With the pandemic going on and most of us having to work from home it’s obvious to say that we are not moving around as much as we used to do. With our immune system being more important than before to fight off those Covid-19 cells, I thought to myself what if I run 5km per day for a whole month? Would that improve my immune system? Would I feel fitter and grow huge calves?
Scientific investigations have proven that compared with non-runners, runners have 30% to 45% less risk of dying due to a cardiovascular disease(1). Forget running 5k everyday, running for 5 to 10 minutes on a regular basis with a pace slower than 6 miles per hour significantly reduces deaths by all causes and cardiovascular diseases. During this challenge which I completed myself as well, to be honest I did skip a few days in between, I noticed the changes in my cardiovascular system significantly. How so I hear you asking.. Well nowadays everyone has a smartwatch and I own myself one as well, I noticed the huge difference in my ‘resting’ heart rate. Before I took on this challenge my resting heart rate was at a high 70 mid 80 beats per minute. Nowadays my resting heart rate is usually around 65 beats per minute! A lower resting heart rate is a sign of a healthy heart.
Increased Energy-level and Mental Well-being
You know how they tell about exercising will lift your energy up during the day.. Well it’s true! I’ve alwayds doubted this statement myself and approached to it such as: How can exercising increase my energy-level as I always feel tired after my work-out? When we exercise, in our body all types of biological processes start to take place. During these processes cells are being produced and one in particular called ‘Mitochondria’ leads to increased energy-levels(2). Moreover, after a heavy work-out you’ll have a better and deeper night of sleep which will give you a more rested state of mind the next morning. To cut back to my own experience, and yes I’ve tracked this with my smartwatch as well, it’s definitely true. My average deep sleep was longer when compared with the period before I took on this challenge.
On a psychological and mental aspect studies have shown all sorts of benefits of running. It reduces stress, anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness and it provides a general feeling of happiness. Well if you want to have it scientifically explained: After running a biochemichal substance called endocannabinoids, similar to the ‘happy’ substances in cannabis, are being released into your body. This natural chemical makes its way to your brain through the blood flow and makes you feel more calm while also reducing stress.
What is this runner’s high I keep hearing and reading about? Some athletes and leisure runners experience this and it can be described as such: ‘A relaxing state of euphoria’. This can be interpreted in several ways ofcourse. But from the experiences I’ve heard and read about it basically is endorphines being released and the runner feeling a certain calmness and drive to go even further. From my own experience I can say that probably I have experienced similar feelings as described above. For me the runner’s high is that moment when you hear your steps on the gravel or asfalt in a steady rythm. When you just think about the next step that you’re going to place, the route that you’re folllowing and you simply see and think about the horizon laying in front of you. These moments while you’re running and you just simply think about your current work-out and nothing else is so relaxing and makes you forget about all of your problems. That for me right there is the runner’s high..
Running everyday for 5km’s will grow the primary muscles you use while running such as the quads, hip flexors, calves, glutes and core. Your general fitness and muscle endurance will increase significantly, while the majority of fitness fanatics will say cardio is not building muscless a research has actually proven it does grow mass and muscles! If your main goal is to grow in mass obviously weight lifting is the primary way to go, but cardio exercises have also proven to grow muscles. As a 1.89 male weighing between the 89kg to 90.5kg I myself have experienced some muscle growth while participating in this challenge. Not only the earlier mentioned ‘running-muscles’ had grown, but I also saw some improvements in my pecs and shoulders. Or this could also be the outcome of having lower bodyfat due to regular cardio-workout.
To Wrap it Up.. Should You Do It?
If you’ve read all of the items in this article you’ll come to the conclusion that running is super healthy and it’ll make you feel better in your body and mind. How did I experience it? I will soon be uploading a video with my full experience, thoughts and reviews about my daily runs. I did struggle in the beginning to run each and every day, I’m not going to lie the first week is going to be tough as hell! Your legs will feel sore and you’ll barely be able to perform your daily chores or feel too exhausted to go to work. But after that first week you’ll see significant improvements and your general energy will have improven a lot! So my advice is for you guys to start of slowly. Your first day doesn’t need to be 5km’s in one go, you can run 2km’s walk another kilometer and try to finish the 5 running. Take it easy and listen to your body, recovery is very important after excercise so fill your body with the right nutritions and get proper rest. You have to see this challenge as an intesive way of introducing you to running and cardio-exercises and their benefits to your body. As I’ve experienced so many benefits of running I will keep on running but I assume it will be once or twice a week at the maximum.
- https://www.jacc.org/doi/full/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058, Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk, Duck-chul Lee, Russell R. Pate, Carl J. Lavie, Xuemei Sui, Timothy S. Church, and Steven N. Blair
- https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/does-exercise-really-boost-energy-levels, Does exercise really boost energy levels?, MD. Toni Golen, MD. Hope Riccioti