Running at first glance is a seemingly simple activity.
Many think, “What’s so fun about running in circles for hours?”.
Trust me, it’s one of those activities that seem totally mundane until you try it for yourself.
The benefits you’ll gain from a simple running habit are endless.
You don’t have to be a pro-runner to reap the rewards — which is great news!
Not only does running provide a huge amount of advantages to our health + body, but it provides an unbelievable amount of mental benefits as well.
I’ve never learned more about life or what I was capable of until running entered my life.
In this article, I’m going to cover the 31 most unbelievable benefits that running offers…just in case you weren’t already convinced.
The greatest thing about running is you can do it anytime, anywhere.
All you need is a quality pair of running shoes and a little motivation to reap the benefits.
Seriously, it’s the greatest!
I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be able to run anywhere you go — which is super handy when traveling to far off places!
This is no secret…and acts as the main motivator for many new runners.
Running is one of the easiest and most fool-proof ways to shed pounds.
Due to the boosted metabolism you’ll receive, you could burn an additional 190 calories AFTER you’ve finished your run! (1)
If running taught me one thing, it taught me that I’m capable of doing anything through consistent action and following through with my plans.
It teaches you to COMMIT to something to see results.
This life lesson can be attributed to ANYTHING!
Aerobic exercise has been directly linked as a nonpharmacological treatment for reducing blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
For some people, getting enough aerobic exercise has even been enough to reduce the need for blood pressure medication. (2)
This is huge!
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t” — Elle Woods
I mean…she wasn’t wrong!
Endorphins are responsible for inhibiting the production of pain signals in the body and for causing feelings of euphoria.
An experiment scanned the endorphin levels of 12 athletes after a two-hour run.
The results showed that their endorphin levels significantly increased! (3)
A consistent running habit can alleviate symptoms of depression over time. (4)
And you don’t have to run 10 miles a day either!
Only 20-30 minutes daily is sufficient for running to act as your own personal, dependable anti-depressant!
While there is a large number of extra running accessories we can buy…we really only need a pair of running shoes when it comes down to it.
Now, you definitely don’t want to skimp on the running shoes, but in comparison to other sports out there, running is insanely cheap.
You don’t even need a gym membership to do it!
Science has proven that the aging of the immune system can be slowed by daily exercise!
Normally, as one ages, an area called the thymus — which houses the hormones that control the immune system — begins to shrink.
Studies have shown that daily exercise can reverse this effect! (5)
It’s been found that running can spark creativity in your brain, regardless of the current mood your in!
Running actually DOES boost your mood as well, but does so independently.
This is why it’s highly recommended to go for a run, before working on any type of project where creativity is necessary. (6)
A full running workout can work to boost your metabolism for up to 14-hours!
In the scientific study, a full workout was classified as 45-minutes of “vigorous activity” — a.k.a. a 30-minute run with regular warm-up and cool-down would suffice. (7)
This is huge in terms of weight loss, or managing one’s weight in general!
When we exercise, blood flow is increased in all areas of the body — including our brain!
This improves our cognitive function and allows us to generally think better + more clearly. (8)
When I first started running consistently, I would often get told I had a “glow”.
Turns out, there’s a reason for this!
Due to the increased blood flow we keep talking about, additional oxygen + nutrients are consistently being transported to our skin cells.
This gives us that “post-workout glow” we so often hear about!
And if that’s not motivation enough to sign up for a race, that feeling you’ll get when you cross the finish line trumps all.
Running allows you to better handle stressful situations in a calm and collected way.
This is because it’s been scientifically proven that running can immediately reduce the activity in the prefrontal cortex — which is where decision making + overthinking happens! (9)
The overthinker in me loves this benefit, as running as significantly helped reduce my stress levels over the years.
One of the best parts of running is it’s a solo sport!
I’m a non-competitive person by nature, so this concept sits well with me.
The only person you’re competing with while running is the person you were yesterday — cheesy, but true.
Want to hear something crazy?!
Running IS NOT bad for our knees!
This has become a popular myth in the fitness community over time.
The truth is, according to a recent study running can actually reduce the inflammation in knee joints! (10)
The key to maintaining joint health is to NEVER run injured.
Also, always make sure to pay attention to proper running form to prevent further stress on your joints.
In order to complete runs consistently, you’ll have to become a boss at managing your time!
An easy way to gain this skill is to start training for a race!
You can easily find a training plan that will schedule your runs for you, which gets you in the habit of managing time properly.
Within weeks of running consistently, I felt like a professional badass.
It’s really hard to explain to a non-runner, but completing run after run seriously makes you feel like you can accomplish ANYTHING.
A compilation of studies also proved that regular exercise improves body image for all individuals — regardless of stature! (11)
I can 100% speak for this one!
I am always, without fail, more productive after I’ve completed a run.
A study shows that mandatory running increased neural stem/precursor cells in mice — which basically means that running increased the production of critical brain cells that boost brain function. (12)
Regular aerobic exercise has the ability to promote better short-term and long-term memory in human beings.
Studies have suggested that both the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex — which control deep thinking and memory — are more prominent in individuals who exercise regularly. (13)
Running instantly reduces blood sugar levels because the contracting muscles utilize glucose for energy during the run.
It’s also capable of upping your sensitivity to insulin, meaning your muscles can more easily use insulin to acquire glucose during physical activity. (14)
These effects can be seen short-term, but are really maximized through a long-term running habit.
After I was running consistently, I naturally craved healthier foods.
This was due to my body requiring certain nutrients to stay fueled pre-run and post-run.
Eventually, my taste buds completely changed and it became easy to maintain a healthy eating habit!
It has been proven that running can help with feelings of anxiety and has the ability to reduce panic attacks.
A study was conducted by scientists to better understand the connection between physical activity and feelings of anxiety.
It was found that even those predisposed to feelings of anxiety were better able to resist panic attacks when they were physically active. (15)
We all know it too well.
That mid-afternoon slump that hits us out of nowhere.
Luckily for me (and you!), ever since picking up a consistent running habit, I no longer feel sluggish mid-day!
It gives me that boost of energy I need all day long.
The effect that running has on heart health has been a topic of study for many years.
It’s been found that you don’t need to log dozens of miles every week to reap the benefits!
You’ll still have a lower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, and lower bad cholesterol if you maintain a regular running habit. (16)
When I started a running habit, I was sleeping like a baby within days.
Before you know it you’re caught in this beneficial circle where due to the better sleep you’re getting FROM your runs, you’re able to complete your runs more easily!
You might think you get “okay” sleep now, but incorporating a regular aerobic exercise routine will give your body the restful sleep it deserves. (17)
I like to think of it as “earning” my sleep.
I started running because I was motivated by running bloggers I found online.
After I started running and friends saw my progress, a number of them picked up a running habit within weeks.
Success is extremely contagious.
With consistent running, it’s no question that you’ll develop some killer calves and thighs to go with it!
While incorporating a strength training routine into your fitness regimen is beneficial, running alone very effectively helps you get lean + toned legs over time.
There are AMAZING benefits to running outdoors!
Firstly, I believe it makes you a better runner, since running outside tends to be more strenuous (I see this as a positive, okay?)
Also, exercising outside can further alleviate symptoms of stress by reducing heart rate and cortisol levels. (18)
Not to mention that running is one of the few sports you can do ANYWHERE — including some of the most beautiful destinations in the world!
My favorite way to run outside is trail running — read how to get started HERE!
Contrary to popular belief, there’s not some super small, elite group of individuals who are “runners”.
IF YOU CAN RUN, YOU ARE A RUNNER…no pace or distance requirements exist on this front.
To be quite honest, this may be my favorite part of the sport.
This fact will become apparent to you when you’re running in a race, and you see EVERY type of person out there on the course with you!
It’s a beautiful thing, guys!
I saved the best for last!
Running ultimately makes you a bazillion times happier.
While there are plenty of physiological reasons for this — some of which we already mentioned — I believe that everyone has different reasons for why it makes them happy personally.
For some, it’s the incredible physical transformations they receive…
For others, it’s the feeling of completing something of magnitude every day…
For me, it’s that it shows me I’m capable of anything.
I hope you find your reason!
In case you weren’t already convinced, running has 100% changed my life from the inside out.
It was entirely responsible for forming me into the happiest version of myself, and establishing my healthy identity.
And if it seems too hard, I promise you, these 31 benefits make it so worth it!
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.