Running for Your Body & Your Brain

I’m using today’s post to work out a summary that I’m doing for another project so I am going to get back to running and fitness for a minute here.

Don’t fret, I will tell you all about Europe in a series over the next week or two. Spoiler alert: it was AMAZING.

I’ve also been walking around with a heavy heart due to the tragedy and turmoil that we’re experiencing in the world right now. I have a lot more to say in that regard so expect more like my last post going forward.

As for today. I’m not ready to share the full details of my project just yet but the task at hand is to compile a list of positive impacts that running has on physical and mental well being. Why should people think about starting running?

There is a ton of information out there supporting the benefits of running. Every time you head out for a run you are working your muscles, joints, bones, lungs, heart, and brain. Running is truly a full body workout.

Physical activity is great for the body and necessary for achieving and maintaining optimal health. We are not meant to sit all day! (#sittingisthenewsmoking) It is important that each person choose an exercise program that works best for them but my focus here is specifically on the activity of running because it’s my fave ❤

I’m interested in both how running physically changes your body and your brain. 

In addition to overall fitness, running has been shown to have the following physical benefits:

  • Increased muscle, joint and bone strength
  • Improved blood circulation and cardiovascular health
  • Increased brain plasticity and memory
  • Decrease in stress hormones
  • Running can get you high. Seriously 🙂

I wish I was a neuroscientist but I’m not so I’m going to refer you to this interview on Marathon Training Academy that discusses the running<>brain connection in more detail. MTA Interview with Dr. Wendy Suzuki. 

With regular running the brain can actually change and grow. Aerobic exercise aids the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain associated with memory, in generating and retaining new cells. Really cool stuff!

The mental benefits that are not so obvious are what I’m most interested in. Running improves all aspects of your life. This is a bold statement and one that I think most runners would agree with.

Regular running has been shown to improve mood. Running can help with depression. Running boosts self-esteem. Running can help people overcome many challenges and adversities beyond just fitness and weight loss.

Check out the Runners World Human Race Podcast. Each story profiles a person or a group of people who literally changed their lives through running.

Running is a sport where progress is very clear and tangible. If you want to run 5 miles, you have to start by walking 1 and build your way up. Anyone can do it but it takes time and dedication. I think that most people are surprised and satisfied at what they can achieve by following a simple training schedule. Goal setting, hard work and sense of a achievement are all benefits of running that can translate to other parts of life.

I don’t have a crazy transformation story but speaking from experience, when I am active my outlook is positive and I am more productive. When I take a break from working out, I notice that my mood starts to slip. My body is pretty sensitive to activity and diet changes (aka mostly I’m just moody and hungry) so I have to be careful to maintain a balance. If putting on my sneakers and doing something I love helps keep me on an even keel, count me in.

Not everyone is going to be a runner, I get that, but how do we make sure that people who may be interested in running get the opportunity and direction to get started?

Not a runner? The podcast that I link to above analyzes running, walking and HIIT as they relate to mood improvement and the activity that has the most significant impact is… walking!  So get moving!

Have a wonderful day out there people.

Here’s a neat sign I found in Lodo this morning. Generation Wild is a movement created by Great Outdoors Colorado to inspire kids to reconnect with nature. Good reminder for all of us.

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