The Pros and Cons of Running


young couple running side by side at the park

Most people know that running is good for you. It’s one of the most popular types of exercise, and it’s enjoyed (and hated) by millions of people worldwide. There are some well-known risks to running that make it an activity some people are best off avoiding.

While running is great for you for various reasons, there are pros and cons. The pros and cons of running are one of the most common discussion subjects among runners and non-runners alike. While the advantages of running are hard to dispute, knowing a little more about the pros and cons of running can help you decide whether this is the right exercise option.

The Pros of Running

Here’s our list of all of the fantastic things about running. While it might not be for everyone, there are some great benefits to taking up running, especially as part of an all-around fitness regime.

Easy Accessibility

You don’t need a gym membership to take up running, and your trainers don’t have to be the latest Nikes either. You can put on your running shoes, open the front door and start running. You can jog almost anywhere and at any time, and it doesn’t cost you a penny.

High-Calorie Burn

Calorie management is an integral part of improving your health and fitness, and burning more calories than you consume is a common strategy for weight loss. Running and jogging are great for burning calories and have a high-calorie burn per hour. Research indicates that running at 5mph for just 12 minutes can burn between 240 calories (for a 125lb person) and 336 calories (for someone weighing 185lbs).

So even 20-minutes of running can be great for keeping your calories down, making it a great way to get fit and healthy.

Functional Exercise and Fitness

One of the reasons running is such a great choice to consider adding to your workouts is how it carries into your day-to-day life. There’s a lot of crossover between running and your everyday activities. Consider how much easier it is to walk up a large flight of stairs or chase after your children when your heart, lungs and muscles are used to intense physical activity.

The Competitive Factor

As one of the most popular types of exercise, it’s fairly easy to find like-minded runners. From running clubs to fun runs, running with others boosts your motivation. It helps you push harder too. Running with other people can add a competitive flavour to your workout, and that’s good for inspiration and smashing your targets. Turning a run into a social experience can improve results through motivation, with runners getting more significant benefits from running with someone who is a better runner than them.

Measuring and Tracking

It’s never been easier to see the data about your latest run. From fitness apps on smartphones to smartwatches, everything from distance, speed, number of steps and even the elevation of your running surface can all be measured and tracked. Tracking your health-related goals is great for motivation, and there are more ways of doing so than ever. 

Running and Mental Health

When it comes to improving your mental health, running is hard to beat. It can help to reduce stress, as your body releases endocannabinoids post-run. Endocannabinoids deliver a short-term sense of calm and reduced stress, leading to that famous “runner’s high”. It can also help fight off depression and anxiety (as can most forms of exercise), as blood circulation speeds up and your brain benefits from stress relief.

Improve Sleep

If you struggle to drift off at the end of the day, going for a regular run could be the answer to insomnia you’ve been looking for. Exercise has long been known to make it easier to not just get to sleep but to enjoy a more restful and recuperative sleep. Research by sleep.org suggests that just 30-minutes of aerobic exercise such as running will result in better sleeping patterns.

Running and Cardiovascular Health

Most of us know that running is great for lowering BMI, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. What that means is that running is great for your heart. There have been a lot (and we mean a LOT) of research studies conducted on the effects of running and heart health. One of the biggest was carried out by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study found that runners generally had a 30% lower risk of death than non-runners. And when they looked at heart-related causes of death, runners were an incredible 45% less likely to die of those causes. Interestingly, the results suggest that running speed or duration doesn’t reflect a change in those stats. So even if you’re simply trying to improve your 5k running time, the fact is that people who run slowly and infrequently will still have a lower chance of dying from a cardiovascular issue than non-runners.

young woman track and field athlete running

The Cons of Running

When looked at closely, the pros of running make it seem like the perfect fitness activity. However, there are cons to running you need to be aware of too. When it comes to the drawbacks, remember that some running issues can be reduced as long as you’re aware of the risks beforehand. 

It’s Hard Work

Running hurts. The muscles start to burn quickly, and the lungs are working overtime. So it can be hard to motivate yourself to go for a run. Beginners are more likely to skip a running session, but even enthusiastic runners often struggle to get the trainers on and head outside. 

Overestimated Benefits

While running is hard work, runners often overestimate how much good it’s doing them. Most runners feel that they’ve done a major workout after a 20-minute run, but it’s likely you haven’t used as much energy as you assume. Being out of breath doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve had a vigorous workout! A crucial point here is that a 20-minute run usually equals around the same level of exercise as a 40-minute walk.

Running Injuries

One of the most well-known and often discussed cons of running is that it can lead to injury. Some of the most common injuries caused by running include:

  • Runner’s knee
  • Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Stress fractures
  • Achilles tendonitis.

For some people, the risk of injury is more likely. If you have a bad back, weak knees or any issues with your feet, then running is best avoided. Running can do some weird things to your body, but knowing more about how running affects you is always a good idea.

The Weather

It might be free to head outside and start running, but you’ll have to cope with whatever the weather throws at you. Running in the excessive heat of a summer’s day can quickly lead to over-exhaustion and dehydration. Running in the rain or snow is enjoyable for more people than you might think, but for the majority it’s uncomfortable and annoying. Of course, there are treadmills in most gyms, and they’re a useful way to avoid one of the most consistent complaints about running.

Runner jogging in snow.

Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Running

Running is very good for you despite the potential problems. It’s intense and burns more calories than many other forms of exercise. It’s brilliant for weight loss and may even lead to what runners call the runner’s high. 

But it’s a lot of work for your joints. You can reduce the risk of injury by avoiding running on concrete and making sure that you’re wearing a good pair of trainers or specialist running shoes. For women, breast support will be vital, so a well-fitting sports bra is an essential investment. 

As with all types of exercise, the most important thing you can do is listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel any pain (even a twinge), then slow down and cut down on the time you dedicate to running. If you ignore the warning signs, there may be long-term consequences.

For personal trainers, it’s essential to know what happens to the body during and after a good running session. When you sign up for a Personal Trainer course with The Fitness Group, you’ll learn how to teach your clients to run safely, avoiding many cons listed here. And the more you know, the better a personal trainer you’ll be.

 

Get in touch today to find out more about the best course options for you and the financial assistance possible.

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