Is Running Healthy?


Kristof Hemstad, Writer

We all have vague ideas as to the healthiness of certain activities like eating well or running, but today I’d like to definitively say how exactly running benefits a person physically and mentally, and what harm it might cause. To explain why any of this matters, I’d say it is important for us to know the healthiness of running if we are to be motivated to enjoy its benefits. Or, if it turns out to not always be worth the risk, then we know when to avoid it.

Some sites, such as the “BetterHealth Channel,” are very supportive of jogging, naming benefits like how running can:

  • help to build strong bones, as it is a weight bearing exercise
  • strengthen muscles
  • burn plenty of kilojoules [or calories]
  • improve cardiovascular fitness
  • help maintain a healthy weight

Other sites, such as “Health Journal,” warn “too much exercise can lead to overtraining — a state of chronic stress and fatigue that occurs when you overtax your body, exceeding its ability to recover from strenuous exercise,” referring to excessive jogging as a source of overtraining.

Alright, so what is overtraining anyway? Well, “Health Journal” states “When you become overtrained, you stop making progress. Your strength goes down, your mile time goes up. You get slower, weaker, tired. Your mood worsens, and you get sick more often.”

In other words, your body doesn’t function as it should and you suffer for it. Pretty straightforward, right? So, how do you get it?

Health Journal states “overtraining results from a combination of many factors: too much training, too much life stress, lack of sleep, under-eating, illness and nutrient deficiencies.” It would seem overtraining may be acquired in a plentiful variety of ways such as by not eating well or sleeping enough, and isn’t strictly limited to the idea of simply exercising too much.

Now, let’s go back and consider the benefits of running. We’ve all heard running is a means of burning calories, but what makes it so special in that regard? The site “verywellfit” states: “According to a report from the American Council on Exercise, running burns more calories than weight training, swimming, cycling, or even downhill skiing.”

This does well to establish that running is particularly helpful for burning calories, given how it is considered better than other extremes like cycling or swimming in regard to calories burnt.
Now, what does running do for cardiovascular fitness? states “Running is an excellent means of conditioning the cardiovascular system… Echocardiographic studies show that distance runners have larger, thicker left ventricles than do sedentary controls; their hearts are more efficient than those of sedentary people, pumping a larger volume per beat.”

This clarifies the advantage runners have in cardiovascular fitness. Greater left ventricles means a more effective heart that pumps a greater amount of blood per beat.

To sum things up, running is no doubt a healthy activity worth participating in. You will receive benefits such as burning calories and improved cardiovascular fitness from running. However, running too much risks overtraining, leading to harm such as chronic stress and sickness, meaning you should take care not to overdo it.

Happy running!