Spring is just around the corner, and soon people will be flocking to the streets, with their lycra-spandex running tights and reflective jackets. People love to run, and it’s long been the go-to activity for getting back into shape. But in spite of its popularity, running may not be as good for you as you think.
Why People Run...
Though humans have been running for ages, recreational jogging only really rose to popularity in the 1960s, just as processed foods and obesity were becoming a thing. Ever since then, it’s been the most common activity for people looking to get into shape. People run to lose weight, maintain heart health, and improve their overall fitness. The only trouble is that running just isn’t that effective.
...And Why You Shouldn't
There are a lot of people who run. If you’ve ever stepped into a commercial gym, you’ll notice that half of the people in there are tied to a treadmill. But how many of those people are in really good shape? The numbers just don’t add up.
According to a 2007 study, up to 79% of runners are sidelined due to injury, every year. Our bodies simply aren’t designed for the repetitive and prolonged stress that running puts on our joints. With every step you take, you force the weight of your entire body onto your knees and ankles. And you do this thousands of times every week. The damage is magnified if you don’t use proper footwear or form.
Though it’s known for its fat loss benefits, running is an aerobic activity, and as such really only helps you burn calories during exercise. The treadmill counts your calories, but the tracking stops as soon as you step off, and so do the metabolic benefits. The best way to build a high-functioning metabolism is by increasing your body’s overall muscle mass.
If your goals lean towards a strong and muscular(ish) physique, running probably isn’t the best way to get to your destination. Your body adapts to the stresses it experiences. Because running doesn’t involve much muscle resistance, it doesn’t force your body to adapt and get stronger. If running is your only source of exercise, your body will shed muscle in an attempt to make the activity more efficient. If you don’t believe me, google marathon runners and see for yourself.
Instead of running, consider trying some of these activities, next time you’re hunting for your cardio fix.
High-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) involves short bursts of activity, at close to top speed. Think circuits of 10-15 second sprints, followed by 45 seconds of rest. It’s a great way to get your heart and lungs engaged while still challenging your muscles.
Circuit-Style Weight Training
Another way to squeeze in some cardio is by reducing your rest period between strength-training sets. Consider exploring circuit-style training, by incorporating supersets and 10-second transitions between exercises.
If you’re dead-set on running, think about reducing your training frequency to only a couple times per week, to help mitigate your risk of injury. You can always mix in lower impact activities like rowing, cycling, or the elliptical.
No matter how you decide to incorporate cardio activity in your fitness routine, make sure you’re recovering properly. It’s important that you consume a sufficient amount of protein to maintain your muscle mass, especially if you’re eating a bit less and trying to lose weight. Scoop up some Suppy protein for a boost on the run.