The Benefits of Running - At Least Eight Reasons Why You Should Run!

benefits of running
What are the benefits of running?

Running is one of the best sports you can do. Running offers numerous benefits for physical and mental well-being.

Some of the benefits are probably clear to you.

But there are more reasons to run than you had probably thought of.

If you aren't a runner yet, I hope you'll consider being one after having read this article. I'll cover the most important benefits here.

Weight Loss Benefits of Running

One of the most obvious reasons to get into running is weight loss. This was a factor for me as well, I have to admit.

In my teenage years I was a fanatical soccer player hoping to make it to the pros. Although I got selected for some regional teams and a couple of pro-coaches came to visit my games a few times, I did not make it.

benefits of running
I stopped playing soccer when I went to uni.

Enjoying uni life a little too much I gained over 18 pounds in one year.

That's when I recognized one of the major benefits: weight loss.

At first I could not run that far.

But knowing how fit I had been before, I did not give up and gradually got better. The pounds vanished. Running is widely recognized as one of the best methods to work off the pounds.

Get into it!

Want to learn more about weight loss and running? Then check out the Running and Weight Loss page.

Aesthetic Benefits of Running

Benefits of Running
Another great benefit is that it is a superb way to get into shape and look better.

Running improves your muscular strength and endurance. Once you start running the fat in your body will make place for muscle. Well, as you run, your muscles get stronger and bigger. And your fat will disappear. I mean, don't start thinking fat will magically turn into muscle..!

Now, be aware, muscles are heavier than fat. So it might even be that you don't experience weight loss immediately or in as big steps as you hoped for. But your toning will improve. Running engages multiple muscle groups, particularly in the lower body. Regular running can help tone and strenghten the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes.

Even if your weight stays the same, you might already be able to fit into a smaller size!


Long-term Benefits of Running

I got inspired into writing this page when I saw a copy of Runner's World. This issue featured an article on a veteran runner. When you had a look at him you would guess his age to be about 50-55.

Maybe 60
if you factored in that you were asked to guess this guy's age and apparently this meant it was quite amazing.

Well, turned out he is 73 years old and still runs about three times a week!

Whenever I have difficulty getting out of the door I simply have a look at this guy's photo again. That's what I want for me when I am older!

One of the long-term benefits of running is that you'll live longer and look younger than a sedate person. You are simply a lot healthier.

interval running

Your cardiovascular system (= heart & blood vessels) can do with a regular workout. With the staggering and rising numbers of obesity in the world, you need to make sure you are going to be at the healthy end of the spectrum.

Running is a highly effective aerobic exercise that strengthens the heart and improves overall cardiovascular fitness. It helps lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and enhance the efficiency of the circulatory system.

And who doesn't want that? And if you don't do it for yourself, do it for your (future?) children and grandchildren who will want you to be around for a lot longer!

Dietary Benefits of Running

benefits of running
One of the side-effects of running is that it will make you improve your diet.

Acting healthy makes you want to eat healthy as well!

Away go those running benefits if you stuff yourself with greasy fast food after your workout!

For most runners, I hope for you as well, the desire to have fast food simply is not there, or is easier to resist.

Now, that's a double bonus; burning more calories and consuming less!

Need some help with improving your diet? You could check out the Runner's Diet page!

Mental Benefits of Running

Regular exercise is associated with psychological and mental benefits as well. Running stimulates the release of endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones, which can lead to a sense of euphoria and improved mood. It also acts as a stress reliever, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. I know I feel it. After a day at work I am mentally exhausted. Yet, running re-invigorates me. And I also feel it when time goes by that I can't get to my regular running.

I don't sleep as well, get crabbier and more tired! Just notice for yourself how exercise makes you feel. It does feel good, doesn't it?

And did you know that cardiovascular exercise (jogging, swimming, bike riding) is also prescribed to treat some psychological disorders like clinical depression?

Get those running shoes out of that dusty cupboard today!

Improved Bone and Joint Health

Running is a weight-bearing exercise that strengthens bones and helps prevent age-related bone loss, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Contrary to the misconception that running damages joints, research suggests that regular running may even have a protective effect on joint health when done properly!

Lesser Known Benefits of Running

While the above benefits are all true and well-known, there are also some lesser-known but true benefits of running which I'll list here:

benefits of running
Cognitive enhancement
Research suggests that aerobic exercises like running can enhance cognitive function and improve memory, attention, and concentration. It may also help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and improve overall brain health!

Immune system boost
Moderate-intensity exercise, such as running, has been shown to strengthen the immune system by increasing the production and activity of immune cells. Regular runners tend to experience fewer minor illnesses and have a lower risk of developing chronic diseases.

Improved sleep quality
Regular running has been linked to better sleep patterns and improved sleep quality. It can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, increase total sleep time, and enhance sleep efficiency, leading to better overall rest and recovery. Increased self-confidence
Running can boost self-esteem and self-confidence as it provides a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Achieving personal running goals, such as completing a race or improving endurance, can greatly enhance one's confidence and belief in their abilities.

I know I have had this with being able to run an hour, being able to run 90 minutes, completing my first half marathon back in the day, my first marathon, my first ultra, etc.

benefits of running
All of those accomplishments provided me with a sense of accomplishment. Being able to do these things and knowing that more than 95% of the world's population can't do what you can do helps provide you with a sense of pride and fulfillment.

Social connections and community engagement
Running can be a social activity, whether through joining a running group, participating in organised races, or simply running with friends. It offers opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, build friendships, and become part of a supportive community.

Again, my own running has been so much enhanced since doing two things:

Join a running group - we do our weekly Sunday long run together on beautiful trails. Through spending hours besides somebody and talking through each other's lives you provide and get support. It's free therapy!

Run a weekly parkrun - parkrun is a weekly timed 5k, held on Saturday mornings all over the globe. It's a lovely low-key way of racing and running together which I thoroughly enjoy. Sometimes I really push myself, sometimes I hold back and run with somebody, sometimes I pace somebody to try and help them achieve their best time, sometimes I volunteer. It provides a fantastic community feeling every weekend. Highly recommended!

Benefits of Running Over Other Exercise

Regular exercise is good for you.

benefits of running
Running is a very flexible, low-cost way of getting your exercise in.

You don't have to go to a special place, a court or so.

Once you have your running shoes, socks, shorts, and t-shirt you are good to go, anywhere in the world, whether you are travelling a lot or not.

Whether you have unregular shifts or not. You can always go for a run.


The benefits of running are basically endless.

Short-term effects like weight loss, improvement of looks and dietary changes are reason enough to start running.

But the long-term benefits of running make it really worth it. Running provides you with a life of physical and mental health.

Not already a runner? Then get started and make sure that when you are in your mid-seventies you look like you are in your mid-fifties and maybe you'll live to be a hundred!
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