Running is one of the oldest and most popular forms of exercise out there. Its main benefits are weight loss, cardiovascular health, and improved conditioning. It can be done by anyone, anywhere, and has a whole host of physical and mental benefits going for it.
Can’t afford a gym membership or a weight set? Then running may just be the activity for you.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of running three times a week in more detail:
Benefit #1 Weight Loss
The main reason why people start running is weight loss. Due to the massive energy expenditure involved in propelling yourself forward, your body burns around 100 calories per mile run.
Weight loss is a desirable result for most of us in the Western Hemisphere. With high-calorie, processed food abundant, most of us have struggled with our weight at some point during our lives. Running three times a week is a great antidote to this!
Of course, you’ll have to make sure your diet is in check before you start running. If your meals are made up of fast food and greasy takeaways, then running alone won’t magically give you six-pack abs or toned legs.
Benefit #2 – Improved Conditioning
Conditioning and fitness go hand in hand.
Not only will conditioning improve your appearance (and help give you that lean, ripped look) but it’ll also improve your general health and cardiovascular function.
Running three times a week will result in drastic improvements to your overall health and appearance (if you follow the right diet).
Your aerobic capacity will increase allowing you to run further without feeling like you are gasping for air.
Benefit #3 – A Free Way to Exercise
Another great thing about running is it’s completely free.
You don’t need to be shell out money on a membership or fancy equipment – all you need is a decent pair of running shoes and an area to run around.
If you’re looking for a cheap way to exercise, running is a great option.
Benefit #4 – Running Builds Strong Bones
As a weight-bearing exercise, running helps build strength and stability in your bones. Each time you run, you’re putting a strain on your bones and muscles which makes for a great impetus for growth.
Benefit #5 – Runner’s High
Running, like all forms of exercise, unlocks endorphins in your brain and helps contribute to better mental health. This boost in endorphins and the state of euphoria is known in the running world as – The Almighty Runner’s High. Click here if you want to know how to find the runner’s high.
Results include a better mood, less stress, and an overall better outlook on life.
Benefit #6 – Improved Core Function
Running isn’t just a lower-body endeavor.
Your core is working hard to support your weight and keep you stable as you run. As you run more and more frequently, you’ll soon see results in your core.
Related: 10 Best Core Exercises For Runners!
Benefit #7 – Anyone Can Run
There isn’t a steep learning curve to running. Unlike other forms of exercise, you don’t need to spend hours watching videos or joining classes to master the art.
Running can be done anywhere by anybody. It’s built into our DNA, and there isn’t a person on the planet who doesn’t know how to run.
Related: Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Running
Benefit #8 – Running Shapes Your Legs
Your entire lower body works in unison during a running session.
Your quads and hamstrings provide the power whilst your hip flexors and calves provide the stability. Since your legs contain the largest muscles in your body, you’ll be giving yourself a holistic workout should you start running three times a week.
You can also say goodbye to your chicken legs, too!
Benefit #9 – Running is A Social Activity
We all need friends to help us along the way.
Running is a great tool to build your social circle and make new friends on your fitness journey. If you’re looking for a new way to socialize whilst getting fit, then running will be the activity for you.
Benefit #10 – You Don’t Have to Be A Pro to Benefit
You don’t have to be Sir Mo Farah to experience the benefits of running.
Even if you start running around the block three times a week, it’s infinitely better than no exercise at all.
If you’re worried about not being a marathon runner just yet, learn to enjoy the progression of running and try to increase your distances and times
Related: 20 Reasons To Run A Marathon
Benefit #11 – Running Gets You Exploring
Ever wanted to check out the luscious fields and flowing streams in your area?
Well, with running, you have a healthy and handy exploration tool. It’ll take you to faraway places and you’ll become more connected with nature as a result.
Exploring will have a positive effect on your mental health, too.
Benefit #12 – Running Improves Your Memory
Another cognitive benefit of running is that it helps engage the hippocampus – the area of your brain responsible for memory storage.
We’re all guilty of losing our phones and wondering whether we left the stove on or not – so running is a great way to improve your memory and get back to your cognitive best.
Running also improves your emotional levels and your attention span. If the effects of running could be put in a pill, then you can be sure it would be a bestseller in drugstores everywhere.
Benefit #13 – You’ll Live Longer
Running dramatically decreases your chances of heart attacks and cancer.
A total body exercise, you’ll be giving yourself a holistic, all-encompassing workout that will benefit your whole body over time.
Are There Any Drawbacks From Running Three Times a Week?
As good as regular running is for you, it’s not without its flaws.
Like all forms of activity, you risk overtraining and subsequent injury if you do too much too soon.
Let’s take a look at some drawbacks of running to give you a more balanced view of the activity.
Drawback #1 – Possibility Of Damaging Your Knees and Injuring Your Ankles if you have Predisposed Issues
If you’re out of shape and you just picked up the running habit, heed this drawback! When new runners start running most of the time their bodies are not used to running and their muscle fibers and facia have not properly built up enough strength to sustain the pavement pounding caused by running. That’s why it is imperative that new, out-of-shape runners minimize possible injuries to their legs by incorporating 2 days of strength training targeted at the legs.
“Activities that put stress on bones stimulate extra deposits of calcium and nudge bone-forming cells into action. The tugging and pushing on bone that occur during strength and power training provide the stress. The result is stronger, denser bones.” (Health Harvard)
Since running is a load-bearing activity, you risk damaging your knees over time. This is particularly likely if you run on concrete, as the impact from the hard floor will shoot up your legs and put a lot of strain on your knees and ankles.
ACL injuries are commonly associated with runners, as are Achilles issues. To try and mitigate this risk, try to run on softer floors as much as possible.
Seasoned runners’ leg muscles have already been subjected to the stresses of building muscles. Seasoned runners are far less likely to have knee injuries as long as there are no predisposed knee issues and they aren’t subjected to constant bouts of overtraining.
It’s also a good idea to invest in a pair of proper running shoes. Flimsy trainers do not have good shock absorption, whereas specialized running shoes are designed to withstand the impact of your feet hitting the floor.
A good pair of running shoes, though, will last you several years, and you won’t need to keep buying a pair every few months.
Drawback #2 – Running Long Distances With Only Marginally Help You Get Faster
Running for long distances is an endurance exercise that won’t help you get faster.
Speed comes from the explosive elements of sprinting and not the cardiovascular elements of running. Therefore, if your goal is to get faster and improve your sprint speed, then running three or four times a week for long distances isn’t for you.
Drawback #3 – Not Improving Your Overall Running Performance
Simply running more regularly won’t help you reach that coveted next level of training.
To get seriously proficient (and fit) aim to progress your running workouts every week. Much like building muscle, your body needs a constant stimulus to spur growth and improvement – running is no different.
Don’t let complacency ruin your workouts. Aim to build upon and improve your performances each time you run if you really want to start seeing results.
Drawback #4 – You’ll Need a Specialized Diet
Exercising alone isn’t enough to warrant massive wholesale changes to your body and health.
Runners need to eat a tailored diet consisting of high-calorie, low-fat, high-protein food to support their fitness undertakings. They also need to reduce their alcohol and junk food intake as much as possible.
Becoming fit is a journey, not a destination. If you’re not willing to put down the beers, then running will only help you so much. Trust me I still like to have a good beer, especially after racing!
Healthy food is also (on average) more expensive. To eat 3,000 calories of McDonald’s is one thing, but eating the same amount in whole foods is another, more expensive, form of diet.
Diet plays a massive role in shaping your body, so prepare to start meal prepping.
Running three times a week is loaded with benefits. You’ll become fitter, happier, and more social on the way, and you’ll also dramatically reduce your chances of serious disease and illness.
Running is not perfect, though, as it’s common to pick up niggling injuries, and you’ll have to develop a progressive training program and niche diet to ensure you’re making real progress and not just repeating the same challenge over and over again.
Still, running regularly is one of the best forms of exercise humans have. We’ve been doing it for our entire history, and it’s certainly an activity everyone can, and should, do for the plethora of physical and mental benefits it has to offer.
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