The Positive Impacts of Running
Let’s be honest, running can be hard work. It takes a lot of physical, mental and emotional discipline. So, why run and love it as a hobby? It’s simple. There are a lot of positive impacts that running brings. Running has a lot of physical, mental, and social impacts with both short and long term benefits.
Personally, running was never my thing back in the day. Growing up I played basketball, volleyball, and softball. In high school and college I did dance, and till this very day I have always been an avid hiker and cyclist. BUT, running!? I always thought it to be impossible, intimidating and tough to do. When a person told me that they ran for fun, I thought they’d be lying! However, when I was finally wrapping up nursing school, I wanted to take up a new challenge. I chose running, and my new goal was to run my first half marathon. I chose it because I wanted to do something that I thought I couldn’t achieve. While I was in nursing school, not only did I learn about the positive benefits it had in preventing certain diseases, but I also saw how much running and other weight-bearing exercises improved the overall health of my patients. They were the ones that truly inspired me to run and take on this new challenge.
When I began running, it was no doubt really tough at first. It was painful, exhausting, and my lungs felt like they were on fire. However, when I ran more on top of the weekly hiking and cycling that I did, it felt almost therapeutic. I was starting to get the hang of it. Within time and within all the training that I did, running finally became fun and enjoyable. Pretty soon, it became a hobby. Eventually, I ran my first half marathon and I loved every single bit of it. Since then I’ve fallen in love with running, training, and running marathons. Over the last few years I’ve seen and experienced the great benefits of running, and what it has positively done for others and I.
Here are some of the positive physical, mental, & social aspects of running:
Physical Benefits :
No surprise here, but running is an exercise that burns more calories than other physical activities! This also helps lead to weight loss and a decrease in blood pressure (preventing hypertension).
When you begin to run, you’ll look/feel stronger and fit . Before I started running, I was always trying to reach a goal weight and I wanted to have a skinnier frame. But when I began to run, I realized that achieving a goal distance was way better. I felt strong ,empowered , and energetic . Because of running, I was even hiking and cycling better. Running made me realize that I should be proud of how strong I was becoming instead of longing for a skinnier body. Besides, being strong beats skinny any day!
Running also has A LOT of long-term benefits as well. While you’re running your heart is constantly pumping blood throughout your body and extremities. This helps strengthens your cardiac muscles and arteries , which then helps prevent heart disease, strokes, and other heart complications . It also helps prevent diabetes and maintains your blood sugar at low levels . As you run, your body is fueling itself by breaking down the foods you eat as energy, thus lowering your glucose and bad cholesterol levels . Running also promotes better breathing and improves bone health . Studies have shown that weight-bearing exercises (like running) helps prevent osteoporosis and injury because it increases bone density. Not only that, but you boost up your immune system because you increase your white blood cell count! These are the awesome itty-bitty cells that help fight off certain diseases (i.e. cancer, diabetes, etc.). As you can see, your cardiovascular health and general overall health is greatly improved with running!
With the addition of the physical benefits, running is definitely good for the soul . It also makes you happy too! When running, most runners get that “ runner’s high .” That’s because when you run, you stimulate the brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins that help make you feel happy and relaxed . Running also helps fight off stress, anxiety, depression, and lethargy . Instead you feel calm , energized , and feel like you’ve achieved some mental clarity . When I was studying for my nursing state board exam after finishing school, there was no doubt that I was beyond stressed out, mentally drained, and exhausted. However, while I was training and studying at the same time, running helped keep me calm . Not only that, but it also boosted my sleep quality, mood, and concentration . As you run you boost up your blood circulation, thus increasing the blood flow to your brain, which then improves mental stamina and helps keep you focused .
Aside from making you happy, running makes you feel confident . You feel empowered and strong . When runners cross that finish line, they achieve a sense of accomplishment and a greater sense of self-reliance . After all the sweat, pain, and hard work, that is exactly how I felt when I ran my first half-marathon. Not only did I have an improved self-esteem , but I was motivated ; and I felt like I could achieve whatever I set my mind to.
Aside from the physical and mental benefits, now come the social benefits! Running brings people together . Whether you’re running by yourself, with friends, or with family, you will meet new people along the way who will inspire you to be a better runner. You make new friends and social circles are formed. Till this very day, I still keep in touch with friends who I’ve met from previous marathons. Friends that I met from across the country that ran the same races as I did. Whether you meet via social networks, at running expos, join a running group or club, you’ll make a lot of new friends who share that same passion and enthusiasm for running.
Everyone runs for different reasons. Whether it is for health reasons, personal reasons, to make new friends, to achieve a certain goal or to run for a certain cause. The positive aspects of running outweigh the negative, plus you’ll look good and feel good. With all the physical, mental, and social benefits, running improves the overall health and well-being of a person. To all the runners out there: train well, keep running, and keep inspiring. To everyone else who feels intimidated to start running (like how I was): it only begins with one step. One stride. It’s all about progression, not perfection. Nothing is impossible if you’re willing to work for it! With that being said, I really look forward to meeting and running with all of you at the Giant Race this September! See you all on the field!
– Kailani Basuel , @ kaybythebay
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