Man running in the city against the sunset

9 Reasons to Give Running A Try

Running is one of the oldest and most effective forms of exercise, and many people today use it as their primary workout source or as a cardio-boosting addition to a more elaborate routine.

There are many reasons why running as exercise can be great: it increases stamina, tones the body and blasts calories. 

Furthermore, its benefits for mental health are not negligible either – running can help balance stressful schedules and help you center your thoughts.

Moreover, it’s practically free and can be done pretty much anywhere!

If this intro hasn’t made the case for running yet, let’s dive into all the reasons why this type of exercise might just be the ideal fit for you.

It Lowers Stress Levels

If you tend to exercise on the regular, you might already be aware of the fact that workouts can do wonders for your mood.

When we’re breaking sweat, our body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters which are incredibly beneficial in reducing stress and pain levels.

Even as little as 20 or 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise can trigger the release of endorphins and contribute to an overall improved mood.

And running is a great way to squeeze in that precious endorphin-boosting session into your day-to-day routine.

Not only will running activate your muscles and get the blood flowing through your veins, it will also give you an opportunity to be focused on nothing but yourself and your thoughts.

This will help you clear your mind and re-balance yourself.

Moreover, if your daily schedule tends to be hectic and your sleeping pattern is all over the place, running can contribute to a more regulated sleep-wake cycle, due to release of serotonin and other sleep-facilitating hormones.

Finally, the more you exercise, the physically fitter you’ll get. Watching your body transform for the better will increase your confidence and make you feel more comfortable in your skin.

It Increases Your Productivity

Our day-to-day lives are riddled with all kinds of stressful situations.

Whether you are worrying about your job, studies or other obligations, sometimes it’s hard to focus and keep your priorities straight.

When your mind is frazzled, it’s easier to slip up and fall behind on your schedule.

With running, you will not only feel more energized and physically fit, you will also improve your concentration and sharpen your mental abilities.

You will feel revitalized and ready to take on whatever challenge is presented before you.

Moreover, if you turn running into a regular habit, you will feel motivated to arrange the rest of your schedule around it and stick to your routine.

It’s no wonder that so many great minds of our time were also enthusiastic runners.

It Will Make You Go Outside

Very few modern-day jobs require being on your feet or spending prolonged periods of time outdoors – the majority of people go about their day sitting behind screens in stuffy offices and cubicles.

This can greatly affect your mood and make you feel sluggish and devoid of energy.

And if you don’t often come up with an excuse to venture outdoors, running can be a great tool for readdressing this issue.

By exercising out in the open, you will find a way to reconnect with nature, which will instantly make you feel more happy and fulfilled.

woman running outside with dog

How is this the case?

Well, being out in nature is closely linked to feelings of accomplishment and happiness.

Moreover, running outside will also replenish your body with Vitamin D, which tends to decrease during dark winter months.

Vitamin D can also contribute to strengthening your bones, soothing your nerves and improving your overall immune system.

And when you mix the benefits of being out in nature with a body-boosting workout, it becomes clear why this combination can be so beneficial for your overall wellness.

It Doesn’t Cost a Thing

One of the main reasons why people are hesitant to take up exercising is the potential cost.

These days, even the most basic gym membership can put a strain on your wallet, not to mention the dizzying prices of tailored workout routines and personal trainers.

Furthermore, once you fall down the rabbit hole called the fitness sphere, you might start feeling that you’re not doing exercise right unless you’re shelling out big bucks for all the right equipment, workout gear, and state-of-the-art accessories.

It’s no wonder that the financial aspect of exercising turns people off physical activity.

Luckily, this is not the case with running.

To start running, all you need to do is get out of the apartment and get your two legs going.

OK, perhaps a pair of good running shoes might make your life easier.

Of course, if you want to enhance your running experience at a later date, you can always do so with various workout-facilitating accessories.

However, none of this is absolutely essential if you’re just looking to set your body into gear – which is what makes running one of the cheapest forms of exercise.

You Can Do It Anywhere

Sometimes, the hardest part about exercising is actually dragging yourself to the gym.

This is especially the case if you don’t live close to it.

And if you exercise at home, sometimes you’ll find this isn’t the ideal setting either, especially if your living space is cramped or if you share your apartment with other people.

If you decide to go running, you won’t have to worry about any of this.

And yes, while running on treadmills is very convenient and requires the least amount of effort (especially during cold winter months), going outside to run is even better and more beneficial for your mind and your body.

Is there really that big of a difference, you ask?

The answer is yes! Whether it’s in nature or an urban environment, trail running activates more muscles than running on a treadmill, since your legs and feet move at different angles, depending on the surface and incline.

Young woman running on the pavement in the city

Consequently, you burn more calories and become firmer in a shorter amount of time.

Moreover, you’ll be more mentally stimulated due to constant changes in your surroundings – as opposed to the faceless interiors of gyms and exercise studios.

It’s Great For Losing Weight

If weight loss is the primary reason why you have decided to take up running, then you’ll be pleased to hear that this type of exercise is extremely effective at burning those extra layers of fat.

Even a simple, slow-paced jog can speed up your metabolism and help you shed the pounds faster.

But if you take it up a notch and start doing high-intensity runs, your body will be able to melt those calories away even faster.

Another great thing about running is that your muscles have to keep on working even after your workout is over in order to recover. This is called “the afterburn effect”.

Even better, combine your running routine with a couple of weekly strength training sessions, and your muscles will turn into bona fide fat-blasting machines.

And if you want to fully maximize on the weight loss potential of running, try to maintain a balanced diet. Processed sugars and fats may slow down your calorie-burning journey, so it might be best to switch to a diet packed with whole grains, veggies and nuts.

It Tones the Body

So, we learned how running can be extremely helpful in shedding excess weight.

But this type of exercise can also be efficient in sculpting your body and firming your muscles.

When you run, your legs tend to do most of the work. With time, you will notice how your calves, your thighs and your hamstrings are becoming more defined.

If your workouts involve running on diverse terrain with plenty of inclines, you can also rest assured your glutes will become toned as well.

However, firming your body through running doesn’t end with legs.

If you work out continuously, you will develop a strong and resilient core, which will result in more sculpted abdominal muscles.

A stronger core will improve your posture and prevent the occurrence of injuries during future workouts.

If your main fitness goal is to tone your body, you should make the most of your running sessions.

The best way to do this is to keep them varied and interesting. Combing long-distance runs with high-intensity sprints; try to run on all kinds of surfaces with different inclines.

This type of exercise will activate a good chunk of your muscles and enhance your performance. Plus, you can rest assured your workouts will never be boring!

It Clears Up the Skin

Some benefits of running are skin deep.

But hey, who’s complaining? If you can achieve a glowing complexion in addition to a healthy, toned body, then all the better.

There are many ways in which running helps improve your complexion.

For one, running boosts your circulation, which increases the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients into your cells. This increases collagen production, which then results in plumper, firmer skin.

Moreover, when your skin cells are feeling energized, they are then motivated to shed your body of all the toxins and pollutants that can cause a host of different skin woes.

Moreover, when we exercise, the levels of stress hormone cortisol become gradually lower. And with lack of tension and stress, you lower the chances of developing stress-caused skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

However, in order to maximize on all the perks running has for your skin, you need to take a couple of precautionary measures.

For one, when possible, try to avoid wearing makeup when running.

A combination of thick product and sweat may cause breakouts. A lightweight, salicylic acid-enriched cleanser should give you a clean canvas and reduce the chances of spots and blackheads.

If your skin is prone to breakouts, be that on your face or your body, you might want to invest in quality workout gear. Avoid anything that’s too tight and opt for nature-derived fabrics like cotton or hemp. This way, your skin will be able to breathe and you won’t have to worry about pimples caused by sweat-drenched clothes.

It’s Social

Exercising can often feel solitary.

Between the unfriendly hours and drab gyms, it’s hard to look forward to a good workout when you know you’ll be alone with your thoughts for the entirety of the time.

This doesn’t have to be the case with running, though!

If you find yourself an exercise buddy, you’ll never have to worry about your runs feeling dull or lonely.

Moreover, when you set plans to run with another person, it makes it harder to bail out on workouts. Plus, having someone to talk to and catch up with will definitely make you excited for every running session.

Social running group

Also, running with friends might awaken your competitive streak – by comparing yourself to another runner, you might feel extra motivated to do better with each running session.

And if you don’t have any friends who are willing to jog with you, you can always join a local running club. Not only will you have company during your sessions, you might make some new friends!

Finally, a great way to boost your performance is to join a race in your area. Half-marathons, marathons and charity races will inspire you to achieve better results and become a more accomplished runner.

Has this list convinced you to finally go for a run? With all the benefits running will provide for your body, you’d be foolish not to. Now it’s time to put on your best pair of trainers and hit the ground running!

Young woman laughing

Daily Habits for a Happier Life

Many people believe that happiness is something that happens by chance, but this is not necessarily true…

Instead, think of happiness as a life skill, something that you can work on and develop to ensure that you are feeling consistently happy each day.

Wondering how to do this?

It’s easy. All you need to do is adopt each of these habits into your daily life…

Meditate Daily 

For someone who has not bought into the idea of meditation, the thought of doing this on a daily basis can seem pointless.

However, meditation has been proven to have so many different health benefits, from increasing focus and concentration to improving memory. In addition to all of this, meditation on a regular basis can permanently rewire the brain to increase happiness levels. 

benefits of meditation infographic

Meditation is not something that has to take much time either…

When just starting out, all you need to commit to is a couple of minutes of meditation a day. Even if you are extremely eager to get started, it is always best to begin small, so that you can turn this into a habit that you will stick to.

Pick a time of the day to set aside for meditation, and find a quiet spot somewhere. Sit down comfortably, and then do the following:

  • Focus on your breath as you breathe in, following this through your nostrils, throat, lungs and stomach
  • Do the same as you breathe out, counting your breaths if this helps
  • If you find that your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath
  • Repeat this process for a couple of minutes

It does not matter if your eyes are open or closed, so long as you do this process each and every day. After a week, you can increase your two minutes of meditation to five minutes, and keep doing this in five minute intervals each week.

It will take about a month for this to become a habit, after which time you will likely also notice the benefits that this brief daily meditation is bringing to your mind and body. 

Keep Busy, But Don’t Rush Yourself

There is an incredibly fine line between staying busy and feeling rushed, but it is this balance that can really make a huge difference to how happy you feel.

Research has shown that feeling rushed will inevitably lead to stress, and therefore unhappiness, while having too much free time results in boredom and dissatisfaction

On the other hand, being productive can really boost your happiness, but you need to do this at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Are you someone that often takes on more than you can handle?

The best way to handle this is to stop and think each time an opportunity or project comes your way. Unless you are really and truly excited and passionate about it, you need to learn how to say no.

Exercise

Do you do some form of physical activity each day?

If your answer is no, this is a habit that can really help with your happiness.

How?

Because exercise triggers the release of certain proteins and endorphins in the brain, all of which will make you feel happier. 

Exercise also helps to boost productivity, which will help with the point mentioned above about keeping busy.

Couple running together in the park

Think you do not have the time to exercise each day?

Here are a few ways in which you can easily incorporate more exercise into your everyday life:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Do some window shopping, but at a fast stroll
  • Stand more, whether this may be on public transport or while watching television
  • Do a ten minute long squat each day, or start with a shorter time and build this up each day
  • Install a pull-up bar onto a door frame in your house, and then do one or two reps each time you pass underneath it 

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

In order to really be happy, you need to be able to challenge yourself, and succeed at those challenges. Taking risks and embracing change is so important, even though it may seem frightening at the time.

Don’t like the idea of having to step out of your comfort zone each day?

This does not need to be anything crazy, like jumping out of a plane…

Instead, just try to do something small that you have never done before, whether this may be eating a new ingredient, styling your hair in a different way, or taking a new route to work.

Improve Your Diet

Your diet has a direct impact on your mood, and, even if you already eat quite healthily, the majority of people out there could likely easily make a few changes to improve their diet.

On a daily basis, you should be eating at regular intervals, as this helps to keep your mood stable, and make sure that you do not skip meals.

There are certain foods out there that have been proven to boost the mood, such as:

  • Protein – including eggs, seafood, poultry and tofu
  • Vitamin D obtained through sun exposure, but also comes from egg yolks and soy milk
  • Vitamin B-12 and Folate comes from broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, cottage cheese, lean beef and salmon
  • Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and oats

On the other hand, there are certain foods that can really throw your mood off, making it much more of a challenge for you to feel happy. The main culprit here is sugar, as well as refined white starches. While sugar may give you a short burst of energy, this will soon drop back down, leaving you feeling even crankier than before. 

So, how do you implement all of this on a daily basis?

It’s easy…

Small changes are the key here, as you do not need to completely overhaul your entire diet overnight.

Instead, aim to improve a small part of your diet each day in a way that you would not have normally done. This could be anything from adding one less spoonful of sugar to your morning coffee to incorporating some extra leafy greens in your dinner to swapping your white bread for a wholegrain version. 

Be Appreciative

Whether showing appreciation for someone else, or for yourself or what you have, being appreciative has been proven to significantly increase happiness levels, with some studies even showing that it can boost this by up to 25%

The idea of being more appreciative may seem easy in theory, but how do you actually go about doing this on a daily basis?

Simply verbally expressing appreciation for someone, whether this may be for something that they have done or just an aspect of their personality, is a great way to start. Alternatively, try writing a handwritten thank you note to somebody each day, but make sure that you are only sending this with sincere appreciation in mind.

Wake Up Earlier

When you first start working on implementing this habit, the earlier starts to your day will likely not immediately make you feel happy, but this is something that will develop quite quickly.

Waking up earlier will help to keep you feeling invigorated and energized throughout the day. It also gives you extra time in your day, which can help with productivity, which also then results in happiness. 

Woman stretching in bed, waking up

To top it all off…

Early starts mean that you are likely to start going to bed earlier, and will be able to maintain a much healthier sleep routine.

Just like with changing your diet, this is not something that you need to get drastic about.

Instead, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you usually would, and give yourself a few days to a week to get used to this change. Once your body has adapted, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier again, and keep repeating this process until you have begun to naturally rise at a time that suits you.

Learn Something New

Human beings have a core need for psychological well-being, and a natural desire to learn new things and progress in life.

There are numerous studies out there that suggest that education can directly increase happiness, thanks to the way in which the mind is being challenged. 

Don’t want to go back to school?

Fortunately, you do not need to, as there are so many other ways in which you can learn new things. Here are a few ideas:

  • Arrange a skills swap with friends
  • Ask a keen gardener to teach you how to develop your green thumb
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Sign up for a free online course
  • Think of a skill or activity you would like to do, and use the power of the internet to teach it to yourself

Of course, there is no denying that learning new skills can often cause stress…

However, research suggests that while the actual learning process can sometimes feel stressful, your overall levels of happiness and satisfaction will be higher when you look back on your day and all that you have learned.

Give Yourself a Treat

Research shows that in order to be truly happy overall, you need to have plenty of small positive experiences along the way. The frequency of these experiences is actually more important than the intensity, which is why treating yourself on a daily basis can really help to boost your happiness levels.

Wondering what to treat yourself with?

Everything from breakfast in bed to purchasing gourmet coffee beans rather than instant to setting aside some time each day where you can curl up with a good book. 

Spend Money on Experiences, Rather than Material Goods

There are quite a few studies out there that show that experiential purchases, meaning spending money on experiences, makes people far happier than buying material goods.

Why?

For a few different reasons:

  • Material goods get old quickly, while experiences can be shared throughout a lifetime
  • Experiences get recalled and revisited frequently, boosting happiness
  • Experiences are much more unique in nature
  • Experiences tend to be social, and humans are social animals

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Do you remember constantly comparing yourself to other people when you were in your teenage years?

Hopefully, this is not something that you do quite as much now, since comparing yourself to others can really minimize happiness.

If you catch yourself making comparisons to others…

Turn this around and instead compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself. Think about your qualities that have improved over the years, as these are much healthier comparisons to be making.

Keep a Journal

If you have never kept a journal before, the thought of starting one can seem a little daunting…

However, a journal is a great way to help your mind to process the events that are happening in your life, building up your awareness and increasing your clarity.

Young woman writing in journal outdoors in a field

Even if you only manage to jot down a few lines a day, this can really help in the long run.

The easiest way to get started with this is by grabbing a pen and a piece of paper, but there are also journaling apps that you can download. These will send you notifications each day to remind you to write, which is always helpful when you are first trying to build a habit.

Not sure what to write about?

Just about anything will do! Start by writing down the events of the day, or even what you have eaten. You can also jot down your goals and dreams, as well as any worries or fears that you may have, as just the act of writing these down will help you to work your way through them.

Taking proactive steps to be happy means that you are much more likely to experience consistent happiness in your life, and it makes happiness more of a sure thing, rather than you just waiting and hoping for it to appear. Each of these daily habits are so easy to incorporate into your life, so have another read through the list and then pick a few that you can begin to implement right now.