What Are the Health Benefits of Running Half Marathons?
Running a half marathon has many health benefits for athletes who are just starting out as well as for those who are veteran runners. The half marathon is a good running distance for both the mind and the body. The distance is not too long to take over your whole schedule or drain your energy, but still provides the benefits of calorie busting, fitness building, and mental strength.
The cardiovascular system is greatly improved by training for the half marathon. Training for a half marathon requires gradual building of mileage and speed, prolonged running and commitment to fitness. The increased mileage and speed are particularly helpful for improving cardiovascular health. Constantly improving fitness will improve the body’s ability to take on greater mileage, lower blood pressure, and improve overall heart health.
The cardiovascular system carries oxygenated blood throughout the body. When it is being worked at a regular rate, overall health improves. The arterial system in the body can become clogged from stored fat, lack of exercise and a variety of other unhealthy habits. These are worked and fine-tuned during training runs. The training runs required for a half marathon push the body to the perfect limits for maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
As the cardiovascular system is improving, calories are being burned during the training required for a half marathon. The distance of 13.1 miles is not one that should be undertaken without preparation – it requires at least 8 weeks of training once a strong base is established. This will definitely burn calories and improve muscle tone.
The half marathon is a great distance to push yourself physically for a faster time. If you drop a few pounds during training, you will be able to run an even faster time during the race. Although training for a race is not ideally designed for weight loss, it is a great way to take on losing a few pounds which will no doubt improve your speed and performance.
Mental health benefits abound from the half marathon. This distance is short enough to ensure success and long enough to keep you strong. It is a challenging run with plenty of bragging rights, but it is also not enough to nearly kill you. Race success can do a lot for your mental preparation for other races. It is an excellent stress reducer as well. The studies which prove that exercise has a profound effect upon improving mental health are endless, and the half marathon is no exception to this proven formula.
I can personally attest to this theory; I ran 6 half marathons the same year I wrote my college thesis. While I was interviewing prison inmates, writing about them and having my thesis constantly examined and questioned by college professors, the miles I spent on the road gave me the boost I needed.
Consider the half marathon for your next race, and see how these health benefits manifest in your own life and body. It is extremely helpful to take on the distance once you have an established running base and plan for attack. Be careful though, they are addicting races.