Many of us know that to regular exercise is necessary to maintain good health. Yet, a majority of us find it way too easy to make excuses about being too busy, or tired, or plain unmotivated. As the saying goes, if you are too busy to take care of your health, you better make time to fall sick. If you’re too tired to exercise, know that a little bit of physical activity can actually boost your energy levels. And if it’s motivation you’re looking for, the following are some excellent reasons for you to lace up and go out for a run!

Maintains Healthy Weight

It’s no surprise that running is one of the most common activities picked up by people attempting to lose weight. Across the board, runners tend to have lower body mass index (BMI) scores as compared to the general public. A healthy BMI is defined as 18.5 to 24.9. Of course, weight is not the sole indicator of good health, and preserving muscle mass is crucial – especially with age – which is why more importantly, running also helps to lower your body fat percentage.

Furthermore, running improves your insulin sensitivity, and lowers blood sugar levels, which helps prevent diabetes.

Boosts Cardiac Health

Cartoon of exercising heart

Did you know heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Singapore, and that 15 Singaporeans die from heart disease every single day? There are certain risk factors beyond your control, such as:

  • Age: risks increase as you get older
  • Gender: men in general, but also post-menopausal women with less estrogen
  • Ethnicity: Malays are twice as likely to suffer than Chinese, and South Asians three times as likely
  • Genetics: anyone in your immediate family suffering from heart disease means you’ve got a predisposition.

Don’t panic, you’re not doomed; modifiable risk factors include:

  • Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Preventing obesity and diabetes (see above)
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Lowering LDL cholesterol
  • Lowering triglycerides

Running can help you tick off the last five points, and if you want to improve as a runner, it’s best to put down those cigarettes and maybe stop at two beers. Avoid being a statistic – aim for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, to help prevent heart disease.

Prevents Certain Cancers

The leading cause of death in Singapore is cancer. For men, the top three are colorectal, lung and prostate cancers while for women, they are breast, colorectal and lung cancers. The biggest kicker is the fact that research has shown that the following types of cancer are preventable with regular physical exercise: endometrial, colorectal, prostate, breast, lung, ovarian and gastric.

Cancer is a painful disease, one that causes suffering among friends and families as it does its victims. Consider your next run as an investment in your health, and the happiness of your loved ones.

Improves Mood

One of the most frequently cited reasons for running is “to clear my head” after a long day at school or in the office, or to “mentally prepare me for the day ahead”. Running is a great sport for stress management, and studies have shown that like most sports, it also helps combat depression. Crucially, teenagers who run demonstrate a healthier sense of self-esteem, helping them better deal with an otherwise sensitive period of development in their lives.

runner with dog 2

Other Benefits

Struggling with insomnia? Regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster, and improves the quality of your sleep. Being well-rested is crucial in decision-making, supporting a healthy metabolism, and maintaining overall good health.

You don’t need to be running marathons on a monthly basis to be healthy – on the contrary! While prolonged high intensity training can lead to a compromised immune system, light to moderate training runs does the opposite, boosting your immunity to fight viral and bacterial infections.

Best news for last: running slows aging. Researchers at the University of Colorado and Humboldt State University discovered late last year that thanks to a greater number of mitochondria in muscle cells and better coordination, 70-year-old runners have the same walking efficiency as a sedentary 20-year-old.

Your body is a temple, so treat it like one. There is no price tag for good health, so Just Run Lah!