Running is one of the most accessible and beneficial exercises around. It can fit around the tightest of schedules, and is suitable for people of almost any age, body type, and fitness level. Small wonder, then, that there are now estimated to be more runners on English streets than cyclists. And one more thing – It’s completely free!
But what makes running just so fantastic? What are its benefits and how can it contribute to a life of better health and wellbeing? Well, let’s take a look…
Running is good for the heart
According to a study that looked at over 55,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 100, runners are up to 50% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than non-runners. That’s a very significant statistic, and an encouraging reason to consider regular running as a way of developing and maintaining a healthy heart.
One of the reasons why running is so good for the heart is that it decreases your resting heart rate. This means that, during day-to-day activities, the heart isn’t working as hard and doesn’t over-exert itself.
It makes you feel good
Ever heard of runner’s high? It’s a sort of euphoric state runners sometimes reach in the throes of a good run. A feeling of exhilaration and flow.
In the words of Jesse Pittsley, PhD, of the American Society for Exercise Physiologists, “Psychologically, runners may experience euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time while running.”
Talk to any runner about it, and you’ll probably find them nodding along with a happy glaze over their eyes: “Ah yes, I know the feeling. . .”
Although it’s unclear as to precisely what causes runner’s high, a popular theory is that it has something to do with the neurotransmitters (including dopamine and serotonin) secreted whilst running.
And this feel-good factor leads directly into the next point. . . .
It boosts confidence
Aside from the natural, confidence-boosting properties of feeling good about yourself, there are a number of other reasons why running is excellent for self-confidence.
There is of course the physical aspect. Not only can it change the way you look and feel on the outside, but it can have a positive effect on your internal systems as well. So, as an exercise, running can be an excellent promoter of body confidence.
There’s also the goal-oriented aspect of running. Time goals, distance goals, weight goals, and so on. Many people believe that setting and achieving goals contributes towards boosting happiness, and happiness can help us become more confident.
Then there’s the social aspect. Joining a club, making new friends, connecting with likeminded people, and being part of a community. All these factors can contribute to increased feelings of self-esteem and confidence.
Running may reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress
Along with its mood-boosting qualities, running is also thought to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is perhaps best explained through first-hand accounts, of which there are plenty. But as a starting point, and if you’re interested in diving a bit deeper into this particular point, have a look at any or all of these very informative and revealing articles:
One of the most portable pieces of workout gear around is a pair of running shoes. That’s really all you need. And the beauty of running is that you can do it almost anywhere, at anytime, completely for free.
You don’t need to join a gym to run. You don’t even need that much spare time. Even if you only have 20 minutes a day, you can put in a quick run around the block. If you’re close enough, you could even run to work, combining your daily commute with your workout routine.
Running is flexible enough that it can be tailored to multiple fitness goals. Whether you’re aiming for distance, speed, weight loss, or are running for fun, you can work it around your preferences.
Another mark of its flexibility is that running can be performed at whatever social or competitive level you desire. You can run on your own, join a non-competitive club, or get out and race. The choice is yours, and whatever you choose, you’re still getting fit and increasing your overall wellbeing, no matter what level you decide to work at. So it’s perfectly suited for both casual exercisers and the more competitive-minded.
Running may help you live longer
According to a study, runners generally “have a 25%–40% reduced risk ofpremature mortalityand live approximately 3 years longer than non-runners.”
Part of what makes running such a potentially powerful tool for living a longer life is that it reduces your chances of dying from just about, as one article put it, anything.
It’s even been said that running for as little as ten minutes a day can still provide the benefits associated with lower risk of disease and premature death.
Two Ted Talks on running
For a little more running inspiration, take a look at these fantastic talks by Christopher McDougall and James O’Keefe.
A few books on running
And for even more inspiration, why not take a look at the books below…
So what are you waiting for? If you’ve got a pair of running shoes hidden away in the back of the wardrobe why not get out and go for a jog? And it doesn’t matter if you’re new to the exercise. There are plenty of apps and programmes out there designed to help get you started. One excellent resource is the NHS Couch to 5K app, which takes you through a 9-week programme designed to get you from complete beginner to running 5 kilometres.
When exercising from home, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do and when to do it, especially if you follow online workout videos. That gnawing, can’t-make-a-decision-what-to-put-on, feeling isn’t only limited to streaming sites. Sometimes the sheer volume of offerings that come back when you type in “HIIT workout” on YouTube can feel daunting.
So for those times when you’d rather just get on and do some exercise without all the decision-making of what you should be doing, why not try an exercise program? These are, essentially, curated calendars guiding you through a certain number of pre-chosen workout routines. And the good news is that there are plenty of them out there.
From yoga to HIIT, if you look hard enough you can find a program to suit almost any taste. But to keep things simple for now, we thought we’d share 6 excellent exercise programs that’ll help keep you motivated to move every day. We hope there’s something here for everyone!
IGNITE | 28 Day Yoga Program | ALL LEVELS YOGA CHALLENGE – Breathe and Flow
30 Day Workout Challenge – MrandMrsMuscle
30 Days of Yoga – Yoga With Adriene
30 DAY STRETCH CHALLENGE – Fearless Motivation Fitness
Yin Yoga is an excellent practice for restoring both the body and the mind. Whether used as a recovery method for athletes, an anti-stress tonic for busy people, or a simple tool for unwinding in the evening, this slow and soothing yoga style has something to offer to everyone.
We’ve written about the benefits of Yin Yoga previously on the blog, so today we thought we’d jump straight in and share some great classes for you to try at home. The videos below range from 15 to 90 minutes in length, and are presented from shortest to longest. So whatever your time restraints, we hope there’s a class here to suit your schedule.
15 Minute Mindful Relax & Restore Yin Yoga Practice
Yin Yoga for Inner Peace, Calm and Joy
Stretch the day’s tension away with this yin yoga sequence (35-minute practice) | Rituals
Yin Yoga Without Props – Full Body Yin Yoga for Beginners
45min. Yin Yoga “FULL BODY STRETCH” with Travis
50 Minute Full Body Yin Yoga Practice | Breathe and Flow Yoga
1 Hour Yin Yoga Class Without Props – Full Body Yin Yoga Class
Finding time for longer workouts isn’t always easy. Between work, family, and social commitments, exercise can sometimes take a back seat. And carving out 60 minutes a day can be much easier said than done. But when we’re struggling for time, there may be a deceivingly simple solution: micro workouts.
A micro workout is pretty much what you’d expect it to be – a very short bout of exercise which can be performed in a matter of minutes.
For many of us the idea of a super short workout may seem counter-intuitive. The general understanding is that longer is better. And whilst micro workouts probably shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for more prolonged and disciplined forms of exercise, there may be a valid place for them in our daily schedules.
Micro workouts explained
For a more in-depth understanding of what micro workouts actually are, and how you might benefit from them, take a look at this excellent video from the Mark’s Daily Apple YouTube channel:
Micro workouts in studies
There’s mounting research-based evidence to suggest that micro workouts can be good for us. One interesting study took a group of inactive people and asked them to pedal as hard as they could on a stationary bike for 20 seconds, 3 times a day (each round was separated by 4-5 hours of inactivity). After six weeks, the group’s CRF (cardiorespiratory fitness) improved by 9%, compared to a 13% improvement in a similar group who were asked to do the same 3 x 20 second bike sprints but in a 10-minute session, separated by 3-minute rest periods.
Another study found that just 1 minute of intense exercise within a 10-minute session (carried out 3 times per week over the course of 12 weeks) was just as effective in improving indices of cardiometabolic health in sedentary men as 50 minutes of continuous exercise per session.
YouTube is good for many things, and exercise is one of them. With a bit of space, a yoga mat, and a good internet connection, you have access to hundreds upon hundreds of high quality exercise videos. Any time of day, all for free.
So for those days when the weather’s too cold, or you’re not feeling like leaving the house, or you just want to supplement your gym sessions with shorter home-workouts, here are 14 excellent Youtube channels for a free workout fix.
Good documentaries can be life changing. They can inspire us and motivate us towards positive change. This can be especially true of lifestyle documentaries. Watching people work towards their goals, and seeing all the ups and downs they encounter along the way, can be very heartening. It reminds us that we’re not alone on our journeys, and can give us a much needed boost when we’re low on enthusiasm.
So then, for both your viewing pleasure and personal development, we’ve compiled 16 inspiring documentaries on all things sports, nutrition, exercise, and health.
A documentary about bodybuilding in the 1970s. Following amateur and professional bodybuilders (amongst which are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno), it shows us just what it takes to stand out and excel in a highly competitive sport.
Prepare to revel, gawp, and pale at this group of runners who are all taking on RacingThePlanet’s 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series. It’s widely regarded as the most prestigious outdoor footrace series in the world (and one of the hardest). If you watch this, you’ll see why.
The Game Changers
An eye-opening documentary about meat, protein, and strength – a must-watch for anyone interested in nutrition.
Andy Murray: Resurfacing
This documentary follows Andy Murray, British tennis superstar, from 2017 – 2019, chronicling his struggles with injury, surgery, and returning to the sport. Very inspiring.
Watch it on Amazon Prime.
The Last Dance
Michael Jordan is hailed as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Certainly he’s one of the most famous. This 10-part documentary series takes viewers through Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ quest for a sixth NBA Championship in 1998. Described by Vulture as “the greatest sports documentary ever produced”. This is one to watch if you haven’t already.
If you’ve ever wondered if changing your diet could change your life, then this documentary is for you. It’s an inspirational story of discipline, dedication, and transformation. And what’s most uplifting is its simple message that we all have the ability to turn our lives around if we just put our minds to it.
All Or Nothing: Manchester City
Relive the season of 2017-18 when Manchester City won the premier League title. This film takes us behind the scenes and gives an insight into how to team worked and played.
Watch it on Amazon Prime.
Last Chance U
The first season of this fascinating and thrilling series focusses on the East Mississippi Community College football programme, following the team as they try to prove themselves at make it into the big leagues. It’s a fantastic watch even for people completely unfamiliar with American Football.
A classic and very well-known documentary that’s been around for some time now. Super-Size Me works on a simple premise: what happens if you eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days? It’s an interesting and, at times, alarming film, and in the end may help encourage viewers to think more carefully about what and how they eat.
Last Chance U: Basketball
If the 5 seasons of Last Chance U have left you wanting more, worry not. The team behind the fantastically compelling series are back with a basketball-focussed version of the documentary. Following the East Los Angeles College Huskies, it takes a deep dive into the world of community college basketball.
Watch it on Netflix.
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a cheerleader? How hard it is? How competitive? If you’ve never considered cheerleading to be a sport, then give this one a watch – it might change your mind.
Watch it on Netflix.
Drive To Survive
For anyone with any interest whatsoever in Formula 1, this series is absolutely not to be missed. Following the lives, both on and off the track, of today’s F1 drivers, Drive To Survive reveals the ins-and-outs of this high-octane sport in incredible detail.
Watch it on Netflix.
Pelé is widely recognised as one of the most legendary icons in the history of football. This compelling film chronicles his rise to becoming the “King of Football” amidst a turbulent era in Brazilian history. Whether you like the sport or not, it’s incredibly interesting to watch the extraordinary career of one of the all-time great footballers unfold before your eyes.
Watch it on Netflix.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die
A controversial inclusion, perhaps, but it would be wrong of us to exclude a documentary that, in the grand scheme of the world, is so close to home. No matter who you support, or how you feel about the team in question, this documentary does a great job of showing how football can sometimes be more than a sport, and can ultimately hold a community together.
Watch it on Netflix.
Tyson -The Movie
This man needs little introduction, because it’s difficult to anyone who’s unfamiliar with his name and his legacy. But no matter how well you think you know him, watching a film about Mike Tyson’s life, with the man himself as narrator, can’t fail to be exciting and interesting.