Physical Benefits of Running
February 1, 2007 10:05am CST
Many women probably begin a running program with a physical goal foremost in their minds, like losing weight or toning their legs. These are definitely some potential benefits that come from running, but they're not the only ones. One of the greatest benefits of a runner's lifestyle is that it strongly contributes to a woman's overall health in so many ways. While much national attention is given to the epidemic of heart disease in men, it's also the number one cause of death for women in the United States. Running and other cardiovascular activities are excellent ways to strengthen the heart and ensure the efficient flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, things that are proven to help to decrease the risk of a heart attack. One of the first things a doctor will tell you, if you have hypertension, or high blood pressure, is to start exercising. Exercise, combined with maintaining a healthy weight, is one of the best ways to naturally reduce your blood pressure if it's above normal. Running also helps keep high cholesterol in check. The more miles you run, the more health benefits you'll reap. According to a National Runner's Health study, "The benefits of running forty miles per week versus under 10 miles can be dramatic. Women in the forty-mile club reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by an estimated 45 percent." Now, 40 miles a week if a lot. But it's good to know that we can have a degree of control over our physical being and our health as we continue to age. And with the more effort we put into it, the more rewards we'll reap. Some of the other overall beneficial side effects of running and other cardiovascular exercise include: 1. More efficient immune system. Your body functions more efficiently and is better able to fend off those nasty germs. 2. Arthritis control. According to the Surgeon General, running and other cardiovascular exercise can actually help control the joint swelling and pain that goes along with arthritis. 3. Breast cancer prevention. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, "One to three hours of exercise a week over a woman's reproductive lifetime may bring a 20 to 30 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer. 4. Increase bone density. Women are susceptible to osteoporosis (a decrease in bone density due to loss of calcium) as we age. Running and other weight-bearing exercises, increases bone density, which can fend off osteoporosis. 5. Healthier skin. Running improves circulation, which in turn encourages your body to flush out waste products and fat deposits that can affect your skin and complexion.