Heading off-road is not just about admiring the beautiful scenery, you know. When it comes to toning and weight loss, there’s nothing better, as Jeff Archer explains…
If you’re keen to lose weight, tone up and improve your fitness, but you don’t want to spend ages waiting for results, look no further than trail running. Getting off the beaten track will take your running to a whole new level and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you experience changes in your body. Here are 12 reasons why trail running is so effective at getting you in shape…
Trail running involves a lot of changes of terrain, which will work you harder than running on the road or treadmill. It includes undulating terrain as the trail follows the natural landscape, but also lumps and bumps underfoot, meaning your entire body gets a great workout while trying to keep you upright and moving forwards. While treadmill or road running will strengthen many major muscles around your body, trail running will also maximise the use of minor and stabilising muscles, making it a more effective and complete workout.
Regular trail running using different routes will challenge your body in new ways and keep your fitness improving quickly. Not only will different trails provide new challenges, but also the same trails in different weather conditions will require different levels of effort and this will keep your fitness progressing fast.
Trail running offers you access to some amazing scenery, which can provide its own motivation to keep running when another few kilometres or even another few minutes on a treadmill would seem like a daunting prospect and see you reaching for the off button.
Trail running gets you out into the fresh air, away from sweaty gyms and polluted streets. Simply breathing unpolluted oxygen can work wonders for your body and your spirit. Combine this with some natural light, an increase in serotonin, which can help reduce depression and regulate biological rhythms, and a boost of vitamin D levels, which will help you absorb calcium and phosphorous to build strong bones, and you have a simple recipe for feeling great.
Trail running enables you to explore the environment around you and, for most of us who spend each day in the relatively confined environments of our homes and offices, a run in the great outdoors where everything is calm around you can do wonders for helping you wind down quickly, effectively and completely.
While running on a treadmill can become monotonous and running through the streets can be frustrating, as you dodge crowds and cross roads, trail running is a great way to illicit a sense of freedom, independence and will immediately clear your head and de-stress you.
Trails are usually less severe to run on than tarmac, so trail running reduces your risk of injury. The majority of trail surfaces will absorb some of the energy of each step you take, meaning your muscles work harder while the impact on your joints is reduced. Also, because the uneven terrain makes your whole body work a bit harder, you’ll develop new strength, fitness and resilience that will transfer to improved performance and reduced injury risk with any other sport or activity you take part in.
Trail running can help improve your sense of balance and agility, which translates to improved sporting performance.
Trail running provides a greater challenge to your core area than road or treadmill running, helping to improve your posture for day-to-day activities and making you look taller and slimmer.
Trail running requires more concentration than running through the streets and, while it’s nice to let your mind wander sometimes during your workouts, you’ll experience faster fitness gains if you’re fully engaged in your activity.
Some people believe that more time spent in a natural environment helps improve your sense of smell and taste, which in turn improves your ability to regulate your appetite and tune into foods and drinks that your body really need, rather than craving processed sugar, which can be a result of a compromised sense of taste and smell.
Finally, nature can have a soothing effect on the psyche. Studies have shown that post-operative patients who have a view of trees require less pain medication and fewer days in hospital than those whose rooms have a view of a brick wall. So, getting out to run some trails can be a simple way to not only boost the physical results that you get with your exercise, but also to give yourself a much-needed emotional boost that will translate into improved results in every area of your life.