By Casey Clark Kelley

While better health may be one of your motivators for running, it could be benefitting you in more ways than you realize. If you occasionally lack motivation to lace up those sneakers for yet another long run, remind yourself of all the benefits with every mile.

Heart health. As a result of regular exercise, your muscles become stronger, including your heart, strengthening as it pumps blood in accordance to the needs of your body. The harder you work, the harder your heart works, the stronger it gets. When you run regularly, your heart becomes more efficient, lowering your resting heart rate, which means less stress on your heart when exercising and also when you’re not. A healthy heart reduces your risk of developing chronic conditions like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

Cancer prevention. There are so many factors that encourage cancer growth; it is essential to prevent this. Studies suggest regular exercise reduces your risk of developing certain cancers. According to the American Journal of Medicine, regular jogging can reduce cancer risk by 10% to 70% depending on the type of cancer.  Don’t negate the benefits by carrying your cell phone in hand when running. The World Health Organization classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) as a possible carcinogen, including those emitted from cell phones. Designer compression apparel brand, SportPort, developed a patented technology forming a protective barrier between your body and EMF emissions from your phone. This technology is featured in several of their products including sports bras, bra-tanks, and a running armband.

Bone and joint health. We’ve all had a worry about damaging our knees, but those concerns haven’t curtailed our mileage. Exercise is key for joint mobility and lubrication, while weight-bearing activity improves bone density. The key to run healthy is to run smart. Increase mileage gradually ensuring your bones are ready and take regular recovery days. Bad form often bears responsibility for injury, so include posture checks during your runs. Correct posture means your muscles and gravity propel you forward with minimal bone/joint impact.

Brain health. Ever feel increased mental clarity after an energizing run? Science suggests this is not an anomaly. While brain function can decrease with age, running can stimulate the creation of new blood vessels and nerve cells within the brain. A regular exercise routine benefits your brain’s cognitive function, including memory storage and recall. Perhaps one the best everyday benefits is the running-induced mood boost. Daily life can be challenging with mental heaviness whether it comes in the form of depression, anxiety, or stress. Running releases mood-boosting chemicals to cut through the fog that would otherwise shroud your day.

Digestive health. With inactivity, digestion slows; a sedentary lifestyle has less efficient blood flow. With exercise, your blood flow and digestion improves. Your body clock will sync itself with your running schedule, leading to digestive regularity. A recent study found evidence suggesting athletes have more diverse healthy bacteria in their gut. We have come to learn the role probiotics and prebiotics play in our digestive and immune systems, a crucial benefit for overall wellbeing.

Running is beneficial in many ways and though we have personal reasons for covering those miles , it’s helpful to remember all the good you’re doing for your health to renew your commitment to your sport, and giving you a tool to incorporate into an active lifestyle.

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Casey Clark Kelley is a writer, certified lifestyle coach and fitness instructor. She enjoys staying active with long distance running, cycling and cross-country skiing as New England weather allows.