There are many well-known facts about why running is good for human beings. From heart health to muscle tone, mental health and full body strength, these benefits we can feel when we run regularly. Chances are, we already can feel them. So many benefits of running in nature.
The physiological benefits of running outside are often the most overlooked but interesting aspect of hitting our local trails.
PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF RUNNING OUTSIDE
1. Manage stress
Stress often has a bad reputation for obvious reasons, stress actually plays a vital role in helping us grow and evolve as humans and also helps us to accomplish the goals and responsibilities we set for ourselves, as long as we don't overtrain and always run too intensely. Chronic stress, or too much stress, is bad for us, but voluntary, manageable stress has actually been found to have quick and lasting effects, both mentally and physically.
Manageable stress increases alertness and performance. And by encouraging the growth of stem cells that become brain cells, stress improves memory. The increase in stem cells and neuron generation makes sense from an adaptive point of view.
BENEFITS OF RUNNING OUTSIDE AND IN NATURE
Running is voluntary stress for both the mind and body. The more we get out for our runs, the more we work to increase our strength, stamina, discipline, and stress response. Running outside gives us added variability and keeps us mentally strong and adaptable to our environment.
Also, choosing to run in weather that is less than ideal keeps us mentally and physically flexible to these changes in the environment. Next time it's cold and raining, or on the other side, hot, humid and sunny, we should tap our motivation muscle and get out the door.
Just remember to gear up appropriately according to the weather, and stay hydrated.
Running in a the cold weather and intense cold wind can affect our running pace as well as the heat of the summer. To get ready and get out the door in the cold can be stressful, but once we’re outside and in nature, we start feeling better, more positive and physically stronger. It also activates our body and brain for the rest of the day.
2. Enjoy Moments Of Wonder
Much like the sighting of a cardinal, there are many things we experience when running outside that make us feel good. Flowers blooming along a trail, a misty waterfall, a beautiful bird swooping down, a big animal standing up ahead on the trail.
This idea can be referred to as wonder. Wonder is often reserved for big moments like seeing a huge double rainbow across the sky. There are many opportunities for these moments while we’re out on a run in nature. These moments are also scientifically beneficial for humans.
PHYSICAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF RUNNING OUTSIDE
3. Absorb Some VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is one of our body's most critical nutrient needs, helping us in multitude ways from bone density to immune health.
One of the best ways to get our vitamin D levels up is direct sunlight absorbed through our skin. When we’re out running and the sun is shining, we should just think of nature giving us good vitamins and supplements provides a life-sustaining nutrient.
4. Enhance Your Overall Fitness
Running outside or in nature creates more resilience and strength. Running outside offers more diversity of terrain and stimulus from jumping over cracks and puddles, turning the corner, running up and down hills or stairs, avoiding roots in the trail, and more.
Our core is more engaged when we're turning a corner or on a trail, our quads are more engaged when we’re running downhill, and our calves are more engaged when jumping over a curb or running uphill. Running on a treadmill (still a great physical workout) limits the number of muscles we engage relative to running outside. The stronger our entire body is, the more resilient and more efficient it becomes. The more we hop down the trail avoiding roots or rocks, the more you develop a better sense of balance.
5. Improve Your Knee And Back Health
Many runners have likely been told that your knees are going to be shot by the time you're 50 years old. According to a research, comparing 675 runners concluded that the arthritis rate of marathon runners was well below that of the average non-runners 50+ years old. When running on trails outside, the softer surface is more gentle on our knees, hips, and back than concrete or a treadmill.
6. Increase Your Lifespan
According to some research, running participation is associated with 27%, 30%, and 23% lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality, respectively, compared with no running. That is a big difference and a seriously good reason to get outside and run a few times every week.
MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF RUNNING OUTSIDE
7. Decrease Depression
We should appreciate that running helps fight depression. This probably doesn't come as a surprise to most people, but running helps to keep our stress and anxiety balanced and release depression. Running outside adds another layer of mental health. When running outside, we're breathing in fresh air, running as the sun is rising or setting, maybe feeling the wind at your back or the chill of an early morning.
As humans, we have evolved over a long time in a nice relationship with nature. It likely just feels well, natural and refreshing. Running outside allows us to explore new areas and new trails and see, hear, smell, and feel new things. We're likely passing nice runners and maybe even smiling. Running with other people, especially while in nature, we should appreciate that it has much deeper-reaching mental and physical benefits.
8. Take A Break From Technostress
We all need a break from work, social media, and screen time. More and more studies are coming out that prove the negative mental, physical, and emotional health effects of too much screen time. Spending too much time staring at our phone or computer was found to have a multitude of negative health impacts, including ADHD, depression, lack of sleep, and anxiety. If setting our phone down for an hour and breathing in fresh air isn't quite enough, lacing up our favourite TRAIL shoes, moving our body through the woods in nature, and working up a sweat can certainly help melt away the stress of the day.
RECONNECT WITH NATURE
Most people will enjoy running outside. In general, as humans we do not get nearly enough time outside as we used to. From time spent at work, sleeping indoors, working at home, or watching TV, we're not as connected with nature as we should be to feel better and healthier. Lacing up and getting out the door to feel the sun on our skin, or fresh air to seek out those moments of wonder, to feel a sense of accomplishment from doing a full trail loop, to simply breathe in some fresh air, there's nothing as efficient and enjoyable.
Run Outside In Beautiful Nature Or Trail, Feel Better Mentally And Physically, And Enjoy Every Run!