Healthy reasons to give running a go

Posted on March 26, 2021

Healthy reasons to give running a go

Think you’re not a runner? Think again. With a decent pair of shoes and a route in mind, anyone can run – and anyone can enjoy the many health benefits of running. Here’s why you should consider giving it a go.


Running boosts cardiovascular fitness

Regular running is a great way to keep your heart healthy. In a study of around 55,000 people, researchers at Iowa State University found running three times a week for an average of just 17 minutes reduced the risk of fatal heart attack or stroke by 55%.


Running strengthens joints

Better bone health is another benefit of running, which puts stress on our joints and bone tissue which can in turn improve bone density. A 21 year study by Stamford University showed that those adults who ran consistently were associated with reduced disability in later life and notable survival advantage.


Running burns calories

If you are looking for a workout to support weight loss, running is a great choice. On average, we burn around 100 calories per mile when running. When combined with healthy eating, running could really help you get in shape.


Running improves mental wellbeing

Like any exercise, running releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that are behind the “runner’s high”. Setting and achieving a running goal can also boost your confidence and make you feel good. Try a programme like Couch to 5k from the NHS, which is designed to help beginners complete a 5k run in just nine weeks.


A study by University College London found that exercising three times a week could lower the risk of depression by 16%. Many GPs in the UK now prescribe exercise as treatment for a range of conditions, including depression.


Running may help you live longer

When you lace up your shoes and head out on a run, you could be running towards a longer life expectancy. Studies have shown that runners have a 25%-40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately three years longer than non-runners.


Running is a great core workout

Instead of crunching your way to amazing abs, why not try running? During a run, you engage your abdominal muscles to maintain form and posture, helping to build a stronger core.


…And for that good leg day workout

Your biggest muscles are in your legs and running works them all – from your inner and outer thighs and gluteus maximus to your quads, hamstrings, and calves.


Nutrition is just as important when running

Your diet and nutrition is key to getting the constant energy required when running. Generally you should try and eat carbohydrates (best source for energy) one to two hours before a run or a snack 30 minutes before a run. Best choices would include: whole grains (bread, pasta, quinoa), oats, lean protein ( salmon, eggs, chicken), fresh fruit (berries, banana), yogurt, starchy vegetables, peanut butter and nuts. Try to avoid sugar filled foods and drinks, fried foods, spicy food, high-fiber foods and legumes before a run.  Whole grains also contain B vitamins, which help provide energy. 


Nutrition and hydration after running

Small amounts of sodium and electrolytes are lost through sweat during running. Make sure to keep hydrated with small amounts of water that contain electrolytes during a run. Coconut water naturally contains these electrolytes and is a great choice post running. Post running, light meals or snacks should be consumed which includes fluids, carbohydrates and protein (ratio would depend on your end goal). You could have whole grain toast with nut butter or greek yogurt with some berries. 


If running is not for you or you would like to involve family or children, you could try cycling, swimming or brisk walking. 

 Lee, D., Pate, R., Lavie, C et al. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 64 (5), 472-481
 Chakravarty, E., Lingala, V. and Fries, J. (2008). Reduced Disability and Mortality among Aging Runners: a 21-year Longitudinal Study. Arch Intern Med. 168 (15), 1638–1646.
 Runner’s World. (2018). 4 ways to run your way to weight loss. Available: Last accessed 24th March 2021.
 NHS. (2020). Couch to 5K: week by week. Available: Last accessed 25th March 2021.
 Runner’s World. (2018). 4 ways to run your way to weight loss. Available: Last accessed 24th March 2021.
Women’sRunning. (2020). 6 ways that running can improve your mental health. Available: Last accessed 25th March 2021.
 NHS. (2018). Exercise for depression. Available:,of%20activity%20will. Last accessed 25th March 2021.
 Lee, D., Brellenthin, A. and Thompson, P. et al. (2017). Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. Prog Cardiovasc Dis.. 60 (1), 45-55.