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Cardio: Run Like You’re on a Mission

cardio-running-benefits

Yes, you may think it is about losing weight, some may say you can also lose muscle, which is not great if you’re trying to get bigger. The type of running will play a part in the benefits you’ll get out of it, however.

 

How does running benefit your fitness?

To simplify things, long, steady runs will help to improve your endurance, whilst intervals and sprints will make improvements to your cardiovascular fitness and VO2Max (the maximum volume of oxygen your body can utilise), leading to your body being able to use fat as an energy source more efficiently.

 

Running is the most cost effective way to improve your fitness

Running is one of the cheapest ways to improve your fitness. All you need is two feet and a heartbeat! (and a pair of shoes, obvy). For those folks just starting out on their fitness journey, running is a super accessible way to take the first step (pun intended). You can just step out of your front door and go. Head to your local park, run along a beach, along a river…there are plenty of possibilities. Pop in your headphones and crank your favourite tunes and soon enough you’ll be in the zone.

 

Run and enjoy your surroundings

Over the course of the past few years I’ve been pretty lucky with the localities I’ve had as my “local” run. From taking in icons like the London Eye and Houses of Parliament along the Thames to Sydney sights like the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House as I’ve trotted along the Harbour foreshore and through the Royal Botanic Gardens. If you’re a city dweller, running in a park is a great way to take some time in one of your city’s green lungs and fill your lungs with fresh(er) air.

Running and mental health

But it’s not only just about physical changes to your body; running is also good for your mental health. It’s a great way to clear your mind, release some of that pent-up stress from the week and get some feel-good endorphins pumping!

 

So if you’re not already doing it, pop on those trainers and give it a go! Don’t expect to run a marathon first go. Take it slow to begin with; run a bit, walk a bit, then run a bit more and build up the distance gradually. Listen to your body and stop if you feel pain or dizziness and, especially if it’s hot outside, make sure to stay hydrated. Apart from that, enjoy the great outdoors!

Bonus tip: If you can, try to run on soft(er) surfaces like grass or sand. It may seem more difficult but that’s because it IS more difficult! But why would you want to make it more difficult? The answer is twofold. Firstly, to reduce the impact on your joints (and decrease the risk of injuries like shin splints), and second, (especially in the case of dry sand) because the ground gives with every step, you’re effectively increasing resistance and intensifying your workout (especially on your calves), which will, in turn, lead to improvements in your endurance. Oh, and if you are running on sand, go barefoot! Research suggests that connecting to the Earth, or “grounding”, can have antioxidant, health-beneficial effects on your body. Bonus!

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