Running for Health – Is it Worth the Effort? [The Science]

Blog Body Movement & Workout Running for Health – Is it Worth the Effort? [The Science]

11.19.2019 0 comments

We’ve all heard that jogging and running are some of the best forms of exercise for weight loss, improved health, and fat-burning. So, like good lemmings, we go along with it because “X trainer” or “our buddy” told us that was the case.

But how much do you really know about running and its effects on your health? After all, as recent research has proven, resistance training and HIIT is more effective for weight loss and fat burning than low-intensity, steady-state exercise like jogging or running.

So does it actually work? Or are you using time that could be better spent engaged in other activities?

One study decided to ask that very question!

Running for Weight Loss

The study, conducted in April 2019 [1] in Australia, looked at not only the effects of running on overall health, but on the health of men and women specifically. More accurately, they examined whether or not running affected each gender differently, or if the results were the same across the board.

To that end, the Australian researchers gathered 4,720 people—54.1% women and 45.9% men. All of the participants were given a questionnaire that analyzed a number of factors:

  • Physical activity

  • Lifestyle habits

  • Training characteristics

Once the data was gathered, the researchers used chi-square tests to compare the subgroups of male and female runners. They analyzed the information to determine not only the running habits of both groups, but also the effects of the exercise.

Interestingly enough, men tended to be runners far more often than women. Though the average among the entire study was 20 to 40 kilometers run every week (over the course of 2 to 5 running sessions), men tended to run more—not only more than 40 kilometers per week, but in six or more running sessions. While women did run, they were far less likely to run longer distances or more often when compared to men.

Of the runners studied, the majority (72.9%) had “normal” BMI, and they had a lower rate of obesity or overweight than the “average Australian”. The study provided irrevocable proof that running “may lead to a clinically significant weight loss irrespectively of sex, participation in other sports and injury history.”

Running for Women’s Health

As the above study proved, men tend to be runners more often than women. But it turns out that women can actually benefit from running A LOT more than you might think!

One medical article dating back to 1991 [2] found that exercise can have a noticeable effect on female health—specifically bone health, heart health, and mortality rates.

According to the review of multiple cross-sectional studies, “Sedentary women can improve cardiorespiratory fitness through aerobic exercise programmes, and the women with the lowest level of initial fitness have the highest proportional improvement following training. Regularly exercising women have a significantly reduced risk of fatal and nonfatal coronary events, and low cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with an increased risk of death and nonfatal stroke.”

The review found that women who exercised regularly—specifically, in this case, referring to running or jogging—had lower risks of strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiorespiratory events. Not only that, but they had lower LDL cholesterol levels, higher HDL cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of hypertension and high blood pressure.

Women, who are at a higher risk of osteoporosis (bone mass loss) as they age, will find that exercise helps to maintain their bone mass, even as they go through menopause. Regular exercise is crucial for not only preventing bone mass loss, but actually increasing bone mass—thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Then there’s the weight loss and fat-burning factor!

The study found that recreational running helped to encourage better weight loss, but also better weight control. Runners tended to have lower body fat content, and their nutritional intake was better balanced than those who didn’t run. They also consumed fewer unnecessary calories, which helped to prevent unwanted weight gain.

As you can see, running is excellent, no matter who you are! Men and women alike will benefit from running—if nothing else, you can prevent weight gain and encourage fat-burning by running a few hours every week.

But for women, specifically, the benefits are incredible. You can prevent a lot of the problems associated with growing older—high blood pressure, osteoporosis, weight and fat gain, and the list goes on—and maintain better health, all with just a bit of running.

Now isn’t that worth the effort?!

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Resources:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30972899

[2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2011682

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