The Science of Running

With the running season truly upon us, and several Jumpstarters taking part in a charity 5K in May, we consider the science behind running, and what us humans gain from it (apart from the blisters!).

25 April 2018

Man tying jogging shoes.He is running outdoors on a sunny day.

With the running season truly upon us, and several Jumpstarters taking part in a charity 5K in May, we consider the science behind running, and what us humans gain from it (apart from the blisters!).

We can only run (and walk for that matter) due to the forces acting on our bodies. Gravity pulls us to the ground with Newton’s Third Law accounting for the equal and opposite upwards force going from the ground into our legs; propulsion from our muscles accelerates us forward; and drag force from the air slows us down. Gravity can be used to the runner’s advantage by leaning forward to allow the body’s weight force to pull downward, easing the work done by the legs. In addition, the limbs act as pendulums and help to stabilise the body – keeping the arms bent make them easier to swing. As a new runner, your body gets used to the new movement, with muscles tearing and rebuilding in a controlled manner to strengthen them for the next time.

The scientific benefits of running are manifold. It’s been proven to instantly boost your mood and wellbeing, triggering receptor sites not only of the well-known endorphins but of endocannabinoids, according to a recent study . It was suggested that, in a study of mice, running increased endocannabinoid release, reducing anxiety and sensation of pain in mice, manifesting as the legendary “runner’s high”. In addition, running, as well as other forms of fitness that use large muscle groups, is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. However, its not always easy to achieve significant weight loss as the body has a surprising capability of altering its metabolic rate to prevent starvation and indefinite weight loss . Processes occur that resist the intended energy deficit, meaning that despite a possible initial weight loss, the body’s metabolism adapts to suit the new running regime and the weight loss may likely plateau. It’s been identified that high-intensity interval training can stimulate the metabolic rate and hence re-trigger the weight loss , making interval running a lot more common amongst fitness enthusiasts.

As we continue (or start!) training here at Jumpstart HQ, all we’re hoping for on 12th May is that forces align to give us that extra push we all need towards the finish line, where we can then enjoy a well-earned rest and the positive effects of the released feel-good chemicals!

Find out more about our charity run click here