Benefits of Running
Exercise Benefits and Setbacks
Any form of exercise is beneficial to the body. Daily exercise helps to make regular bodily processes more efficient, faster, and occur with less strain on the internal organs. It can also help improve blood flow, oxygen consumption, and even the strength of your heart. Daily exercise has also been linked to a lower body fat percentage, and a lesser risk of obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), and improving one’s heart rate.
Now, there are plenty of benefits to exercise overall. However, there are some that are linked more closely with cardiovascular exercise, such as running or jogging, and some with strength exercise, such as weightlifting or powerlifting. So where do the differences lie between the two?
Cardiovascular exercise has both long and short term effects on the body. Let’s first review the short term effects in detail, and then shift over to the long term effects. Whether long or short term, though, there are no downsides to daily exercise. The only precaution would be doing too much exercise in a short amount of time. While daily exercise is great when combined with adequate rest periods, too much cardiovascular exercise combined with too little rest leads to:
1. Lower mortality rate
2. Changes in heart structure and/or vessels
3. Higher risk for developing abnormal heart rhythms
4. Enlarging of the heart
5. Decreased efficiency in pumping blood and oxygen to the body
6. Decreased efficiency in removing waste products
7. Increased risk of skin cancer (when running outside)
8. Decreased recovery rate (muscular and cardiovascular systems)
So while cardiovascular exercise is entirely beneficial, make sure it is in the right doses! (source linked here.)
Short Term Effects of Running
No matter how far or how hard you are running, the body undergoes immediate changes during cardiovascular exercise. Some of these effects can occur instantaneously and some take more time to develop, however all are beneficial. Some short term effects of cardiovascular exercise are:
1. Increased Heart Rate — Your heart rate speeds up due to a surge of adrenaline. In fact, the heart begins to accelerate even before you begin exercising because the body is already preparing for intense movement. Adrenaline surges due to the body’s “fight or flight” complex, and since it is going to be performing more work than average the body needs to increase the heart rate to increase overall blood flow. This ensures more oxygen will pump through the veins and give the organ systems and muscles more ATP energy to perform more work. Your heart rate will also continue to rise until you either stop running or your maximum heart rate is achieved.
2. Increased Heart Stroke Volume — The heart, because it is working harder, will be able to pump more blood throughout the body in a shorter amount of time. This means more oxygen to the working organ systems, which means more energy to power your run!
3. Increased Blood Flow — At rest, muscle systems require only about 15% of the body’s total blood volume. During exercise, however, the muscles and surrounding organ systems demand nearly 80% of the body’s total blood volume. As a result, most of the body’s blood supply is shuttled to whichever muscles are working the hardest. Once the body begins to come down from this increased work, blood flow returns to normal.
4. Increased Blood pH — As your body starts to focus blood flow, energy, and nutrients towards only the working areas of the body, it’s efficiency of removing waste products decreases. In addition, working harder means harder breathing, which produces more carbon dioxide, the waste product of oxygen. Therefore, more Hydrogen ions are floating around in the blood when they normally wouldn’t be, which increases the acidity levels of the blood. No need to fret, though: as soon as blood flow returns to normal and your breathing regulates, the Hydrogen ions are expelled and your blood pH returns to normal.
Long Term Effects of Running
Running once or twice in your life will increase blood flow and oxygen uptake for a short amount of time. However, daily cardiovascular exercise can have longer lasting positive effects on the body than sporadic running can. Some long term benefits of cardiovascular exercise are:
1. Resting Heart Rate Decreases — Over time, your body becomes more efficient at pumping blood throughout the body. In addition, the size of the heart physically changes. It enlarges, like any other muscle would, due to constant intense work. As the heart grows bigger, it takes less beats to deliver the same amount of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, your resting heart rate will decrease.
2. Decreased Stroke Volume — Similarly to a decreasing resting heart rate, the body’s stroke volume will also decrease. This means that the heart requires less strokes to pump the same amount of blood throughout the body, which decreases the overall rate.
3. Increased Blood Circulation — In accordance with improved blood flow, the rate of oxygen delivery to the body increases. This is largely due to an increase in the size and number of capillaries in the veins, which aid in oxygen delivery across the whole body. With more capillaries and a higher rate of efficiency for the ones the body already produced, more oxygen can be supplied to the body’s muscle and organ systems with much less effort.
4. Decreased Blood Pressure — More efficient blood flow means less strokes of the heart, which requires less work. With the heart working less, the body’s blood pressure decreases by approximately 10mmHg.
5. Increased Blood Volume — The body is no longer working as hard to deliver blood to the body. It also has the increased capability to produce capillaries, as well as red blood cells (RBCs). This increase in red blood cells helps to increase total blood volume available for circulation throughout the body.
(source linked here.)
In short, daily cardiovascular exercise significantly helps to improve the body’s circulatory and cardiovascular systems. By partaking in any form of cardiovascular exercise on a daily basis — such as running, jogging, long distance running, sprinting, etc. — the body becomes a powerhouse of blood circulation and oxygen delivery. It also ensures that, over time, the body has to work significantly less to reach the same levels of fitness. Therefore, daily cardiovascular exercise benefits the body in both the short and long term, and helps to improve it in many different ways.