I am a runner, long distance runner. For me running is not about burning calories and being fit, it’s about how it makes me feel. Some people love clubbing and cocktails, I would always give that up for a run.
Some say running is good, others say it’s not. I don’t know anything in this world that doesn’t have 2 sides: a good and a not so good side. Do you? Nothing is perfect.
How about running? Running has its benefits but it also has its downsides. In the end the quantity and quality of your running, as well as how you grew up (active or not), nutrition, overall health etc will impact whether a certain activity will be good or not so good for you, in this case that certain activity is running.
The lists below are not exhaustive of course, there is much more going on in the body.
The good, some of the benefits of running
- primal movement – walking and running, along with squatting, are some of the most primitive forms of movement – hunters were walking and running every single day – anyone can run, we were designed for it (maybe not marathons though)
- stress on the body – for bones to grow strong and thick the skeletal system must be loaded or put under a certain amount of stress, the right amount (this is particularly true for kids who are still growing, but not only) – running is a natural, body weight, dynamic exercise
- full body development – running is a full body experience
- strong heart and lungs – just you regularly train your biceps to become and stay strong, your heart and lungs need to work as well to be strong (exceptions when someone already has health problems)
- stronger immune system
- psychological benefits – lower stress levels, more focused and productive, more relaxed
- weight balance
- balanced blood sugar levels (glycogen)
- hormone function
The not so good
- hormones – I have put this in both sections because for some people the stress of running can cause an imbalance at hormonal level, while for others the body responds well, self-regulates and finds the perfect balance; hormones are complicated though
- injuries – stress on the skeletal system is good, but too much stress can be detrimental and can lead to injuries – particularly combined with poor use of the body in general (poor posture, sitting position, movements such as walking, lifting or carrying etc)
- limited mobility and flexibility – unless you keep the mobility and flexibility as a regular element of your training, your muscles, tendons. ligaments will become tight and can affect the joints (many people experience knee pain that is not structural damage and could be solved through stretching)
- loss of muscle mass – if you run and only run, without weight training you may burn fat but you will also burn muscle; it is important to remember that muscles are there to take some of the pressure from the joints; the body is a perfectly calibrated machine, everything works together, there is not other way
- decreased immunity – training is good for the immune system, but too much of it brings the immune system down; with the body’s defenses down it opens doors for viruses to enter the body – this is true for any type of training, not only running
Our skeletal system has changed. As we grow we are not as active as our ancestors used to be at our age. She skeletal system (including the jaws) has changed shape. As mentioned earlier to develop strong and think skeletal system it need to be put under some pressure when I grown, today most kids sit in front of the computer. So there is an imbalance between our stone-age bodies and the modern environment we have created.
Furthermore, the shoes we wear modify the was we carry our bodies. Proprioception ( the perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body) is very limited in shoes – you don’t feel much when you place your foot on the ground, everything is soft and you feel not impact no matter how aggressive you walk. Thus we have altered the way we stand, walk and run.
And that causes a lot of damage, because we essential shut down all the signals our body uses to tell us that we strike the ground too aggressively, or use one side of the body more than the other, or jumping and landing to hard on the heels.