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What Is Running Healthy For?

Does jogging make you bright and healthy? Does it protect against COVID-19? And does it help with aging? What happens in the body when you run

Running is as old as humanity itself. Even our ancestors in the Stone Age hunted animals and picked berries to survive. Today the reasons for running are less pragmatic. Nevertheless, you should slip into your jogging shoes several times a week and cross the city park or nearby forest. Because exercise not only promotes your health but also prevents many diseases. 

Running Is That Healthy

“Running is healthy because it’s a full-body workout,” says Reed. It strengthens both our bodies and organs. At the same time, it has a positive effect on our psyche. What exactly does jogging do to our body? Here is an overview:

Running Strengthens Your Immune System

Those who run regularly strengthen their immune system. A lot of adrenaline is released when you run. This allows defense cells such as killer cells, white blood cells, and B and T lymphocytes to multiply faster. They protect the body from harmful cells and foreign substances, such as viruses that cause a cold. But runners should be careful immediately after jogging, according to the sports medicine specialist. Because for about an hour afterward, the immune system is weaker than before. So jump under the shower in cold weather and then relax. You should also know this about jogging in the cold.

Running Strengthens Bones, Joints, And Muscles

But the musculoskeletal system also benefits from running. “It strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and bones and thus lowers the risk of osteoporosis,” explains Reed. When running, joggers use their muscles, which continue to build. At the same time, through their tensile force, they, in turn, strengthen the bones, which form new bone substances. Finally, jogging promotes cartilage. Movement supplies them with nutrients from the synovial fluid.

Running Trains The Heart

The heart muscle of runners is strengthened because it has to work harder. Particularly active athletes can even develop a so-called sports heart. Compared to the heart muscle of an untrained person, it can be twice as large and up to 200 grams heavier. The heart rate drops, and the body is supplied with more blood. This has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.

Running Protects Against High Blood Pressure

The amount of red blood cells also increases during endurance sports. As a result, runners “achieve a better supply of oxygen to the muscles, but also other important organs in the body,” says Reed. In addition, the faster blood flow irritates the vascular lining. This releases the substance nitroxide. It widens the blood vessels so that more blood can flow through the body and oxygen can be transported. In this way, joggers also prevent high blood pressure in the long term.

Running Works Your Lungs

The lungs also benefit from better blood circulation. In addition, it forms more alveoli with regular exercise. The body can therefore be better supplied with oxygen, and runners are more productive.

Running Improves Bowel Function

The intestine is also supplied with more blood. The aggressive chyme flows faster through the intestinal tract and has less time to attack the intestinal wall cells. In short: digestion is faster, and the risk of colon cancer is reduced.

Running Trains The Brain

Running makes you bright – it’s true. For three reasons, explains Reer: “Firstly, because of the brain activity to be used with the resulting increased brain growth, secondly, new nerve pathways are formed, and thirdly, the blood circulation is better.” Joggers need to coordinate every movement. In doing so, they train the motor cortex in the brain. Studies in mice also show that walking increases the size of the hippocampus, the interface between short and long-term memory. The consequences: runners are more productive, more concentrated, and easier to remember.

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Running Improves Sperm Quality

For everyone who is currently involved in family planning: Running improves sperm quality. Researchers from the University of Giessen examined 280 men who jogged at different speeds for almost six months. Compared to non-runners, their semen was less likely to be infected or attacked. Moderate joggers, in particular, benefited from more, more agile, and better-structured sperm.

What Effects Does Running Have On The Psyche?

Jogging to clear your mind is a good idea. Because to coordinate the movement while running, the brain has fewer resources to ponder. But stress is also reduced, and the mood is improved. The sports medicine specialist explains that endorphins, known as happiness hormones, are responsible for this, which the body releases more intensely. At the same time, the amount of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol is reduced. If you run, you can train at the push of a button, call up performance and then recover.

What Diseases Does Running Prevent?

By strengthening the immune system and making you happy, running protects against many diseases. That is why movement is increasingly used in therapies today. Here is an overview:

Cardiovascular Disease

Every third German dies of cardiovascular disease, according to the German Federal Statistical Office. By exercising their heart muscle and providing their bodies with better oxygen, runners can prevent coronary heart disease and stroke.

Cancer

According to a study in The Lancet, ten percent of all breast and colon cancers are due to too little exercise. Regular runners have robust immune systems. This can eliminate degenerate cancer cells more quickly and protects against concomitant diseases. Another plus point of running: It strengthens your well-being, which additionally supports the fight against cancer.

Diabetes And Obesity

Everyone probably knows that regular running boosts fat burning and makes you slim. At the same time, it also helps against diabetes. “On the one hand, sugar is broken down when I exercise,” explains Reed, “on the other hand, it increases insulin sensitivity.” The insulin ensures that glucose transporters dock on the inner wall of the cells. These can then absorb and break down sugar from the blood. This lowers the blood sugar level. There are also glucose transporters that are only activated by exercise.

Dementia

In the long term, a trained brain also reduces the risk of dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Because better interconnection of the nerve cells in the brain enables us to reproduce facts better and think flexibly in everyday life. In addition, exercise improves our sleep. Those who sleep soundly can also store information more efficiently in their memory.

Burnout, Depression, And Anxiety Disorders

Jogging also helps against many modern mental illnesses. After all, it reduces stress and lifts your mood. The happiness hormone dopamine is also released when running. This motivates you in sport, gives you new momentum in everyday life, and strengthens your self-confidence. In addition, the amino acid tryptophan forms the precursor of the feel-good hormone serotonin. This lets you sleep peacefully and ensures that you are balanced and cheerful. According to a study in The American Journal of Psychiatry, 12 percent of all depression could have been prevented with at least one hour of exercise a week.

COVID-19

Running away from Corona works says sports medicine specialist Reer. Because runners usually have fewer previous illnesses, a strengthened immune system, and a good mood. This makes them less susceptible to viral infections such as the coronavirus.

Does Running Help Against Aging?

“Exercise is the only anti-aging agent,” says Reed. Above all, through endurance sports, which includes running, the organs remain functional longer. In addition, athletes suffer less from so-called low-grade inflammation. This underlying inflammation slowly but surely breaks down the body. Those who run regularly, on the other hand, prevent inflammation and are thus ageless. In a large-scale study, researchers from Copenhagen even showed that men who periodically jog at the right intensity live on average 6.2 years and women 5.6 years longer than non-runners. Another plus point, according to the sports medicine specialist: “You also die happier and in better condition.”

How Much Running Is Healthy?

However, to benefit from the health benefits of jogging, the right amount is essential. Because too much running is just as harmful as too little. The World Health Organization recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. According to the sports medicine specialist, reasonable means: “Run without panting.” So you should have no problem having a conversation with your running partner while jogging, but you should no longer be able to sing a song. This is how you start your running training. However, the following also applies: for some people, running is not suitable; for example, because they have heart problems. You can find an excellent alternative sport with sports medicine specialists. You have to pay attention to this if you want to train with a cold.

What If I Run Too Much?

If you have sore muscles or a stitch in the side or chest, your body is being overworked, warns the expert. But by then, it is often too late. The body is overtrained, and performance drops continuously. That is why Reer recommends a sports medical check-up or health check-up beforehand. In addition to the right intensity, tips on technique and footwear could also be given. A list of the German Society for Sports Medicine and Prevention with recommended specialists can be found here.

Those who run regularly and moderately live longer. Because jogging strengthens the immune system and trains the organs, it thus prevents many diseases. What are you waiting for? Start training now.

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