The science behind what happens to your body when you run every day

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I hate running. If you know me well, you know the only time you’ll catch me in a sprint is if I’m about to miss a train or if an insect is chasing me.

But I know running has its benefits – studies show that just 5-10 minutes of running every day has been found to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke, and can even lower your risk of developing certain cancers. 

It’s also an exercise you can do just about anywhere for free – no equipment needed. So after decades of avoiding running as my workout of choice, I finally decided to start running every day. Here are a few things that I noticed during my week as a new runner.

1. You’ll learn that chafing is real

After running every day for a week, I’ve learned why runners invest in actual running gear.

Running in pants or shorts that aren’t made to withstand and support the friction between your legs when you run will leave your inner thighs painfully chafed.

2. You’ll experience leg twitches

Around day 3 of running every morning, I started to notice my legs would randomly twitch while I was lying still in bed.

After doing some research, I found that this could be due to the loss of calcium and sodium that leaves your body in the form of sweat when you run.

I started paying more attention to my calcium and sodium intake and made sure to fuel up on both after a run to prevent this.

3. Your mood will improve

Running improves your mood and makes you feel happier by boosting your serotonin levels – the chemical in your body responsible for mood regulation.

For me, running each morning gave me a feeling of accomplishment. Having this feeling at the start of my day helped me keep a positive mindset even if other parts of my day ended up being out of whack.

4. You’ll sleep better

Research shows that 30 minutes per day of moderate running can improve sleep quality and better concentration.

By the end of my week running every day, I noticed that not only was I able to fall asleep more quickly but that my sleep wasn’t as restless as it had been when I hadn’t taken up running as a habit. 

5. Your feet will hurt

This was another rookie move on my part. I didn’t have the proper running shoes for the first few days of my experiment – and my feet paid for it in the form of blisters.

If you’re planning to adopt a running routine, opt for a pair of sneakers designed with running support. Also, make sure you’re not lacing your sneakers up too tight or too loose – ideally, you want to feel like your feet are supported but not overly restricted. 

6. You’ll feel less stressed

Starting my morning with a run improved my stress response tremendously – and as it turns out, there’s science behind why it helps.

Regular exercise increases norepinephrine concentration in our bodies, a chemical that’s responsible for our brain’s reaction to stress. 

7. You’ll crave healthier foods

Toward the end of my week of running every day, I found myself craving healthier food – mostly fruits and vegetables.

This makes sense since running requires hydration; this is your body’s natural response to let you know what it needs more.

8. Your body will feel stronger

By the end of my first week of running every day, I noticed that my lower muscles and even my core felt stronger.

Running activates your core muscles, quads, glutes and hip flexors, so don’t be surprised if you notice an improvement in these areas after starting your running routine.