5 Wondrous Ways Running Improves Your Health

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By Pam Masin

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Running can do real wonders for your health, especially if you have the right gear.

1. Better Knees
Think running wears out your knees? Think again. One recent study found that it may actually help prevent knee osteoarthritis, a condition that affects roughly 9.2 million adults; another discovered that road warriors were up to 18 percent less likely than walkers to develop the condition, in part because running may increase the thickness of knee cartilage.

2. Less Stress
When it comes to the mood-boosting effects of running, science suggests you can get more than just an endorphin high. According to a lab study in The Journal of Neuroscience, running may reduce anxiety by triggering neurons that mute your response to stress.

3. Lower Breast Cancer Risk
A 2013 study of more than 70,000 women revealed that those who walked at least seven hours per week were 14 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than their more sedentary counterparts. The most active women, who worked out vigorously (running or swimming) for at least six hours a week, slashed their risk by 25 percent.

4. Sharper Mind
Good news: You don’t have to slog away for a long time to reap impressive benefits. One small study found that people who engaged in light activity — like walking on a treadmill for an hour — three times a week saw gains in memory after just three months, suggesting that short-term fitness may slow age-related cognitive decline.

5. Longer Life
In a 2014 study of more than 55,000 people, those who ran daily — even for just five to ten minutes — lived, on average, three years longer than those who didn’t run. Worth noting: Runners who logged longer workouts didn’t significantly decrease their risk of death from heart disease more than those who ran less. Who doesn’t have five minutes? Get going!

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