Here’s What Happens to Your Body Once You Start Running Regularly (Even If You Don’t Notice It)
What happens to your body once you start running regularly?
Seriously, I want you to ask yourself that.
It’s interesting, right?
If you’re not too knowledgeable on the topic you might not know.
I know when I was running consistently a few years ago it definitely changed a lot for me.
My endurance was better, I felt revitalized and just overall I was energetic, motivated and a more athletic person because of it.
I was always curious as to how I was changing myself.
I felt the change. I just couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was going on.
The obvious things I noticed, but deep at its core — what was really happening to me?
In today’s article, I’m going to be talking about exactly what happens to your body once you start running regularly.
You’ll learn how it affects the:
- The heart
- The lungs
- The body
- The brain
Let’s talk about it.
What Happens to Your Body Once You Start Running Regularly?
I think we can all agree — the heart is an integral part of our existence.
Without it, our body would simply shut down.
It’s the main workhorse of your body.
Think of it as a power generator. It provides energy and function to every part of our body. And when the power goes out, or a wire isn’t conducting properly — body parts can’t function.
As you begin to run regularly it will affect your heart in many ways:
1. It will lower your blood pressure — running will reduce your blood pressure both at rest and while exercising. A stroke’s number one risk factor is high blood pressure. It’s also a common risk factor for heart disease.
2. Running can help you lose weight — being overweight puts a lot of stress on the heart and makes it work harder. Which makes it a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke.
3. Strengthens muscles — this helps your muscle’s ability to draw oxygen from your blood. Which takes a lot of the workload off of the heart from pumping blood to the muscles.
4. Lowers stress — exercise can help relieve stress. This is for many factors. The main one is — it promotes the release of endorphins which have been shown to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone). We’ll talk more about this later.
5. Reduces inflammation — when you exercise regularly inflammation is reduced as your bodily systems react to the challenge of exercise. The body must adapt to the routine.
6. Slow down or even stop the development of diabetes — research shows while also combined with strength training (e.g. lifting weights, cross-fit etc.) running can reduce the chance of diabetes by over 50%.
Running regularly will also help build stronger lungs.
The reason for this is that when you exercise your lungs work harder to supply oxygen to your muscles.
As your fitness improves your body becomes better at getting oxygen into the bloodstream and sending it to the muscles being worked.
This is partly why your breathing is improved during exercise. There’s less of a demand for oxygen because your body is so much better at distributing it and using it.
Your lungs, heart and muscles all improve in their ability to use oxygen and distribute it.
So far I’ve talked about how running can help the heart and the lungs. But, what about the body?
More specifically your muscles, bones and joints.
As you already know exercise increases your muscle mass. Which makes your muscles stronger.
It’s also been known to:
- Help maintain bone strength and build bone density
- Control your body weight and help with weight loss
- Improve your balance
- Make it easier to fall asleep
- Increase your stamina
- Build leg strength
There’s one point I want to highlight here and it’s the improvement of your sleep. Or your ability to fall asleep.
The topic of sleep is a deep subject but the gist of what you need to understand is that sleep is essential for your body to recover and grow.
When you sleep you relax every part of your body. From your muscles all the way to your brain. This allows your body to fully recover physically and mentally.
If you’re exercising regularly, sleep is even more important. You need to give your body time to relax and repair its muscles.
We all know how great you feel after exercise.
I touched on the aspect of how exercise can help release endorphins (the feel-good neurotransmitter) and lower cortisol in the process.
But running can actually have many effects on the brain. Some of which you may have never known.
Let’s take a look at some other factors.
In a study done 454 elderly people took part in annual physical exams and cognitive tests. They did this for about 20 years and agreed to donate their brains for research when they passed.
The participants were given devices that would track their physical activity and movement every second of the day.
The people who moved more scored better on tests with memory and thinking. And when physical activity was increased by one variation it was associated with a 31% lower risk of dementia.
In short — exercise has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function.
Besides endorphins, there are 3 other brain chemicals that receive a boost from regular exercise.
Dopamine, serotonin and endocannabinoids.
The areas of your brain associated with stress response are packed with receptors for endocannabinoids. When the endocannabinoids lock-in with these receptors — they provide a feeling of contentment and reduced stress.
With consistency, running can and will even rewire your brain’s reward system. Higher amounts of dopamine will be released leading to an increase in motivation and joy.
Dopamine is looked at as the reward chemical.
You experience dopamine when you accomplish tasks as simple as eating and drinking.
Lastly, with the boost of serotonin, you may find yourself in an overall better mood.
When we think of running regularly we mainly think — we’ll be able to run faster and longer
While this is true. It has a vast range of benefits that we discussed.
Yes, you might be able to run faster and longer.
But. You’ll also be:
- Building a stronger heart
- Building stronger lung
- Building bigger muscles
- Creating a body that burns calories easier
- Improving your memory and brain function
- Increasing the levels of brain chemicals that affect your mood
I mean, what’s not to like?
So, share this with a friend who you think could benefit from some of these effects. Take a mental note on what stood out most to you!
And use that, as your “why” to keep moving forward in your fitness journey!