February is American Heart Month, and what better way to celebrate than by talking about the amazing benefits that running can have on your cardiovascular health? Running has long been known to be a great way to stay fit and healthy, but running can do wonders for your heart health. Here are four surprising ways that running strengthens your heart and keeps it healthy.
Add Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years
While there’s no such thing as a fountain of youth, running is about as close as you can get. Studies like this one from Harvard Health have shown that runners can live longer than non-runners due to a “45% reduced risk of death from heart attacks and strokes, as well as a 30% reduced risk of death from anything. And, thanks to the endorphins released during a run, science also tells us that runners experience more joy in those extra years of life. Runners enjoy an improved quality of life due to increased energy levels, fewer sick days, and greater emotional well-being. So, not only does running add years to your life — it adds life to your years!
A Healthy Dose of Oxygenated Blood
When you run, oxygenated blood circulates throughout your body at an accelerated rate. This helps strengthen your heart muscles while decreasing stress levels and improving overall cardiovascular health. The increased oxygenation also helps decrease the risk of developing certain types of cancer, as well as other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. When it comes to keeping your heart healthy, running is like taking a multivitamin for your cardiovascular system!
Keep Your Cholesterol Levels in Check
Cholesterol is a natural fat that our bodies need in order to function properly, but too much cholesterol can lead to serious health complications such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Fortunately, regular aerobic exercise such as running has been shown to reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol (HDL). So if you want to help keep those cholesterol levels in check — lace up and hit the pavement!
Lower Blood Pressure & Reduce Stress Levels
You probably already know that running can help reduce stress levels, but did you know it also helps lower blood pressure? High blood pressure puts strain on your arteries, which increases your risk of having a stroke or a heart attack, so maintaining healthy blood pressure is key for optimal heart health. Running stimulates hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which will naturally reduce stress levels — so why not take advantage of this bonus side effect?
Well, there you have it! Keep these heart benefits in mind throughout American Heart Month — and beyond — as you focus on improving and maintaining your cardiovascular health through running. With that in mind, whether you’re an avid runner or just starting out, taking part in this year’s Platte River Half Marathon & Relay can be a great way to boost your heart health! Register today to secure your spot for race day, and Happy Heart Month from your friends at the Platte River Half Marathon & Relay!