The Effects of Running on the Body

Running is a popular way to stay in shape. Many enthusiasts take their running to the next level by training for marathons and other events. It is one of the easiest ways to get moving. All you need is a pair of shoes and the great outdoors. Exercise, in general, has a profound effect on your health and changes many things about your body. Losing weight is not the only benefit; it also brings about a better immunity, heart health, and boosts your metabolism. Running makes some specific changes to the body. Here is what happens to your body on a short 30-minute run.

Within Seconds

You many feel different early on in your run, especially if you are new to training. Your body knows something is going on immediately. Your muscles respond by tapping into the molecules supplied by the food you eat. This is why it is important to eat properly for an active lifestyle. Protein and complex carbohydrates are all necessary to keep your body moving. The technical name for these energy molecules is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The sudden burst of energy the second you start your run is the ATP changing into a high-energy molecule called adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Once this early burst is over, the ADP recycles back to ATP.

In Less than Two Minutes 

Your body recognizes the need for more ATP, as long as you keep moving. This triggers your cells to tear down glycogen. Glycogen is a type of glucose that remains stored in the muscles for energy use. This breakdown assists your body in freeing up more ATP. Running is also known to help with high blood sugar complications because cells often pull glucose from the blood to boost energy, as well. Your muscles begin to release lactic acid even during the first two minutes of your run. This happens as your body continue to consume more glucose. Soon, your body realizes it is under physical stress, and your muscles may begin to “burn.”

In the Next Five Minutes

Your heart doesn’t take long to realize it needs to work harder. It soon starts to beat faster and redirect blood to your muscles. When this happens, blood is pulled away from areas of your body that do not need as much blood during the run. One of the functions that may go on hold do to the redirecting of blood is digestion. Your body focusses on the task at hand. Your breathing also becomes heavy as your body realizes that the muscles need more oxygen.

The muscles in various body parts work to maintain your posture and help your feet maintain the ability to push off the ground. The gluteus maximus is the body’s largest muscle. This muscle, combined with your legs and core, help to keep your body upright and under control. They also help your hip joints to extend. Calories start to get burned at this point. A general estimate for runners is an average calorie burning of 100 per mile. Calories stored as fat also get used.

Your temperature also rises in this first 10 minutes. This is due to the constant burning of glycogen an oxygen. Your body attempts to stay cool by sending blood flow to your skin, resulting in sweat. You may also start to have that “runners glow” as you begin to flush. Your body is hard wired to keep you from overheating.

Within 10 Minutes

What happens next may depend on how good of shape you are in. Those that are just starting to work out may already feel a bit tired. Most people, however, start to feel strong at this point. As long as your body has a decent supply of ACT, your body should respond positively to the activity. This also depends on the efficient movement of oxygen and the burning of glucose and fat. If you are not in shape yet, your body may have a hard time keeping up. The ATP supply may be lacking, and your oxygen may not intake or process quickly enough. The flood of lactic acid can also leave you feeling uncomfortable. This improves, over time, as you run more often.

After the 30-Minute Mark 

After your 30-minute run, as you slow to a walk to cool down, your body starts the recovery process. Your body realizes that you do not need as much energy, and stops consuming glucose as quickly. Your breathing begins to slow down, as well. Most people feel very energetic at this time. The brain releases dopamine, improving your mood. This is why running is so good for people with anxiety and depression. Cravings for sweet foods may also dissipate temporarily.

A quick 30-minute run causes a lot of changes in your body. These are all meant to help your body keep up with the task at hand. Over time, as you run more, your body becomes more efficient at regulating your energy and oxygen use. You may not be as sore after a run, either. The health benefits of running are lasting and can help you cope with life better mentally, as well. Your diet may even need to be adjusted to accommodate more energy use if you begin to run several miles and prepare for events, such as marathons. Always add a healthy diet to a running routine, and listen to your body if you feel discomfort. The road awaits, lace up and take off!

Editor's Picks

There are very few people on this planet who enjoy their work more than Aner Banner. His friends often readily admit that Aner eats, sleeps, and breaths science 24 hours a day. He is always challenging old methods, proposing new ideas, and seeking to solve difficult problems. Aner spends most of the day imparting his wisdom to the young minds of a small elementary school. Thankfully he has also mastered the art of making science come alive for the future leaders of our nation. He is loved and well respected by students, parents, and faculty alike. His motto forever remains “never stop learning.

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