26.2 Reasons Why We Love Running
- Running helps us live longer. Too bad Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León wasn't a runner or he really would have found the fountain of youth. Studies show that running for as little as an hour a week can increase your life expectancy by around six years. Danish heart expert Dr. Peter Schnohr, who led a study of almost 2,000 male and female runners, said: "We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don't actually need to do that much to reap the benefits." We'll trade an hour a week for an extra six years, how about you?
- Running allows us to eat guilt-free. You know what really stinks? Research shows that no matter how good you are at sticking to your diet, unless you engage in moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week for at least 30 minutes - you will naturally gain weight as you grow older. So stop worrying about your stupid diet and make sure you're getting some quality runs on a weekly basis!
- Running has given us the strength to persevere. If you wake up in the morning and your first step out of bed lands in a "treat" your sick dog left for you - your reaction will be much different if you just learned you won a million dollars versus being laid off from your job. Running has taught us that our minds will play tricks on us to make us believe things are actually worse than they really are… Runners have mental conditioning that allows them to take it one mile, one block, one telephone pole at a time and know that they will finish no matter what.
- Running makes us more productive. Have you noticed that you're more productive on days that you started with an early morning run? Running not only keeps our body physically healthy, it helps our mental state to be more focused and productive. It's one of the 15 Small Things Successful People Do Every Day!
- Running improves the way we look in our jeans. Muffin tops are the scourge of anyone trying to look good in jeans (no plumbers need apply). Intervals are proven to reduce belly fat and increase your metabolism. So instead of always running at the same, steady pace - mix things up a bit on your shorter runs by doing some fartleks and pyramids.
- Running makes our brains fat. This study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that running may actually increase your brain size. In the study, animals which exercised had more than twice as many new brain cells as those that did not. These cells were in the area of the brain which is important to memory and learning. Feeling guilty about all those brain cells you killed in college? Go on a run.
- Running has made us a part of something larger. Have you found that your energy and spirits lift when you're around other athletes? The feeling of being a part of something larger is palpable and often emotionally moving for us - especially when you're competing for a good cause like a Team In Training event. On top of that, it's addictive! The more you experience these feelings, the more ingrained they become as part of your identity and the more motivated you are to do even more!
- Running has allowed us to enjoy traveling even more. Whenever we travel to a new city, the first thing we do is put our running shoes on and explore. There is no better way to get a feeling of what a city has to offer than to run through the streets and experience the sights, smells, and sounds up-close and personal. We have a goal of one day running a marathon on every continent - what a great excuse to travel and see the world!
- Running helps us sleep better. Have you noticed it's getting harder to get a good night's sleep? If you haven't yet, you will. This study finds that as you age, you will have an increase in "nighttime awakenings and decrease in deep sleep." The good news is that the study also found that it's participants improved their sleep by running 60 minutes a day, three times a week over the course of the 24 week study.
- Running has given us friends for life. Have you noticed how easy it is to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger standing next to you at the start of a race? Would you ever do that standing at a crowded bus stop? We can't tell you how many friends we've made throughout the years just bonding with like-minded athletes we've met through this wonderful sport.
- Running clears our minds. Does relaxation for you mean zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day with a nice Chianti? Yeah, we do that sometimes too but it does nothing to reduce the damaging effects that stress has on our bodies. To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body's natural relaxation response and running is one of the best ways to do that.
- Running keeps us motivated. You know the great thing about age groups in races? Every few years we get to be the youngest of the group! This is a prime opportunity to get a "1st in our age group" award and show all of our friends we still have it. What a great motivator and who knows, we may just set a personal record in our quest to keep getting better no matter how old we are.
- (1) Running makes us nicer. Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, reported in the March, 2008 issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect. Seriously, with all of those endorphins, it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to be a jerk, right?
That's it for this week's post. We hope you enjoyed the first half marathon of reasons we love running. Next week we'll post the other 13.1 reasons. In the meantime, if you have any you'd like to include in our list - post them below and we'll happily add them!
Keep on Running!
Julia, Patrick & Jo-Jo
The Healthy Running Blog
Educate, Equip, & Empower
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