Life is riddled with problems.  Divorce, family obligations and work can all lead to a lot of daily, negative energy. Somedays we may want to just lay around and do nothing at all.  We can't.  So, let's do something better.  Let's run away from our problems!

Run towards solutions

When we get back from our run, things will look better, feel better and we will actually be better.  It can be as helpful in combating anxiety and worry as a good night's sleep.  Everything seems better in the morning or after a run!

Running is a key activity to provide our bodies with the opportunity to take on the day both mentally and physically.  It empowers and strengthens.  It builds our self-esteem, improves our spirits and betters our health.

Are you ready?

It can be a real shock to many of us to realize we aren't in the same shape as years ago.  Our memory of our capability is much more forgiving than our body. 

Start off slow.  Check with your physician to make sure it's okay based on your current health.

If you have never been a runner or it's been a long time, you may want to start your aerobic activity with walking.  Increase your distance and start speed walking over several weeks.  Then add interval training that includes some running.  As time goes on, you will build muscle and endurance.

As always, listen to your body.  If something doesn't seem right, you may need to modify your workout or add some strength training to strengthen specific muscle groups.

Is there really a "runner's high"?

Yes, running stimulates the brain to release feel good hormones like dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.  These help us cope with our everyday stressors, develop creative strategies to solve problems and generate a positive outlook.  

This neurotransmitter stimulation may be referred to as a runner's high; but it's a real brain science and completely natural.  

Run your stress off

Running is a great way to get our mind off stressful thoughts and worries.  Ever wonder why we think more about our problems when we're physically inactive, like when we're trying to sleep or just laying around eating crap all day? 

Running allows our body to take over and gives our mind a chance to rest.  This pumps all the negative energy out.  Which is often enough to recharge our batteries.   

Get outside

To get the most from your run, pump positive energy in by running outside.  You'll experience different landscapes, locations and variances in weather.  This washes natural energy over your psyche and produces a positive experience that improves your mood.  Vitamin D from the sun is helpful in keeping your bones and teeth strong, while its deficiency has been known to induce seasonal depression. 

Improve self-confidence

There are good ways and bad ways to feel better about ourselves.   Sometimes, we forget that looking better is only part of our picture.  The other half is feeling better.  While our physical appearance can impact how we feel about ourselves, managing our health, weight and mental well-being with safe and effective methods can satisfy all three of these issues better than quick weight loss methods or unsafe diet pills. 

Self-confidence starts from within.  The benefit of running provides us a way to control stress and anxiety, improve our self-image, manage weight and reduce the chance of health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.   When you look in a mirror you will feel better about how you look on the outside because you know you are healthier on the inside.

How much should I run?

According to the American Heart Association which provides recommendations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, you should include 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderately intense aerobic activity like running into your week or 75 minutes of vigorously intense aerobic activity.  This can include walking, running or other activities that raise your heart rate to about 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.   A healthy 40-year-old would want a heart rate of about 90-135 beats per minute while exercising.

Check with your physician regarding an approved exercise plan based on your current health, age and any conditions.  As mentioned earlier, start off slow with walking, water aerobics or yoga first to build some muscle, relieve stress and increase endurance.  Then replace or add interval training to include short sprints with walking.  Once your endurance improves, you can add jogging to your weekly workouts.

Again, listen to your body.  You may have some soreness or pain associated with working-out, but if your pain worsens to the point you hurt too much to do your normal activities consider the following: get better running shoes, make sure you aren't aggravating an old injury - use a brace until you build strength in specific areas, ask your doctor about recommended analgesics that don't interfere with current conditions or medications, try ice/heat therapy on affected areas (use heat to relax sore muscles/joints and ice to decrease inflammation or to control pain and swelling for acute injuries). 

If you're jogging long-distances or doing interval training, cut back to power walking - it's typically easier on your body and nearly as good as jogging.  If none of these help, you may want to speak with your doctor about possible causes.  

Is running enough?

Since the American Heart Association suggests statistically only about 1 of every 5 adults and teens get the recommended exercise to maintain good health, it would be beneficial even if we could only walk or run their recommended amount of time to maintain good health.

However, the specific recommendation based on scientific evidence gathered by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services includes the aerobic activity listed above, as well as, strength training to include resistance or weight training at moderate or high intensity two times per week.  They recommend we reduce our time sitting and take breaks throughout our day that include physical activity.  Also, we should increase our activity gradually over time to assume the most benefit with least risk for injury.

Social possibilities

Running enthusiasts are plentiful and the activity itself is a great commonality to find in new friends and love interests.  Whether your intentions are to meet new people at marathons or at the gym, you have a great new hobby that can provide you more self confidence, better physical and mental health and opportunities to share your interests with other runners.  

So, why wait? Run away from your poor health, low self-esteem, weight problems. Get outside and improve your mood with fresh air, sunshine and natural surroundings more powerful than your negative energy!  Meet new people with shared interests at marathons or when you do resistance training at gyms.  Ready?

Get set.  Go!

Article Image Courtesy Queven/Pixabay


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