Running is considered one of the easiest and cheapest sport. It does not need any special equipments nor any special places as it can be done almost anywhere. Moreover, running is natural thing for human being, so we do not need any special efforts to do it. Although it is considered as the cheapest exercise, it has so many benefits for our health, especially our cardiovascular health. See also health benefits of running in cold weather.
Cardiovascular is a system in our body which includes blood cells, blood flows, all blood vessels and heart. This is the core system in our body after neural system (which includes brain, bone marrows, and neural cells), because even the slightest problem in cardiovascular system can affect other organs, such as lungs, brain and kidneys.
Not only cardiovascular, running also gives benefits to other internal organs, such as lungs, muscles, bones, brain, and kidneys, which are linked with cardiovascular system. Scientists considered running as a very good cardio exercise to prevent or control almost all diseases, including cancers, heart diseases, obesity and asthma.
Here are the benefits of running for cardiovascular health:
1. Stimulates Better Blood Flow
Running routinely will stimulate blood flow more smoothly in our body. When the blood flows smoothly, the heart can pump the blood easier to all parts of the body, giving precious nutrients needed by our internal organs. Good blood flow is the key to healthy cardiovascular system.
2. Prevents Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a condition where blood vessels become narrow and rigid, thus can disturb blood flow. When blood flow is smooth and steady, the risk of atherosclerosis will be much lower. Atherosclerosis can cause hypertension, stroke, and coronary heart disease. A study mentioned that running activity done by atherosclerosis patients can stimulate the forming of new blood vessels, and making wider arteries.
3. Stress Reliever
Like other sports, when we do running, our body release endorphine, a natural morphine which acts as natural painkiller and calming agent, thus makes us feel calmer and lower our stress level. When we are stressed, our body release cortisol and adrenaline, hormones which tighten blood vessels and increase blood sugar level. See also benefits of exercise for emotional health.
4. Promotes Good Sleep
With smooth blood flow and lower stress, we can get better quality of sleep. Lack of sleep (and bad quality of sleep) has been known to cause hypertension. See also benefits of sleeping 8 hours a night.
5. Prevents Hypertension
Atherosclerosis is the main cause of hypertension, other than genetic and high natrium intake or natrium retention. We can also see from the points above that stress and bad sleep can cause hypertension. People who do running as much as 16 kilometers per week have lower risk of hypertension up to 39 %.
6. Prevents Stroke
One of the benefits of running for cardiovascular health is to prevent stroke. Running regularly makes our blood flows smoothly, reduces blood pressure, and reduces blood viscosity, thus prevents stroke.
7. Lower Cholesterol Level
High LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides is usually caused by excessive intake of fat, especially saturated fat. Running for 15 minutes can burn 100 calories, thus burning excessive fat. People who run regularly have lower cholesterol level, up to 34 %.
8. Lower Blood Sugar Level
Running can burn excessive sugar intake, thus lower blood sugar level. This is why diabetic patients are advised to do running regularly. High blood sugar level and high lipid profile are known to cause atherosclerosis too.
9. Prevents Heart Disease
When blood flow is disturbed, the heart needs more effort to pump blood. This is not good for the health of heart muscles. A study showed that people who exercise actively have lower risk of heart attack up to 50%. To keep heart disease away, we can run with steady speed for at least 15 minutes everyday. To get the best result, we should take care of our diets too.
10. Increases Metabolism
When we do running, most of our muscles move actively and convert carbohydrates, fat and protein into energy rapidly. This will make us sweat a lot, even when we are resting. Increased metabolism is good to lower blood sugar and blood cholesterol level, thus preventing us to get cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, stroke or heart disease.
11. Prevents and Treats Obesity
Obesity is caused by many factors such as genetics, hormonal factors, and excessive eating. With increased metabolism obtained by running regularly, fat in our body will be converted into energy, thus reduces excessive body weight. Obesity is linked with many diseases, such as hypertension, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. See also lists of healthy fruits for weight loss.
Other Benefits of Running
Here are more benefits of running for cardiovascular health:
12. Better Life Quality for Asthma Patients
Asthma patients are advised to do running regularly, to increase their lungs capacity. This is monitored by the doctor every 3 months. When lungs capacity increases, they have less frequent exacerbation and better quality of life. See also health benefits of diaphragmatic breathing.
13. Increases Immunity
Exercising regularly, including running, has been known to increase our immunity system. Thus, we cannot get flu and other infections easily.
14. Prevents Erectile Disfunction
Bad blood circulation also affect sexual life, especially for men. Men who run 5 hours a week have lower risk of erectile disfunction up to 83%.
Best Time to Do Running
We can do running in the morning and afternoon. Running in the morning is the best for heart and blood vessels, because when we are running the body is moving continuously, and the heart pumps blood faster. Morning air is more fresh, thus helping the blood deliver more oxygen to all cells in our body, including heart muscles, blood vessels and brain. See also benefits of eating breakfast before exercise.
Running in the afternoon also have great benefits. It burns more calories than running in the morning (best for losing weight), relieves stress and gives better quality of sleep.
After seeing the benefits of running for cardiovascular health, we should implement it in our lives too. To prevent boredom, we can alternate running with other sports, such as swimming, cycling, and games like badminton, tennis, etc. See also health benefits of fitness.