I was out running and thinking about why I run, about why other people run and why they might not want to. If you’re in that last category, maybe these reasons will inspire you.
1. Outrun others when the zombie apocalypse comes
Or outrun any other disaster.
Indeed, I have a couple of tee shirts that illustrate the kinds of things we might want to outrun.
Remember the saying “I don’t need to outrun the [insert scary thing here], I just need to outrun everyone slower than me!”
Yeah, well that! So long as I’m faster than just one other person, I’ll survive the zombie, tyrannosaurus rex, nuclear disaster, or chemical spillage right? Hell yeah!
Not the most generous or thoughtful approach to survival. Where’s the “think of others before yourself” attitude?!
2. Fitness or weight loss
So this one is obvious. Some people run (or whatever) because they enjoy it, some run because they need to, and some because they want to lose weight or get fit.
No, running/exercise isn’t a pay and reward system where we need to calculate how far we have to run if we’re going to eat that chocolate cake. It’s not about consuming the calories and then burning them off.
But fitness is an important part of being overall physically and mentally healthy. Combining a sensible diet and just a bit of exercise can have huge effects. Himself did couch to 5km, while cutting out the worst snacks, and lost two stone in three months. Not super fast and that’s a healthy weight loss. He feels better physically and knows that the risk factors for stroke and heart attack are reduced, giving him peace of mind too.
Running might be your chosen tool, or maybe swimming, the gym, boxing, circuits, surfing, HIIT, cycling, or walking. It doesn’t really matter which, but their effects on physical and mental wellbeing are excellent reasons to pull on your trainers, goggles, wetsuit, or gloves and get going (maybe don’t wear all that kit at the same time though hey).
3. Bone density
Yep, studies have shown (like University of Missouri) that “high-impact activities, such as running, might have a greater positive effect on [bone density] than resistance training”.
So, yeah, women in particular (who are more prone to osteoporosis) can benefit from running to help work against nature or genetic predispositions to lose bone density as we age.
I run with music (this is known), so I obviously don’t literally mean peace and quiet; silence. I mean, finding the space and time to not be super busy. When I run, I cannot (by definition) be worrying about emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, whether I have emails, making dinner, or any of the other million things that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Instead, I need to watch where I’m going, and pay some attention to my pace.
Sure I can worry while I’m out there. But worrying, or thinking through problems from end to end with plenty of time and no pressure to make a decision now really helps me to find a conclusion without angst.
I might be figuring out how to fit in all the activities we need to do, or trying to decide how to deal with the work arsehole, or mourning boy3. Whatever’s on my mind, I have the time to let it fill my mind, process, and move on. Bliss.
5. Mental health
Hmm, I think 4 kind of covers this but there’s more to it. Our mental health is affected by endorphins and seratonin – they help us to be able to feel happy. And what releases endorphins and serotonin? Well, lots of things, but exercise is one of them.
What’s more, when you get a sense of achievement because you just ran that bit faster than usual, or you went further today, or Strava told you that you’ve covered a section more than anyone else, that releases those happy chemical too.
See running is good for you in so many ways.
I think I’ve written about this before.
One of the reasons that I run is to take control. This is sort of related to fitness and weight loss, but it’s not the same. When boy3 was born at 20 weeks, it was because my body didn’t do its job. I couldn’t control it and my body just didn’t do what it was supposed to do. So, six months or so after he was born, as I came out of the darkness of loss, running taught me that I could make my body do as it was told. It couldn’t hold a pregnancy any more, but I could make it run 3 kilometres and I could turn my lose tummy back into something strong. For me, running is about not letting my body’s failure control me. It’s about putting my determination into practice and achieving my goals.
How about you?
What got you into your favourite sort of exercise?