There is a saying, “Any exercise is good exercise.” That is more than good advice. It is a science-backed truth. While any exercise is good, some are better than others. Running is one of the most popular forms of physical activity. However, if not performed correctly running can pose some health risks. We will teach you how to run for good health.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Running?
Over the years, research has uncovered many health benefits to running and other forms of exercise. These health benefits include the following:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Decreases risk of stroke
- Manages blood sugar levels
- Lowers risk of acquiring Type 2 diabetes
- Lowers risk of acquiring dangerous illnesses such as cancer
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
- Improves mood
- Strengthens and builds muscle
- Strengthens bones
With all of these benefits in mind, how can exercise pose a threat to your health? Likewise, there is another saying that refers to the negative effects of running and other forms of exercise:
“Too much of a good thing can be bad for you.”
Responsible research requires that both sides of the subject matter must be explored. If running has health benefits, are there negative effects? And if so, what are they and how do they originate.
Studies on running have shown that runners had a 19% lower risk of death compared to non-runners. However, a specific study which monitored the health of 52,000 runners for 30 years revealed an interesting observation.
Apparently, the health benefits of running diminished as runners ran longer distances, harder, and followed a faster pace.
These hard-core runners shared the following running characteristics:
- They ran more than 20 miles every week.
- They ran more than 6 days a week.
- Their running pace was faster than 8 miles per hour.
Strenuous exercise including excessive running has also been linked to the production of dangerous free radicals in the body. These free radicals can bind with cholesterol which leads to the development of plaque in your arteries. Free radicals can also result in oxidative stress which can damage your cell structures.
These free radicals are created when your body burns calories to fuel your hard running sessions. The calories come from carbohydrates and fat. The process of burning calories introduces these free radicals into your body.
Of course, the usual concerns on running’s wear and tear on the body remain. Serious runners get serious injuries. These range from chronic pain on the joints and lower back to muscle tears and broken bones.
Despite the evidence on the negative effects of running, don’t throw your running shoes in the trash can. Running is still one of the best exercises you can do. It remains a proven and highly-effective way of accomplishing your health and fitness benefits.
In order to maximize its benefits, you should program your running sessions toward achieving good health instead of breaking personal records.
How To Run For Good Health
There have been many studies done to determine the right amount of running you can do to maintain good health. Some of the studies have come up with the following recommendations:
- Five to 19 miles per week at a pace of 6-7 miles per hour spread out to 3-4 sessions every week.
- 75 minutes per week at a pace of 5 miles per hour spread out to 3-4 sessions every week.
- 144 minutes per week at a pace of 5 miles per hour spread out to 3 sessions every week; this is shorter than one hour of running per session.
Regardless of the program you select, one thing is clear. When it comes to running, more effort is not better. In fact, running harder and faster over longer distances results in shorter mortality rates.
The research suggests that if you want to run for good health, it should be performed with low to moderate intensity in order to maximize its benefits. With running, too much effort can lead to diminishing returns in terms of health.
Here are a few more tips you should consider to make running a healthy and safe exercise:
- Visit Your Doctor
Many people ignore warning signs that they are not in good health. You have probably come across stories of people who appear in perfect health suddenly collapse while in the middle of exercise.
Before starting any new form of exercise, always schedule a visit with your doctor. If you’re an experienced runner, it wouldn’t hurt to see your doctor every 6 months.
A doctor may ask you to undergo a complete medical and physical check-up before giving you the green light for running. The tests will uncover any illnesses, conditions, or injuries that may pose a risk to your overall health.
- Hire a Running Coach or Personal Trainer
Even the best runners in the world have running coaches and personal trainers. They have the knowledge and expertise to design running and exercise programs that are best suited to your level of fitness.
A running coach can also spot flaws in your technique. Poor form and technique in running are leading causes of injuries and chronic pain. They are also great motivators.
Many running coaches and personal trainers were competitive athletes in the past. Some of the most valuable information you need to become the best runner you can be cannot be found on the Internet or in textbooks. They are the experiences and stories that are shared by an experienced coach or personal trainer.
- Invest in High- Quality Running Gear
Your feet take a pounding whenever you run. Every stride results in impact forces that carry over from your feet to your shins, knees, hips, and lower back. Your hips are particularly important.
The hip contains the psoas muscle which is the only muscle that connects the upper body to the lower body. Thus, if your hips are strained, your upper body will eventually feel the pressures and pounding from running. Your neck, shoulders, and upper back will eventually start to get nagging aches and pains.
Before you run, make sure you will be using the right pair of shoes. If the soles are already worn out, buy a new pair. You don’t have to buy the most expensive shoes in the market. Choose a pair that is designed for your foot type.
Those with high arches should buy shoes that have arch support. In contrast, those with flat feet should buy shoes that offer greater stability. You should also buy socks that can prevent blisters from developing.
- Stay Hydrated Before, During, and After a Run
Running is considered vigorous exercise activity. Even if you are running at a pace of only 5 miles per hour, you will be sweating a lot. If you don’t observe proper hydration protocols, you will be dehydrated.
Dehydration can lead to unwanted conditions. First and foremost, is cramping. Lack of water can make your muscles tighten up and contract violently. Second, dehydration can make you susceptible to heat stroke. Other negative effects of dehydration include fainting, having a rapid heartbeat, and headaches.
Make sure you are properly hydrated before you run. Buy a runner’s backpack or belt bag and attach a few bottles of water. It is a good idea to weigh yourself before and after a run. The difference in body weight represents the amount of water you have to drink for proper hydration after you run.
- Warm Up Properly Before Running
Before running, perform dynamic stretching movements in order to activate the muscles needed for the run. Dynamic stretches are quick, fast movements that involve the muscles used for the activity.
Here is a list of effective dynamic stretches that you can do before a run:
- Bodyweight squats; place a resistance band below the knees to improve hip mobility.
- Side-to-side squats
- In/Out hip rotations
- Leg raises to the front/back
- Leg raises to the side
- Bodyweight Lunges or split squats on a bench
- Bench step-ups
Perform 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each movement to make sure the muscles are warmed up and ready to meet the demands of the exercise.
- Warm Down Properly After Running
After you complete your run, take a few minutes to walk. The purpose of the walk is to allow time for your heart rate to normalize. Your body temperature will likewise come down. You will notice more sweat coming out of your body. This is the body’s natural way of cooling itself.
Once your heart rate has normalized, perform static stretching movements. These are the stretching movements where you hold the position for an extended period; usually 30 seconds to one minute.
Static stretching helps flush out toxins, removes lactic acid, loosens up tight muscles, and speeds up the recovery process.
Running is an exercise activity which is best done in moderation or as part of a holistic fitness program. For example, you can run 2-3 days a week. On the other days, you can lift weights or do other types of exercise activity such as swimming, cycling, or brisk walking.
Unless you are planning to run competitively, you should run within your capabilities or the parameters of your running program. You do not have to run hard to attain the healthy benefits of running.