New Study Reveals That Any Amount of Running is Better than No Running At All

When it comes to maintaining healthy body composition and reduced visceral fat, even 10 kilometers a week has a life altering effect, researchers discovered

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In the online world of internet gurus, it’s easy to be swept away by false promises, each offering the “newest and best” revolutionary hacks, quick fixes, and hidden secrets.

This problem is even more pervasive when it comes to weight loss and body composition. What we read, watch, and listen to wields significant power, shaping societal perceptions of health, beauty, and fitness.

By focusing on people’s insecurities, some influencers promise quick-fix weight loss programs that, in reality, may be neither sustainable nor beneficial. Unrealistic expectations are set, and the results rarely match, creating a cycle of disappointment and self-blame.

But, as with most things in life, the answer might lie in something more simple. In this case, regular recreational running.

Over the decades, running has become a global phenomenon embraced by tens of millions. Its popularity is grounded in its holistic benefits, positively impacting body composition, cardiovascular health, metabolic health, musculoskeletal integrity, and mental well-being.

Running is a timeless and proven approach that stands resilient against the fleeting trends of the digital world.

The slew of benefits offered by running has been highlighted in a recent study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, which looked at “The effect of regular running on body weight and fat tissue of individuals aged 18 to 65.”

The study involved 1,296 participants, encompassing both men (691) and women (605), divided into five age groups. Runners were defined as those covering a minimum of 10 kilometers a week, while inactive individuals did not meet the WHO 2020 physical activity recommendations.

The team, headed by Petr Kutac at the University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic, measured body mass (BM), body fat (BF), and visceral fat (VF), which is found surrounding the organs and is not easily detected without a scan.

They found that regular recreational running yields significant benefits across diverse age groups. Runners consistently exhibit lower body mass and body mass index, reduced body fat, and lower visceral fat levels.

Recreational running, even at a minimum volume of 10 km/week, led to significant improvements in body composition.

Body Mass, Visceral Fat and aging: 3 Key Insights from the Study

The study was part of a larger body of work referred to as the 4HAIE program, which examined the impact of air pollution on health and aging in the Czech Republic.

Participants were categorized by location, age, gender, and physical activity, with 60% of participants making up the ‘active’ population and 40% the ‘inactive’. Measurements, including body composition and physical activity assessment, were conducted under standardized conditions.

The selected runners, committed to a minimum of 10 kilometers of running per week, although average running volume ranged from 21.6 to 31.4 kilometers per week.

While the study has limitations, such as its cross-sectional nature and deliberate participant selection, it does a great job at underscoring that recreational running significantly improves body composition values.

So, what are the effects of regular running on body composition?

#1: Significant Reductions In Body Mass And Body Mass Index

The study’s examination of body mass and body mass index (BMI) revealed consistent patterns among regular runners. These active individuals consistently displayed lower values of BM and BMI compared to their inactive counterparts.

In a society where issues related to obesity are on the rise, the negative correlation observed between regular running and body mass index becomes particularly relevant.

Notably, active runners, both male and female, displayed better weight status in all age categories compared to their inactive counterparts. The study revealed a higher proportion of runners maintaining a normal weight and a lower incidence of obesity.

It suggests that incorporating running into your routine can be an effective strategy for weight management, potentially reducing the risk of associated health complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders.

It should be noted that the study also identified exceptions in insignificant differences in BM and BMI within certain age and gender categories, suggesting that in some cases there is a more nuanced relationship with running and BMI.

These exceptions, however, do not diminish the overall trend, which unmistakably points towards a positive correlation between regular running and healthier body mass indices.

New Study Reveals That Any Amount of Running is Better than No Running At All 1

#2: Reduction in Body Fat and Visceral Fat

The study found clear-cut data on both body fat and visceral fat, with participants demonstrating consistently lower values of body fat and visceral fat across all age categories compared to inactive participants.

Unlike subcutaneous fat, which accumulates under the skin, visceral fat is stored around internal organs in the abdominal cavity. Lower levels of visceral fat, notorious for its association with increased risk of chronic diseases, were particularly notable among regular runners.

#3: Aging With Ease

Wondering how to stay spry and independent as the years go by? Well this study certainly offers some answers.

Regular running is the modern human’s fountain of youth. It plays a pivotal role in preserving mobility, cognitive function, and overall well-being as we age, it also mitigates muscle loss and helps to reduce excess body fat.

As we age, muscles tend to take a hit, especially if we’re not active. The study found that muscle loss can kick in as early as 30 for inactive individuals. But if you’re a regular runner, you’re in luck. Running helps keep those muscles intact, acting as a solid defense against issues like sarcopenia (muscle loss).

Translation? You get to keep doing the things you love without losing your independence.

Now, let’s look at the changes in body composition, the balance between fat and muscle, as we age. Aging often brings more fat and less muscle, not a combination that most people are a fan of. But running steps in, keeping that balance in check. Reducing fat and increasing muscle not only contributes to aesthetic changes but also provides a protective shield against health issues associated with excess weight, such as diabetes and heart problems.

But here’s the real game-changer: running isn’t just about your body; it’s about how you feel. The so-called “fountain of youth” isn’t just a metaphor.

A previous publication in the Journal of Aging Research found that regular running can lead to a 30-35% reduction in all cause mortality.

Running isn’t just about adding more years; it’s about adding more awesome, healthy years.

Is running the answer?

This study provides a compelling argument for running, suggesting that even a modest commitment to regular running can yield significant improvements in body composition and overall health.

It’s a call to action for those seeking a practical, accessible means to enhance their well-being.

Running, with its myriad benefits, is an invitation rather than an obligation—a path worth exploring for those who find joy out on the trails.

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Ben is a qualified Personal Trainer and Sports Massage Therapist with a particular interest in running performance and injury. He has spent the last 9 years working with runners at his clinic in Brighton. Ben is a keen runner and avid cyclist. Evenly splitting his time between trail running, road biking, and MTB.

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