Don’t skip on running season

(Photo by Heather Davidson)
(Photo by Heather Davidson)

When I blew out my knee just before university, I thought my running days were over.

An injury from soccer led to an arthroscopic knee surgery to remove the torn cartilage and examine my ACL and MCL for damage. I went from running nearly every day of my life to not knowing if I was ever going to run again.

However, when I was in rehab after surgery, the first exercise my surgeon told me to do once I felt strong enough was to try running. Thinking that he was crazy, I started to examine why running actually helps you.

Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise; your muscles consume oxygen and push you harder while improving your aerobic fitness. Running outside is my favourite because you control your own pace and what you want to achieve by the end of your run. Your route is not always predetermined and your legs can feel what you put them through rather than relying on a treadmill. Running is also one of the best forms of exercise in terms of burning calories.

By running on “high” on the treadmill, you burn almost 800 calories in an hour according to the Medical College of Wisconsin. The stair-stepper, rower and stationary bike don’t burn nearly as many calories as just running.

I first got into running just after I was diagnosed with anxiety. My stress levels were high and I needed an outlet to keep myself calm while taking care of my daily activities. It gives you a chance to escape from stress and pressure and run to the speed of your problems. Running makes you focus on a goal without any added pressure — you just need to move your feet.

My surgeon recommended running as a form of rehabilitation because it is beneficial to your knee joints. I am at risk of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, but by running, I can rebuild the joint-cushioning cartilage I tore and strengthen my knee joints.

Contrary to myths, running helps build your joints. By simply running a few times a week for half an hour, you can strengthen the ligaments around your joints and keep them moving to avoid bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

The health benefits of running certainly outweigh the benefits of sitting on the couch; regular running allows your body to create enzymes that strengthen the parts of your body susceptible to cancer, such as the colon, breasts and lungs. A British study showed that active people were 24 per cent less likely to develop colon cancer than those who are the “least active.” In addition, running can also give women a 30 per cent lower risk of breast cancer.

I could go on all day talking about the benefits of such a simple exercise, but the truth is that running can help your overall outlook on life. I’m just a student, but from personal experience through using running as a rehab tool, I’ve reaped the benefits it has to offer and encourage everyone to do the same.

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