Five Ways Running Improves Your Heart Health
It’s easy for all of the bells and whistles of the gym to hinder people from exercising. Pricey memberships, crowded weight rooms, intimidating equipment and the time it takes to get to and from the gym are all common reasons people neglect to make exercise a priority. Thankfully, there is a well-known, yet underutilized exercise that doesn’t break the bank or require a gym—running.
“Running is an exercise that I always squeeze into my busy schedule because I know it gives me lasting cardiac health benefits,” says Bronson cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Alphonse DeLucia.
Here are some ways running on a regular basis can significantly improve your heart health:
- Running lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. “Running 30 minutes a few times per week helps reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” type of cholesterol and increases the high density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” type of cholesterol,” explains Dr. DeLucia. “High blood pressure also becomes normalized through consistent physical activity.”
- Running helps you maintain a healthy weight. Those who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk for heart disease. Running is a highly effective exercise for those who need to shed a few extra pounds. Don’t know where or how to start? Ease into running by joining Gazelle’s “Finish a 5k” summer training program. Setting a goal, like finishing a 5k, will help keep your running schedule on track. This fun and supportive group will help coach and prepare you for Bronson Children’s Hospital 5k Run & Walk or Blueberry Festival Run/Walk.
- Running strengthens your heart muscle. “Think of it this way— the more you do bicep curls, the bigger and stronger your biceps will be,” says Dr. DeLucia. “The same thing happens when you work out your heart, which is the most important muscle in your body. Overtime, running strengthens the walls of the heart, which increases its overall efficiency.”
- Running minimizes your heart’s workload. Because runners have stronger hearts, they typically have a lower resting pulse rate and intake a higher amount of oxygen. As a result, the organ can handle pumping a larger amount of blood per beat, which helps the heart perform its job with ease.
- Running reduces your risk for heart disease. “Those who start running on a regular basis decrease their risk for heart disease by 35 to 55 percent,” says Dr. DeLucia. “Running helps prevent blood clots in the arteries and blood vessels. It also supports healthy blood flow, blood pressure and cholesterol. As always, it’s important to schedule a physical and consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.”
Whether you prefer the environment of an athletic club or wellness center, the comfort of your home or the great outdoors, there are many locations compatible for running. Plus, the only pieces of equipment you need are yourself, a pair of athletic shoes and some motivational tunes.
Now that you know some benefits of running, get out and start training for the Bronson Children's Hospital Run & Walk in Kalamazoo, scheduled for Sunday, September 24, or the Blueberry Festival 5K/10K in South Haven, scheduled for Saturday, August 12.
To register for the Bronson Children's Hospital 5K, benefiting southwest Michigan's only children's hospital, visit bronsonhealth.com/runwalk.
To register for the Blueberry Festival 5K/10K, benefiting the Bronson Health Foundation, visit blueberryfestival.com.
Can’t run due to an injury or a health-related issue? Walking offers many of the same benefits as running. Read this article to learn how you can walk your way to a healthier lifestyle and better heart health.
The Bronson Heart & Vascular team is committed to heart and vascular disease prevention, and sharing easy steps you can take to live a healthier life. Looking for a Bronson doctor to help you? For a complete list of providers at Bronson, visit bronsonhealth.com/find-a-doctor or call Bronson HealthAnswers at (269) 341-7723.