Trail running offers many benefits for runners looking to mix up their usual urban routes. Depending on your schedule it might not be possible to switch to trail running for your daily fitness, but there is plenty of good to be found by exploring trails once a week or so at least. Off road running offers so many benefits to runners and some of them may surprise you.
Burn more fat
Because trail running demands that your whole body is switched on and working to maintain balance and stability, the activity burns up to 100 calories more per hour than road running. If you’re keen to lose some unwanted body fat, trail running may help you achieve your goals sooner.
Reduce common running injuries
Running on hard surfaces like roads and paved footpaths is taxing on the body. The joints are placed under a lot of pressure, and the flat, unchanging nature of the urban environment means the body is impacted in the same places repeatedly. These repetitive impacts can lead to many common road running injuries. Off road running demands flexibility and adaptability, which means no part of the body will be under repeated strain. This helps to distribute the load more evenly across the muscle and joint systems.
Total body workout
All of that adaptation and flexibility helps to reduce pressure points, and it also activates a diverse range of muscles throughout the body while off road running. Stability is key, so the core, back, arms and even shoulders are all activated and ready to provide balance along with forward momentum. Some long-distance trail runs require carrying supplies, so additional weight bearing can provide more opportunities for upper body conditioning.
Improve mental health
Running in the fresh air can genuinely help reduce stress and anxiety levels. Spending time in nature has been shown to be very calming, and exercising in green spaces helps to improve mood. People who are prone to depression and associated negative thought spirals or ruminations can benefit significantly from spending time off road running. Those negative spirals are far less likely to occur in nature, while running in urban areas shows no such improvement.