Whether you’re already a running pro or are just getting into the running world, you may already know some of running’s more obvious and well touted traits. It’s one of the few exercises that can be done anywhere and doesn’t require an expensive gym membership. On top of that, it gets you outside and is extremely effective at burning calories. In fact, a 185-pound person can burn an impressive 555 calories in just 30 minutes when they maintain an 8-minute mile pace. These reasons alone may convert you to the running world and if you want to take it one step further, long-distance running offers its devotees a whole host of surprising health benefits.
Don’t let those oh-so-serious long-distance runners intimidate you. With a little time and perseverance, you’ll be running among them, clad in neon and spandex, enjoying a runner’s high, and feeling the impact of these serious health benefits.
1. You’ll give off an irresistible vibe
If you’re single or newly divorced, consider long-distance running as your new hobby. Endurance running is closely connected to a man’s reproductive potential, something that women, in their hunter-gatherer past saw as a sign of a good breeding partner. According to researchers, this instinct is still alive today and may impact your ability to find a mate.
2. You’ll be smarter
Not only will you be able to cover great distances and attract a mate, but long-distance runners also think clearer and process information better. Scientists have discovered that the same bodily process that helps fuel the body efficiently also improves memory and learning. One protein, called estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERRy) controls the release of energy to the muscles and brain. If you become good at producing ERRy, your long-distance running times will improve alongside your performance in memory tests.
3. It will keep you slim
It’s no secret that running burns calories, strengthens your muscles, and tones the body, but long distance running really pushes you to discover your full athletic potential. Long-distance running improves your cardiovascular system, strengthens the heart, and increases the blood supply to your muscles. Regular long-distance running will actually enhance your body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy, which is why you rarely see a runner with a pot-belly.
4. Your mood will boost
Even when you barely drag yourself to the gym, the high you leave on is always worth the struggle. Long-distance running is no exception. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden discovered that aerobic exercises purges the blood of a substance known as kynrenine, which tends to accumulate during times of dress and is linked to depression. To top it all off, when you do aerobic exercise like running your body will release serotonin, which improves your mood.
5. Your body will operate efficiently
The more you run the better more your body will begin to run like a well-oiled machine. As you train, your heart will get stronger and will start delivering more oxygen to your body. In return, your muscles (particularly leg muscles) will get better at using this oxygen. The delivery and use of oxygen is called your maximum oxygen uptake and the higher the oxygen levels the faster you’ll be able to run.