Need to even out your virtue-to-vice ratio? Is your motivation to finish a pint of ice cream stronger than your motivation to finish a 5K? Well, we’ve got the skinny on the one healthy habit you need to pick up: Running. Not only will running make you happier, healthier and smarter today, but in the long — ahem — run, too. Read about the benefits of running, and then head outside to experience them for yourself.
• It Makes You Happy. We’ve all heard the term “runner’s high,” and now science backs it up. A study in Physiological Behavior showed that running boosts brain reward pathways similar to addictive (read: dangerous) drugs. Running has also been proven to protect against anxiety and depression.
• It Makes You Skinny. OK, so you already knew that running burns major calories, but guess what? Running revs up your metabolism so much you burn more calories even after you stop running. Bonus points for running high-intensity intervals.
• It Makes You Healthier. A partial list of diseases regular running can help prevent: heart disease, certain types of cancers, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke. Running won’t keep you alive forever, but it will keep you alive longer.
• It Makes You Smarter. A collection of studies shows that running for 30 minutes three times a week leads to faster information processing, greater mental longevity, better decision making proficiency and a longer attention span. It’s no wonder that many CEOs say they wouldn’t be where they are without running.
By the Numbers
1 out of 6: The number of people in the U.S. who jogged at least once in the past year.
12:37.35: Record for the fastest 5k, held by Kenenisa Bekele.
908: The number of calories burned by a 200-pound man in an hour of running (10 min/mile pace).
40: Miles the Cherry Creek Regional Trail spans, from Confluence Park to Franktown.
2,522: The number of finishers in this year’s Cherry Creek Sneak 5K.
15: Percentage increase in testosterone in men running 2.5 hours per week.
44.6 million: Pairs of running shoes sold in the Unites States in 2012.
48: Number of marathons Budhia Singh completed before age 5.
5: Number of minutes you need to run each day to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease-related death.
72: Percentage of runners ages 18 to 39 who think running together as a couple leads to more sex.