Runners, especially those who run long distance, generally have two things in common: sinewy quads and a heavy duty set of lungs. But the perks of running does not stop there. There is so much more that long-distance running can do for you including for your mind and body.
In a recent study done in Finland, researchers found that long distance runners tend to be smarter. In this research, they studied the effects of resistance training on adult rat brains. They used rats with both genetically high and low response to aerobic training. All subjects underwent a 6 to 8 week aerobic training in which they were urged to complete HIIT or resistance training workouts and run.
Prior to doing the research, the scientists had already established the fact that aerobic exercises do have positive effects on the function and structure of the brain. However, they did not know whether HIIT or anaerobic resistance training had the same effect on the brain, specifically to the growth of neurons in it.
It has quite a similar effect to humans. Here are some of the amazing health perks enjoyed by those who run very, very far.
Humans, mice and monkeys share a common peculiarity: a protein that is identified with memory flows in the brain after a run, as stated in the research that was published in Cell Press.
Another odd discovery was unearthed by the University of North Florida when they found that running barefoot can also enhance your working memory. There is about 16% increase in working memory performance in barefoot runners after exercise. This was determined by their ability to remember instructions, directions and understanding information. It is believed that the extra “tactile and proprioceptive demands” stimulates your brain into tapping your working memory more forcefully, boosting its growth and function.
It’s a common notion that running can ultimately have a bad effect on your knees and joints. In some degree, this is true especially when running on high terrain, your knees may experience some pain due to excessive use. On the other hand, something good can actually be benefited from long distance running. According to a research at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, regular running can actually put off late onset knee pain.
It seems that running is particularly advantageous in fighting cancer, according to a research issued by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In this research, they took 2,560 middle aged men as their subjects and observed their health over the span of 17 years. They have observed that the men who were more physically active were less likely to develop cancer. In fact, runners who run for at least 30 minutes per day are 50% less likely to acquire the disease.
A long distance run can put you on a high. Anyone who’s been jogging regularly can attest to feeling much better after a not so pleasing day at work — once you’ve gotten past the first few kilometres.
If you’re still not convinced, there is further research done where it was discovered that jogging (as well as other aerobic exercises) changes the skeletal muscles and removes kynurenine (an amino acid that accumulates when you are stressed and depressed) from the blood. After a run, the body also releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves your disposition.