(Flickr – Tom Thai)
Today thousands of people of all ages, shapes and sizes will run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston, Massachusetts. While that much running may sound like punishment to many, the participants in the Boston Marathon know about the following five major benefits of long-distance running.
Running makes you happy
When you run, your body releases endorphins which limit your perception of pain and trigger a feeling of euphoria that is commonly referred to as the “runner’s high.” In addition to this short-term mood boost, many studies have shown that habitual running fosters long-term feel good vibes and it can even be used to treat depression.
Running makes you smarter
Running long distances improves concentration, memory and decision making. According to a recent study, 30 minutes of running results in a 5-10% increase in cognitive functions which could be the difference between a good and average letter grade.
Running makes you slimmer
It’s kind of a no-brainer that exercise burns calories, but running also helps your body burn more calories at rest. Studies have shown that running leads to excess post oxygen consumption or “afterburn” which causes the body to continue to burn calories long after you stopped.
Runnning strengthens your joints
To the contrary of every non-runner’s two cents, running is not bad for your knees. In fact, many studies have concluded that running makes joints stronger and more durable.
Running increases lifespan
By running for 30 minutes, five times a week, you can live longer. On average, runners add three years to their life expectancy and running also reduces the risk of certain cancers.
Yes, those first few minutes are torture, but running is one of the best things you can do for your health, both physical and mental. For student-athletes, long distance running can help you get in shape in the offseason as well as keep you sharp in the classroom. But if you’re thinking of running a marathon, remember that you must be at least 18 years old to run in an official event like the Boston Marathon.