Is Running Bad For You?

People who are hoping to get fit often have a question: “is running bad for you?”

The short version? Running is not bad for you.

But it isn’t the solution to every fitness problem, either. And it isn’t the best option for some people. Finally, it is possible to run too much if you have certain goals (or if you chronic overuse injuries tell you so).

Running is Great!

Running is actually a wonderful activity because it doesn’t require a lot of special equipment or even access to a gym. You can just throw on some shoes and head outside! Or, if weather doesn’t allow, hit up the clothes hanger… I mean treadmill in your basement.

Running is a fantastic exercise for training your cardiovascular system. You’ll also strengthen muscles and bones to a limited degree, as well. In addition, running provides many of the “extra” benefits of general movement: better mood better sleep, increased self-confidence, and so on.

Many people love to get out and run for any distance. Some like it so much that they join run clubs or start training for long races and even marathons!

So, why do some people think running is bad?

Any activity comes with some risk. We believe that the risks of fitness activities are very small in comparison to many of the significant health risks of inactivity.

Beyond that, some runners who put in a lot of miles will get “overuse injuries.” This can also happen without a proper warm up and/or cooldown. Other people have joints that just aren’t happy when pounding the pavement with less-than-good running technique (enter running shoes which is an entirely different conversation).

Finally, high-volume running can cause some muscle loss and the loss of flexibility throughout your body.

But… this doesn’t mean running is bad!

Running: One Element of Fitness

Running is fantastic for cardiovascular training, but you can get many of the benefits of running without putting in 50 miles a week.

And, running isn’t the best option for improving strength, power, flexibility, and other elements of fitness.

If your goals include improving general fitness, losing weight, and adding muscle, we’d recommend a program that balances cardiovascular training with strength training (and great nutrition, of course).

Consider this: a well-rounded program might include some workouts in which running is the only movement. But those sessions would be rare when compared to sessions that combine other elements of fitness to get you your desired results.

For example: if you want to lose weight and gain strength — you wouldn’t need to run 10 miles very often, if at all. A better workout might involve barbell deadlifts, presses, and shorter runs of 100m to 200m.

In many cases, running can be subbed out for other movements that improve cardiovascular fitness as well (in the event your body is telling you running is a “no”). How about swimming? Cycling? Rowing? All of these are great for improving your cardiovascular health without the impact on your joints.

So, Don’t Run?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t run or that running is bad. It isn’t.

What you should do, however, is consult a coach to determine if running is the right activity to get you to your personal goals. If it is, a coach can help you figure out how far, how fast, and how often you need to run. And if it’s not the perfect movement to help you reach your goals, they can also point you in the direction of the right activities to do so!

The best plan? Talk to a coach or personal trainer, lay out your goals and preferences for activity, then have them create a specific plan that gets you fired up about training and produces the results you want.

If you simply enjoy running and don’t want to stop, keep doing what you’re doing. Running is a great way to stay active. And it isn’t bad for you so long as you’re paying attention to any muscle or joint paint.

Just remember, it’s only one aspect of fitness.

And if you hate running, you needn’t worry: there are many other ways to improve your fitness without it. We know a lot of them and would be happy to make suggestions for you.

If you’d like to talk to us about your goals and how to get there, click HERE to book a free consultation.

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