If you’ve been working out consistently, you’ve already discovered it: No matter how good or bad you feel at any given instant, exercise will allow you to feel better. And it goes beyond simply the runner’s high — that race of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids.
In a 2006 study, researchers found that even one bout of exercise — 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill — could instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. In a May 2013 study, rats and mice got antidepressant-like effects from running on a wheel, researchers concluded that physical activity was a highly effective alternative to treating depression.
And even on those days when you must force yourself out the door, exercise still protects you against anxiety and depression, studies have shown. Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and tension even after they’re done working out.
Ever heard someone call running their “drug”? Well, apparently, it actually is pretty similar. A 2007 study in Physiological Behavior showed that running causes the exact same kind of neurochemical adaptations in brain reward pathways that also are shared by addictive drugs.
Running helps you get skinnier
You know that exercises burns calories while you’re working out. The bonus is that when you exercise, the burn continues after you quit. Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts “afterburn”– that is, the number of calories you burn after exercise. (Scientists call this EPOC, which stands for excess post oxygen consumption.) That’s kind of like getting a paycheck even after your retirement.
And you don’t have to be sprinting at the speed of sound to get this benefit. This happens when you’re exercising at an intensity that’s about 70 percent of VO2 max. (That’s a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than marathon pace.)
Running strengthens your knees
It’s long been known that running increases bone mass, and even helps result from age- related bone loss. But chances are, you’ve had family, friends, and strangers warn you that “running is bad for the knees. ” Well, science has shown that it’s not. The truth is, studies show that running improves knee health. We know from many long-term studies that running doesn’t appear to cause much damage to the knees. When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don’t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don’t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected.
Running will keep you sharper, even as you age
Worried about “losing it” as you get older? Working out regularly will help you stay “with it. ” Studies have concluded that the evidence is insurmountable that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory.
Studies consistently found that fitter older adults scored better than their peers that were unfit in mental tests. What’s more, in stroke patients, regular exercise improves thinking, language, memory, and judgment problems by almost 50%. The research team found ” significant improvements ” in overall brain function at the conclusion of the program, with the most improvement in attention, concentration, planning, and organizing.
Running reduces your risk of cancer
Maybe running doesn’t cure cancer, but there’s plenty of proof that it helps prevent it. A vast review of nearly 200 epidemiological studies in the Journal of Nutrition showed that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. In the event you already have cancer what’s more, running can improve your quality of life while you’re undergoing chemotherapy. ( Want to know more about this? Read first-hand accounts of this and see our full cancer issue here. )
Running adds years to your life
Even in the event you meet just the minimum of amount of physical activity –(30 minutes, 5 times per week), you’ll live longer. Studies show that when different types of people started exercising, they lived longer. Smokers added 4.1 years to their lives; nonsmokers developed 3 years. Even if you’re still smoking, you’ll get 2.6 more years. Cancer survivors extended their lives by 5.3 years. Those with heart disease developed 4.3 years.