Running is a vigorous aerobic exercise that gets the heart and lungs pumping, which is good for cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercises like running relax the blood vessels, which in turn, helps keep the blood vessels elastic and prevents high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of heart problems and stroke. (Related: Running Towards Health - Study Shows Running Also Benefits Older Persons.)
Running is also beneficial for the brain. It improves blood flow to the brain and helps maintain the proper functioning of the blood vessels. In addition, running helps preserve cognition. When you run, your brain works on navigating where you are going and monitoring fatigue.
Older people are also encouraged to run for better bone health. Bones become weaker as you age. In fact, after peaking at around the age of 30, bone mass declines by one percent each year after age 40. Too much bone loss leads to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle bones. Running helps maintain or improve bone mineral density. It also helps build bones as it puts force on them, which stimulates new cell growth. Research has suggested that running for at least one or two minutes each day is linked to better bone health in both pre- and postmenopausal women.
Running also helps people at any age manage their weight, improves muscle strength, builds endurance, boosts energy, improves self-esteem, and enhances sleep. Those who run may also experience reductions in body fat, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, stress levels, and risk of depression. They may also live longer.
Before you start running, here are some things you need to keep in mind:
Unfortunately, running is not suitable for everyone, especially those with osteoarthritis. Running may worsen joint pains in this group of people. People with untreated heart or lung problems also need to be cautious when running because it may put stress on those organs.
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