Regardless of your motivation for running, this simple exercise can lead to a number of health benefits you might not have expected. Many people associate running with fat loss, but this activity is also adept at toning your muscles. Running won't necessarily give you a six pack, but dedication to this workout strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles.
Your Abs Support You
Each stride you take during your run requires the effort of several of your muscles. Although your legs propel you forward, your abdominal muscles play a supporting role in your running cadence. These muscles hold your torso in an upright position, which is integral to avoiding back pain while running. Because running causes a significant amount of spine movement, strong abs can stabilize your spine to prevent injury.
Strengthen Your Abs for Your Run
Although running will strengthen and tone your abs -- and help you burn fat around your midsection and elsewhere -- several strength-training exercises can further build your abs. Although many people use traditional crunches or situps as ab-strengthening exercises, the American Council on Exercise reports that the bicycle maneuver, captain's chair leg raises and stability ball crunches are the three best exercises for your abs.