a lifestyle, workout or hobby, distance running is straightforward, borderline addictive and adored by many.
Physical Health Benefits
Running is great for your heart, which is a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened. It’s so great, in fact, that regular runners are half as likely to die from cardiac disease. For the same reason, running is killer aerobic exercise and prime for burning calories and shedding fat.
With that, running works all the leg muscles, which are among the largest muscles in the body. It even engages the core, which keeps you stable and upright as you propel forward and pump your arms.
Mental Health Benefits
Runner’s high is not a myth. Granted, it can take a few miles to get there, but the rush of endorphins is real and can make you feel on top of the world.
Regular aerobic exercise is known to ease symptoms of clinical depression and reduce anxiety. It also regulates your circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock) to help you feel more alert during the day and able to fall asleep more quickly and reach a deeper sleep at night.
What You’ll Need
Decent shoes are a must. They should be specifically designed for running and, unfortunately, probably far more functional than they are attractive. Worn-out or unsupportive shoes put you at risk for joint pain and other injuries.
Injury Risk and Prevention
It’s critical to stretch after a run, even if you can only dedicate a few minutes. Also, increase your mileage and speed gradually so you don’t shock your body and put unnecessary strain on your tendons and ligaments.
Finally, listen to your body. Soreness is a sign of progress, pain is not. Be sure to note the difference between an innocent burning in the legs and pain that requires attention. Take action right away by icing any problem areas and taking an anti-inflammatory and, when in doubt, always see a medical professional.