The Benefits of Running
Why do they run? Running. It’s painful, tedious, and exhausting. So, why do so many Americans do it? People run for many reasons. Most often, people run to stay in shape and to reach an ideal body weight. Studies show that a combination of diet and exercise is the most effective way to lose weight, as it triggers a loss of body fat and a proportional increase of lean tissue. Running, a rigorous cardiovascular exercise, allows a person to burn an average of 100 calories per each mile he or she runs. Other popular activities, such as biking and walking, only burn a fraction of those calories in the same amount of time. While the average human being burns about 2000-2500 calories a day by simply existing, running 5 miles a day can burn an additional 500 calories, making it a legitimate way to lose weight. Furthermore, running is an easily accessible activity-- with a decent pair of sneakers and some determination, anyone can run.
Surprisingly, how fast a person runs has little effect on the number of calories he or she will burn. The most important factor is weight. For example, a 220-pound person running an eight-minute mile burns 150 calories, while a 120-pound person running at the same pace burns only 82. Every person’s body requires an excess of 3500 calories in order to gain a pound or a deficit of 3500 calories in order to lose a pound. Thus, 180-pound person who runs 5 miles each day will lose about 5 pounds a month. However, as his or her weight goes down, he or she will burn fewer calories per mile. Eventually, a runner’s weight will stabilize. When this will happen depends on how much the runner eats and how far he or she runs. Most runners lose weight effortlessly at first, but eventually, their weight stops declining and reaches a plateau. In order to continue to lose weight, some serious runners will intensify their workouts, as extra weight will only slow them down. Otherwise, recreational runners can maintain their lower body weight by continuing to run consistently.
Health benefits are another motivation for runners. For example, running helps lower blood pressure by maintaining the elasticity of the arteries. As a person runs, his or her arteries expand and contract more than usual, keeping the arteries elastic and the blood pressure low. In fact, most serious runners have unusually low blood pressure. Running also helps maximize the lungs’ potential, as it keeps them strong and powerful. While deep breaths force the lungs to use more tissue, the 50% of normally unused lung potential is utilized. Even smokers can sometimes recover full lung potential through running. Finally, running strengthens the heart and helps prevent heart attacks. The large muscle exercise it provides helps keep the cardio system efficient and strong. In fact, the heart of an inactive person beats 36,000 more times each day than that of a runner, as running keep the arteries open and the blood flowing smoothly.