Most people believe that to maintain a healthy heart you need to jog or run regularly. However, there are some aspects of life that mean you are unable to do so, so does that mean you aren’t able to achieve a healthy heart? We will discuss the benefits of running on your heart as well as constraints that mean you are unable to partake in the sport.
How Running Benefits the Body
Running has multiple benefits to your body both physically and mentally. Just a few things that this activity can change your lifestyle are listed below:
- Improves your health
- Lowers blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Boosts mood
- Relieves stress
- Heightened self-esteem
- Reduces symptoms
- Social aspects
When running your body requires more nutrients and oxygen so your heart needs to work harder to replenish these nutrients. By making your heart work harder it makes it stronger, which in turn means that the capillaries and arteries too are strengthening. This change in the body lowers your blood pressure as well as preventing things such as heart attacks and strokes.
Aiding weight loss is another benefit of jogging frequently. As this activity is a form of cardio that is performed for a long period of time at a lower rate, it opens the aerobic energy pathway. This pathway uses stored fat as a source of energy which in turn will help you to lose weight when carried out regularly.
Known as the ‘runners high’ the feeling you get during and after running enhances your mood and also helps to relieve stress. It is also believed to aid in the reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms. You can also find that your cognitive and creativity skills are enhanced which benefits runners of all ages mentally.
Runners also find that their self confidence is greatly increased when taking part in this cardio activity. This is mainly down to the health benefits that they reap from running plus the fact that they can set and achieve goals on their own. By motivating and tracking how far, long or intense the running terrain is, you will feel a sense of achievement when you complete the tasks and targets you have set yourself.
If you are not one for running on your own, there are numerous amounts of ways you can get out there with a group of like minded people. Ask your friends or a family member to join you, or you can even join your local jogging group. Just have a look online and enquire, we are sure you won’t regret it. Running is an excellent way to socialize and meet new people, you can also train to take part in jogging for a charity and raise money for a cause close to your heart by doing something you love.
How Heart Disease Can Benefit from Running
Heart disease goes by many names such as Cardiovascular Disease and Coronary Artery Disease. This is caused when plaque starts to accumulate on the artery walls which are your body’s main transport links to your heart for blood. Although it is most common in older generations, this build-up can begin to occur when you are younger and progressively gets more and more.
Under the heart disease umbrella are factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Regular cardio exercises are believed to reduce these additional illnesses which affect the heart. When you have high blood pressure, running can benefit this greatly as it’s internal effects help to lower the pressure. However, if your pressure is very high it is suggested that you seek professional advice before throwing yourself into running. As they may feel that medication to bring the blood pressure down will be better suited for your requirements than cardiovascular exercises.
Running can affect heart disease in multiple ways and various symptoms can be seen. When running the blood is travelling faster around the body and because of this it needs a higher amount of oxygen to keep up with your body’s demands. The symptoms will occur when the blood is struggling to get past the blockage caused by the plaque. Therefore you would need to stop exercising and go pay a visit to your doctor to discuss further.
Conditions Which Affect Your Ability to Run
In addition to the proven benefits to heart health from running, there are also some illnesses and conditions which prevent you from running. Below we are going to explore some of these diseases and find out if there are any alternative activities which could be carried out in place of this to help maintain a healthy heart from regular exercise.
- Joint problems
- Asthma and respiratory illnesses
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
As the cartilage in your joints are constantly contracting and expanding, you will find that your joints and muscles get stronger over time. Partaking in running is beneficial for problems with areas such as the knees, although the misconception is that the intensity of jogging can be harbouring, it actually benefits the body in order for it to repair and regain it’s strength. Although you will have to go at your own pace when it comes to running and stop if any pain occurs.
Asthma is a condition which affects your respiratory system, and if you have a had a recent flare up of an attack, it would be advised that you avoid running and check with your doctor. However, if your asthma is under control with your inhaler medications then you should be able to go for a run, although regular breaks and taking your medicine with you if needed is recommended.
Concussion is a high risk brain injury and needs proper time to recuperate afterwards to avoid any further damage to such a vital part of the body. Therefore you would need to wait ample time and check with the doctor when it is OK to go back out for a run.
Pregnancy has many affects on the body and it is best to look after yourself at this point in your life. Intense cardio exercises such as running would be strongly advised against, however your doctor may be able to suggest a more suitable lower impact activity for you to do instead.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E) and Fibromyalgia are both conditions that affect your body intensely when it comes to exercise. Running is heavily advised against with both of these illnesses as the body is unable to cope with such high cardiovascular activities. For M.E your doctor may suggest a progressive exercise plan whereby you can still keep fit but at small intervals. And for Fibromyalgia which causes extreme muscle aches, they would suggest lighter exercises such as swimming or yoga.
Conclusion – Does Running Improve Heart Health?
So, after discussing above all the benefits of running, the affects on your heart and taking a look at conditions which prevent you from running. We can conclude that running is definitely beneficial to aiding you in maintaining a healthy heart as it boosts your heart rate and helps to keep your circulation going.
This article was written exclusively for Sports Fitness by Loren Astbury. Shop with us for all your running clothing and accessories get your heart in better shape.