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When it comes to running, there seem to be two camps – people who love it and crave the “runner’s high,” and those who view running as boring, painful torture that only crazy people do.

While neither extreme is necessarily “right,” running benefits are plenty. And you don’t have to be a sprinter or a marathoner to enjoy them; most of us who trudge along diligently still can experience these perks. You don’t need to enter races, or run with a group or talk about your PRs or favorite long-distance snack. You simply have to get out there and jog or run.

What’s in it for you? Plenty.

  1. Calorie burn: Running burns calories big-time, which helps you to maintain or lose weight. If you’re super-motivated, adding intervals or hills or sprints blasts even more calories.
  2. Higher metabolism: Not only do you burn calories during your workout, but after exercise, your metabolism stays elevated for hours, which is a nice bonus.
  3. Stronger bones and joints: Weight-bearing activities like running increase your bone mass and stem bone loss for a stable, strong skeleton!
  4. Better mental health: Regular exercise like running helps guard against and treat stress, depression and anxiety, and many runners who hit the pavement alone credit the valuable thinking time.
  5. Reduced risk of disease: Research shows that running can boost your immune system, improve your blood profiles and lower your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  6. Greater energy and improved sleep: Totally what most of us need today. Enough said. 

Running can be done outside, on a treadmill or track, in the pool, or even simulated on an elliptical. Ellipticals with adjustable stride length – like those from Octane Fitness – enable you to change your stride along with your pace to replicate the running motion without the impact. In fact, Octane’s SmartStride will automatically adjust the stride length to match your speed. This proves to be a wonderful way to cross train and give your bones and joints a break from the toll running takes.

If you’ve never run before, or you haven’t in years, training on an elliptical is one way to begin. Then when you’re ready to really run, start slowly and alternate short periods of jogging with walking. Gradually you’ll be able to lengthen the running segments and shorten the walking intervals. Be sure to hydrate and stretch after your workout as well to minimize stiffness.

Get going an enjoy the numerous running benefits. All it takes is one step at a time!