Looking to gain a stronger, healthier body and a sunnier outlook?  Looking to shed calories quickly and easily? Searching for a way to channel your stress? Looking to make some new friends? Running is your weapon of choice! Running is one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around and can benefit almost every part of your body, as well as your mind. Still not convinced? While it may not be everybody's favorite form of exercise, knowing what it can do for your life just may make you look at running in an entirely new light. Here are 10 reasons to hit the ground running.

 

1. Destress

If you have an approaching deadline, exercising may feel like the last activity you have time for, but its benefits can actually lower stress and help you work more efficiently. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that high-intensity exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety. “Running is a great stress reliever,” says running coach Ashley Crossman. “There is nothing quite like letting out your frustrations, stress and anger through a good run.”

2. Torch those calories super fast

Running is one of the best calorie-burning exercises. According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person running a 12-minute mile burns approximately 298 calories every 30 minutes. In comparison, walking a 17-minute mile, yoga or water aerobics burns 149 calories while lifting weights burns 112 calories for the same amount of time.

3. Boost your Immune System

If you find yourself contracting colds frequently, running could help fend off some of those annoying bugs. An article from Harvard Health recommends regular exercise to promote healthy living, lower blood pressure and control weight. Exercise also aids circulation, helping your immune system work more efficiently. And researchers are looking into how much exercise affects an individual’s susceptibility to disease in the first place.

4. Clear your head  

If you’re stuck on a problem or experiencing a mental block, running may help. Ashley Crossman, running coach, personal trainer, and owner of She Runs Strong, says running is a great way to shake off the mental fog. A 2014 study published by the American Academy of Neurology found that those with higher cardiovascular fitness had a better cognitive function.

5.  Enhance your mood and say goodbye to the blues

Running can be a good cure for when you are feeling down and low. It may seem like the last thing you likely want to do in this mood, however, you will find that after only a few minutes of running, your brain will start to secrete hormones that naturally improve your mood. In fact, there are few things in the world that can better or more rapidly treat depression than exercise such as running.

Running really is incredibly beneficial to the body, mind, and spirit, and you will find that even short runs can leave you feeling more energized, more focused, and better able to enjoy all that life has to offer.A 2005 study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise can boost your mood and improve your overall feeling of well-being. Establish a regular running routine for a high-intensity workout to improve your health and spirits

6. Need an excuse to eat carbs?

And not just whole grain “healthy” carbs. We are talking refined pasta, white bread, and cookies. Simple, fast-acting carbohydrates are a runner’s best fuel, and upping your intake—strategically—can help you run better, and recover faster, per research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Some runners even eat Skittles on their long runs to stay energized, Hamilton says.

7. Runner's High Is Real

When you run, your brain pumps out two powerful feel-good chemicals, endorphins and endocannabinoids, explains Justice. The latter sounds a lot like cannabis, right? That's for a reason. Chemically, the endocannabinoids your body produces during a run aren't all that different from marijuana's mood-altering chemical, THC. The most studied mid-run endocannabinoid, called anandamide, was actually discovered when scientists were trying to figure out how pot gets people lit.

8. Support your community

Running provides an opportunity to help yourself while you help others. A vast number of running-related fundraising opportunities are available, allowing you to give back while getting fit. Keep tabs on upcoming events to see how you can contribute. Plus, registering for a race will give you a deadline to make you more motivated to meet your goal.

9. Get some “me” time

Between meetings at work, family & social obligations and the constant inundation of emails, social media, and texts, it can be hard to escape the daily chaos. Running coach Ashley Crossman says running can be as community-oriented or as solitary as you choose. “It’s often the only ‘me’ time I get,” she says. “With the demands of work and family, running is sometimes the only time I have 100 percent to myself.” If you need to decompress and get away, grab your sneakers and hit the open road.

10. Gain a new skill quickly

Running is an inherent skill. Unlike running, mastering the techniques and skills to swim, ski, bike, play tennis and other sports often requires a long learning curve. Running has a very quick learning curve. If we could do it at age one, it’s really not that hard at any age. Make sure to learn about proper running form and guidelines for starters, then lace up and give it a try. For instance, Runner’s World contributor Jennifer Van Allen recommends using quick, short strides and ensuring your foot is not in front of your knee when it hits the ground.

11. Make some friends and stay motivated

Whether you run with one buddy, or join in a running club, the sport is all about community. And post-run happy hours.

12. You Can Do It Right Now: It's Free!

Not only is running great for your body and mind, it’s good for your wallet. Run in a park, on the beach, on a public track, in the mountains or down the street. Save money on gym memberships or exercise equipment by simply lacing up your running shoes and running. And away you go!

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