Adding a long run to your daily routine not only improves your mood and boosts your energy, but it also lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. But if cardio is all that you are doing, it might be time to make a few changes. A healthy workout routine consists of strength training, cardio, and a good amount of rest days spread throughout the week. A new research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that strength training is just as important as aerobic training, and can, in fact, add years to your life.

Using both gym and bodyweight exercises, researchers studied the association of strength training and death rates of all causes (cancer, heart disease, etc.)  by using data from the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health survey between 1994 and 2008. In total, more than 8,300 adults were surveyed.

They discovered that by incorporating a strength training workouts along with aerobic exercises, the risk of early death from any cause decreased 23 percent and that the risk of cancer-related death decreased by 31 percent.

DNA ICan Run 2015
While running can work wonders for your mental and physical health, adding strength training can add years to your life

“The study shows exercise that promotes muscular strength may be just as important for health as aerobic activities like jogging or cycling,” said Emmanuel Stamatakis, lead author and associate professor at the university’s School of Public Health and the Charles Perkins Center, in a press release.

The amount of physical activity prescribed by the World Health Organization requires that adults between the ages 18 to 64 should get 150 minutes of aerobic activity and two days of strength training every week.

“Our message to date has just been to get moving, but this study prompts a rethink about, when appropriate, expanding the kinds of exercise we are encouraging for long-term health and wellbeing,” Stamatakis said.

Running coaches and sports scientists concur that strength training, particularly for the lower body, is indispensable for distance runners because it translates to greater speed and increased muscle endurance where they need it the most. Even 15 to 20 minutes of running-specific strength work twice a week can dramatically cut your risk of running injuries.

If you are still not sure how to add strength training to your daily run, then here are 4 strength training workouts for the lower body that can add speed and agility to your running form:

Single Heel Raises

Stand on the edge of a step such that the heel has room enough to sink down behind the step when you lower it. Use a wall or rod for support if needed, and keep your left knee and hip flexed, and right leg off the ground with the thigh swinging slightly forward. Now let the left heel sink down as far as possible, and then lift it up as high as you can by shifting forward on your toe. Do 10 reps of this for both legs, with a short gap between the two. Make sure you are properly balanced at all times. This super workout strengthens calve muscles and adds more power to your lower-body, making it ready for action.

Forward lunges

Lunges build flexibility
Lunges are the easiest way to stretch your muscles after a run

Get the deep stretches in your hip flexors with regular forward lunches, and get stronger and well-activated glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. Begin by standing straight with proper upper-body posture. Now it’s time to lunge forward with your right foot, lowering your body but making sure your front knee is within the toe-line, like in a squat. Now contract your glutes to come back to an erect position without upsetting your upper body balance. Alternate your feet as you keep moving forward, till you’ve completed 8 – 10 reps on each leg.

Deep Bench Lunge

Using the bench adds extra resistance and increases your intensity level while working on your legs and butt. But this is only possible at the gym. At home find yourself a steady coffee table and clear it off for a makeshift bench. Stand a couple of feet away from the bench and extend one leg back, so the top of your foot rests on the bench. Bend the other leg, ensuring your knee does not venture beyond the toe-line. Keep your shin and foot at a 90-degree angle on the downward motion. Repeat the move on your opposite leg.

Wall sits

Wall Sits are good knee workouts for beginners
Wall Sits are good knee workouts for beginners

Stand up close to the wall with your back facing it, your feet hip-width apart, and your arms raised at shoulder height. Bend your knees while leaning your butt against the wall. If you feel like you’re struggling to balance, we recommend you keep your feet further away from the wall. For added difficulty, cross your right leg over your left and hold for few seconds before switching knees.

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