Come on Durban, let’s get healthy!

Running is a special kind of torture. All my life, I believed it was only for fitness nuts and those being chased by mortal enemies. Until I learned these facts. Damn you science! It’s one of the things that makes us human. Walking alone cannot explain the changes in body form that distinguish humans from […]

Running is a special kind of torture. All my life, I believed it was only for fitness nuts and those being chased by mortal enemies. Until I learned these facts. Damn you science!

It’s one of the things that makes us human.

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Walking alone cannot explain the changes in body form that distinguish humans from Australopithecus. According to the fossil record, the long, springlike tendons that store energy and reduce the metabolic costs of running are absent in our hominid ancestors. The same thing is true for the longitudinal arch of the foot and the length of our legs relative to body mass.

Doing it, for just 5 minutes, adds years to your life.

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During a recent survey of 55,000 adults in the Dallas area, “people who jogged or ran for as little as five minutes a day reduced their risk of premature death by nearly one-third and extended their lives by about three years.” And they didn’t even have to run fast.

Minute for minute, running burns more calories than almost any other exercise.

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Running “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.”

It works out almost every muscle group at the same time.

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Your legs scream the loudest, but hips, arms, abs also get a workout when you run, especially if you run on different types of terrain. And that’s not all: 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments, and a network of nerves, tendons, and blood vessels have to work together in order for us to run! If you want to spend as little time working out as possible, running is where it’s at.

It drastically reduces the risk of heart disease.

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I know, sometimes it feels like your heart is going to explode, but running actually helps keep that ticker in good health. Several studies found that running for just an hour a week can reduce the risk of heart disease by almost half compared to non-runners.

It can get you high.

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And I’m not just talking about that good feeling you get when the run is finally over. Researchers have confirmed that running triggers the release of endorphins–Nature’s home-brewed opiates–in the brain.

“Years ago, our ancestors’ survival likely depended on chasing down food. The desire to live was possibly their motivation to run and run fast, and the feel-good brain chemicals released when they did so may have helped them achieve the speed and distances required, says David A. Raichlen, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona. The sucky part: you have push yourself past the comfort zone in order to get these sweet drugs.

It grows your brain and enhances memory.

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Free painkillers isn’t the only brain benefit of running. “Neuroscientists at Cambridge University have shown that running stimulates the brain to grow fresh grey matter and it has a big impact on mental ability.”

It actually gives you more energy.

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I know, the idea of running when you’re tired is…exhausting. But it really can help. “Feeling sluggish? Try going for a run instead. Just one running sesh can increase energy and chip away at fatigue.”

Doing it outside fights depression.

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For best results, run outside. A recent study last year found people in parks experienced the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine (your body’s antidepressants) and demonstrated brain activity similar to that seen during meditation. Meanwhile people who ran on streets experienced more frustration.

Contrary to popular belief, it strengthens your bones and joints.

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You still have to be careful, especially if you’ve had injuries in the past, but running is actually one of the best ways to increase bone density (which wards off osteoporosis in old age) and build strong joints

It teaches your body to burn calories, even when you’re resting.

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Running builds muscle mass, which means it increases your resting metabolism (aka basal metabolic rate). The higher your resting metabolism, the more calories you’ll burn–even when you’re not working out!

It reduces your risk of multiple cancers.

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Studies have shown that people who run are less likely to develop colon cancer. And women who regularly engage in intense workouts like running can reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 30 percent. If you already have cancer, running can help you feel better while undergoing chemotherapy.

It’ll make you sleep like a baby.

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People who run tend to adhere to set sleeping routines in order to keep running performance high. Even better: Running also encourages higher quality sleep, which translates into better mornings and mental performance during the day.

Remember…

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So, who wants to go for a run?

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