(AD) Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Multi-marathoner, coach, yoga teacher, author, wellness journalist, and proud Rotorua Marathon ambassador.

If you want to live longer and have a better quality of life – then run!

It doesn’t matter if you run slow or fast either. There are so many health benefits that it doesn’t actually matter what your speed is. Just keep running – and you’ll get better, stronger, and faster over time.

Here are 7 health benefits of running – according to Andrew Kilding, a professor of sport and exercise physiology at the Sports Performance Research Institute of New Zealand. 

I interviewed Professor Kilding for a 6-page article for the NZ  Women’s Weekly magazine on running recently and he listed these awesome health benefits of running:

  1. Running improves the function and structure of the heart. He explains that as we age, our arteries can “stiffen”. Regular running gets the heart pumping and gives the arteries a real work out. This keeps them “pliable”. The increased blood flow associated with running also helps stop fatty deposits accumulating on the artery walls, which can narrow the arteries and result in high blood pressure at rest – which is not a good thing.
  2. Being on the run burns kilojoules, speeding up your metabolism. This is helpful for weight management. “Your metabolic rate is increased for a few hours afterwards,” he says, but he’s quick to note that “you can’t out-run a bad diet,” he says.
  3. Exercise (and particularly running) also improves resting heart rate and increases aerobic fitness. Professor Kilding says a high level of aerobic fitness has been shown to be one of the best-known indicators of an individual’s long-term health. He explains that in 2016, Duck-Chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, found that even 5-10 minutes running per day at a slow speed is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from cardiovascular disease.
  4. Regular running improves the body’s ability to transport oxygen around the body, so we get more efficient at running, and other physical activities also start to feel easier. Hello feeling fitter!
  5.  Running – or habitual exercise – is associated with a greater quality of life and could also lengthen it, too.
  6.  Running improves your bone and joint health. This is because running is a weight-bearing activity. The impact loads the bones and this results in them strengthening. “This is especially important in later life. Running can be a strategy to maintain bone health,” Professor Kilding says.
  7. Running helps your mental health. “We tend to forget about the mental benefits of running. It reduces depression, anxiety and stress, and can help with cognition, memory and sleep.  Professor Kilding says “I make sure I get out for a run a few times a week. For me, it’s just about getting some time and space on my own, switching off and importantly, getting time in nature.” 

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