Raise your hand if you complain about not having enough time left after work, family and social obligations to accomplish your daily run. Aha! We see lots of hands held aloft, which triggers this intriguing question: If you’re already overwhelmed, why are you reading this article?

The answer is clear: you’re smart and you’re wise and you already suspect that it’s extremely beneficial to your overall health if you add at least one more activity to your schedule. Here’s the best news of all: lots of athletic pursuits can pile on the health benefits!

Which sport best support your running activities? Any sport that improves your strength and enhances your flexibility will not only benefit your physique but will also help you avoid running injuries, too.

The reasoning behind this fact isn’t complicated: When you run, you only work some of your muscles, so each time you alternate athletic activities and work your other muscles, you build stamina and strengthen muscles you don’t use when you run.

Try Out Cross Training Programmes

Whether you choose to swim, cycle, do aerobics, strength train, take Yoga classes or tackle the machine circuit at your favourite gym—you “oil” your entire system when you adopt other activities. Does this sound like we’re comparing your body to a car? You bet! When your car is serviced regularly, it performs better and won’t leave you in the lurch. Adopt a cross-training programme that effects your entire body and not only will you notice differences during conditioning runs, but your performances at marathons should improve, too.

But, I don’t have time, you complain! How much time will you have on your hands if, because you didn’t add another body-enhancing sport to your repertoire, you wind up with overuse injuries?

These tend to be prevalent among pavement and trail runners, but no runner is immune, which is why it’s a good idea to think of adding another sport as an insurance policy! When you use only your ankle, knee and lower back muscles, you are subjected to damaging impact that land even savvy runners in sports injury clinics.

There are ways to stick to a running routine and undertake another athletic pursuit if you sit down, put your mind to it and re-think how you manage your day. Expand your horizons and improve your endurance, safeguard joints and benefit connective tissues that can be vulnerable to injury by adding that sport. Even a low-impact workout like Yoga helps stave off running injuries.

Photo Credit: 123RF

Did you know that if you are injured but have adopted a symbiotic running/sports routine, you can expect to recover faster in case you do wind up injuring yourself during a run? It’s true. Sure, hydration and nutrition play important roles in keeping you injury-free—and there are times only a complete rest will do if you’re to properly rehabilitate your body. But there’s plenty of evidence proving that engaging in sports other than running will not just hasten your recovery time, but might also let you return to your regular routine earlier as a direct result.

Besides helping you to mend faster, prescribed active-recovery workouts also benefits your mind big time because you won’t have to stop all of your physical activities.

If you’ve ever watched a running buddy or loved one cope with depression, loss of self-confidence and anxiety following an injury, you know how debilitating that can be. If you’re not convinced that adding a sport to your schedule will improve your mood.

Get Out of Your Comfort Running Zone

Must you rely upon an ordinary sport to improve your running game? Not according to Top End Sports, devoted to tracking some of the more bizarre types of exercise on the planet! You’ll burn calories and tone muscles even if you indulge in weird sporting endeavours like the ones we’ve picked for your amusement:

  • Bo-taoshi; this Japanese team sport resembles a hectic game of “capture the flag”,
  • Australian boomerang throwing,
  • Scotland’s weirdest sport: Haggis Hurling,
  • From the U.K.: a free-for-all form of rugby called Haxey Hood,
  • Indulging in jump rope sprints,
  • Log rolling, guaranteed to improve your balance,
  • A Bali favourite: race with buffalos at a Makepung event,
  • Mud Olympics, where just staying upright presents a challenge,
  • Raft racing—especially the whitewater version,
  • Run with the bulls in Pamplona to jump-start your nervous system,
  • Try two-handed tennis for upper body improvement,
  • or add the most strenuous, off-beat sport of them all: Wife carrying.
Photo Credit: 123RF

All kidding aside, your body will love you if you diversify your athletic endeavours because once you find the perfect mix of running and sporting activities, you do a better job of caring for your whole body, not just your extremities. Your heart and respiratory system benefit from swimming, skiing, cycling and heart-pumping aerobics, and your metabolic system will function more efficiently, too. Dare we add that you will enjoy a continual boost of endorphins as you tone and have fun?

Running may build your engine, but it doesn’t necessarily keep you fit. If all you do is run, you leave these gaping holes in your fitness.

— Fitness coach and author Jeff Horowitz

What Other Sports Do You Do?

Have we impressed you with our argument that adding a sport or physical activity to your running programme is the biggest gift you can give your body and mind?

If your answer is yes, how about answering this question: Did you audition several non-running alternatives to your schedule before finding the one that suited you, or were you able to pick a complementary pairing for your running activities from the get-go?

Aidan H.

Aidan is the Editor-in-Chief of RunSociety. With more than a decade of editorial and marketing experience working with over thousands of writers. Aidan has also written for several popular websites reaching millions of readers. Recognised as an expert on the web, his focus is to oversee RunSociety’s Creativity Channel, spanning a wide range of inspirational and enriching topics daily to the community. Get in touch with him if you have something to say, or want to weigh in on an interesting topic at hello@runsociety.com.

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