9 ways running benefits your body from head to toe

Getty Images

Cartilage growth

Ignore the naysayers – running isn’t necessarily bad for your knees. Research from Australia’s Monash University suggests that the impact of running can increase cartilage production, which can safeguard your joints against arthritis.

Sharper hearing

Research from Bellarmine University in the US found that very fit women were six per cent more likely to have better hearing than less fit women. Exercise improves circulation to the ear, which provides a greater supply of nutrients to help preserve hearing.

Healthier skin cells

Rutgers University researchers in the US found that mice that drank caffeinated water and then ran had fewer skin cancer tumours than rodents who either just got caffeine or just ran. The caffeine-exercise combo caused fewer damaged cells to develop.

Fewer migraines

Put down the painkillers. A study conducted at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that migraine-sufferers experienced fewer head-pounders when they worked out for 40 minutes three times a week over three months.

Regenerated muscle

Muscle mass declines over time – or does it? University of Illinois researchers found that exercise triggers a type of stem cell (mesenchymal stem cells) to spur other cells to generate new muscle. That process could combat age-related muscle loss.

Less anxiety

Feeling panicky about an upcoming work presentation? Go for a run. Researchers from Southern Methodist University near Dallas found that people had significantly milder reactions to stress if they engaged in regular intense aerobic exercise.

Lower risk of cancer

Finnish researchers studied 2,560 middle-aged men over 17 years and found that the most active men were the least likely to die from cancer, especially in the gastrointestinal tract or lungs. The more intense the exercise, the better.

Boosted brainpower

To see how exercise stacks up against other mental stimulants, University of Illinois researchers exposed mice to three types of brain boosters: savoury foods, new toys and exercise wheels. The wheel was the only tool that improved cognitive function.

Stronger bones

Weight-bearing exercise increases bone density, which guards against fractures and osteoporosis, according to researchers from the University of Missouri, US. High-impact exercise, like running, appears to offer the greatest protective benefit.