We get it… we know how hard it is to get up and get going when the year has been so uncertain. And face it, you don’t want to hear us tell you again how running is great exercise. You know that, right?
Well, we’re going to tell you again. Actually, we’re going to have a doctor tell you if you haven’t seen yours lately.
“Lack of exercise can magnify pre-existing conditions,” says Dr. Karan Shukla, a physician at Novant Health Randolph Family and Sports Medicine. Are you ready for the rundown?
“Circulatory changes — the inability to eliminate toxins from our bloodstream — leads to poor control of blood sugar and blood pressure and can cause physical changes in body composition” that lead to worsening health over time. Whew. Let’s unpack this.
Basically, lack of exercise leads to a lot of physical problems that compound themselves as you get more out of shape with each passing year. Regular running — 30 minutes, 3 times a week — can add the activity you need to avoid the downward slide.
Dr. Shukla lays it all out:
- Running allows the heart to circulate blood, and pump more efficiently
- Better circulation helps eliminate toxins from the bloodstream and provides nutrients to organs so they can work better
- Efficient oxygenation helps increase neurotransmitters in the brain — which helps us cope with stress more effectively, improves our moods, and helps us sleep
- Being well-rested, in a better mood, and better able to handle stress helps us — wait for it — stay more active
- Running also strengthens our bones and muscles so we’re stronger, won’t get as sore, and are less prone to injury, which — you got it — allows us to run more. Running outdoors also activates your Vitamin D, an important factor in bone health.
All this, and it helps us keep excess weight off, which in turn, keeps us more active, too. Or… the opposite can happen.
“When we’re physically inactive and immobile for a long period, the increase in body fat and mass can also be associated with a decrease in physical performance,” says Dr. Shukla (a nod to the “quarantine 15” some of us have experienced).
Sending that spiral in the right direction is the idea behind national running group Black Girls Run, which has a Charlotte chapter 900 women strong (and we mean STRONG!) Their website cites some strong statistics, too — like African American women are 60% more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women.
“We gear the group towards African American women because we face the health problems, the obesity, the diabetes, in great numbers,” Wendy Berry, a BGR Ambassador, told the Running Around Charlotte podcast. “But all women are welcome.”
Fellow Ambassador Kotassa Glover had been running with the group for six years when she found out she has Type II Diabetes — a real shock considering her active lifestyle.
“African Americans also have a higher rate of diabetes, and I had no idea I had a family history of diabetes,” she says. “Now our purpose is a little bigger.” The other women in the group are “accountability partners,” says Glover, and keep her consistent. A good diet and consistent running keep her blood sugar in check.
“Pre-diabetes and early diabetes are best managed through modifying diet and engaging in exercise,” Dr. Shukla agrees. Inactivity and weight gain can put you at risk of expanding “body composition,” which Dr. Shukla says “can lead to decreased efficiency for the body to use insulin which leads to higher blood sugar levels.”
Do you need more reasons than that?
Running helps you look great, feel great, and stay healthy — and science proves why. Don’t worry if you can’t go far — walk, trot, and sprint a little in every workout to get the intensity you need to burn those calories and make it work for you. Here’s to your health!