The Preventative Benefits of Running
At South Island Orthopedics, we are dedicated to improving the musculoskeletal health of our patients. Our team consists of orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists trained in their respective specialties to help manage pain and injury. We provide care for the full range of musculoskeletal conditions; this includes wear and tear injuries from overuse, degenerative diseases that cause ongoing pain, and pain after an injury. In addition to the care we provide for pain-related conditions, we also believe in the importance of preventative care. One of the best ways to strengthen your bones and muscles to minimize injury in the first place is through exercise. Of the many ways we can incorporate exercise into our daily routine and lifestyle, running is one of the simplest exercises that has a fruitful return on investment for each of us.
At South Island Orthopedics, not only do we help make recommendations on healthier choices outside of our offices, but our doctors also practice what they preach. Our very own Dr. Garrett Moss competed at this year’s IronMan World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October. In this elite competition, he swam 2.4 miles from Kailua-Kona Bay, biked 112 miles across the Hawaiian lava desert to Hawi and back, and then ran 26 miles across the coast of Big Island.
There are several benefits to running and you do not have to train or be a professional athlete to benefit from running. If you are a beginner, It’s best to start small, practice jogging or walking uphill at faster speeds than you are used to when walking, to help work your way up into a jog and run. The health benefits of running are endless, in this article, we will focus on three benefits of running.
Strength Benefits of Running – Stronger Life
Running may not only allow you to live longer, but live stronger. A recent meta-analysis studied the health benefits of running by analyzing the association of running to the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. The study found that runners have a 25-30 percent lower rate of mortality than non-runners. The study stated that “any amount of running, even once a week, is better than no running.” Another study found that runners gained three years of stronger life – runners were found to have better cardiovascular fitness, better body composition, lower cholesterol levels, better glucose and insulin control, stronger bones, and better hormone regulation.
Immune Benefits of Running – Stronger Immunity
Running helps improve your immunity, which is especially important given the current COVID-19 spread. A 2019 study analyzed the immune benefits of running – they found that running can improve your body’s surveillance against disease, lower inflammation, enhance gut microbiome, reduce risk of upper respiratory infections and influenza, and improve antibody response.
Mental Benefits of Running – Stronger Brain
Running has been found to improve brain health! The mental health benefits of running are facilitated through a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF levels increase in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory formation and learning. BDNF promotes the growth and survival of neurons in the brain. People with low BDNF levels may suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and depression. Running also provides protection against the brain plaques that are linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Lastly, by increasing oxygen-rich blood to the brain, the brain has vital fuel that it needs to perform optimally. Similarly, by increasing cell growth in the hippocampus, running has been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Although winter is approaching, the weather is still great for running. When possible, take advantage of enjoying the outdoors and reap the benefits of this avenue of preventative care. As always, practice running with caution, especially in the cold, and increase your intensity moderately. At South Island Orthopedics, we have a team of dedicated orthopedists who specialize in sports medicine. If you are experiencing pain while running or exercising, please contact us to request an appointment.