Cardio isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and with good reason. It’s not particularly enjoyable to be huffing, puffing, and out of breath with minimal gains to show for your efforts. However, running remains a fantastic form of cardio and can have many benefits for our health. This article will cover how exactly running changes your body, how it affects your muscle quality, and if it’s for you.
Changes to Expect with Running
The first and probably the most sought after effect of running is fat loss. You see it all the time in Hollywood films, people running to lose weight, get fit, and burn fat. Fat burning basically refers to the ability of our bodies to oxidize or use fat as energy instead of carbohydrates. Greater fat burning typically occurs during a low-intensity and long duration workout—aerobic activities like running fall under these workouts.
Cardiovascular exercises encompass a wide range of activities, including swimming, running, and walking. It is not limited to these exercises, though, as any strenuous activity that raises the heart rate and increases blood pressure may be considered a cardiovascular exercise. These stimulate your metabolism, helping you burn calories even after your workout.
Builds Lower Body Muscles
Of course, it should go without saying that the muscles in the lower body will develop once you start running. When the image of most runners come to mind, the chances are you won’t picture someone who’s exceptionally toned with bulging muscles. No, you’d picture someone like Mo Farah, whose skinny body is efficient for long-distance runs. However, studies have continually shown that running does increase muscle mass, reporting skeletal muscle hypertrophy in the muscle groups most utilized during which. Muscles such as the lower back and core, which stabilize the body, quads, hams, glutes, and calves are most involved during running.
Improved Mood and other Mental Benefits
You’ve probably heard of the term “runner’s high,” and this phenomenon is more than just a runner’s made-up fantasy; in fact, runner’s high has been well-studied and reported through scientific research. Starting out a run can be tedious, to say the least; your breath gets heavier, your heart starts pumping more rapidly, and you can feel your muscles begin to flare up with activity. However, once you finish your run, your body may produce endocannabinoids, biochemical substances that are similar to cannabis, only naturally produced. This leads to a relaxed, joyous state following an intense workout session.
But that is not the only mental benefit of running. Cardiovascular exercise sparks the growth of a whole host of new blood vessels in the brain, leading to improved cognitive performance. Some mental benefits include improved memory, better multitasking ability, and an elevated disposition overall.