Benefits of Running

By this time of the year Dixonites fall into two categories:

1. Those planning on participating in the 15th Annual Reagan Run 5k on July 5, 2014

2. Those who aren’t.

Those who aren’t are probably wondering what the big deal about running is.  Why get up earlier than I have to?  Why waste my time? Why do something so hard?  Why risk an injury?  What’s wrong with watching ESPN instead?  Well runners, non-runners and those thinking about becoming runners — here’s your answers:

The Benefits of Running.

1.  Weight management. For those trying to lose or maintain weight it’s difficult to find a better exercise than running.  Minute per minute running burns more calories than any exercise with the exception of cross country skiing.  Many runners begin to run with the goal of losing weight.  Most find they end up feeling much better, stronger and fitter.  The miles come much easier with time.

2.  Improve your overall health.  Running is a fantastic activity for improving and maintaining good health.  It raises the good cholesterol or HDL and reduces the risk of hypertension, diabetes, strokes and heart disease.  Running puts stress on bones and muscles which in turn strengthens the bones and decreases the risk of osteoporosis and thus life threatening hip fractures.  The risk of certain cancers is also decreased by running and thus decreasing overall percentage of body fat.

3. Meet cool people and develop friendships.  I would challenge anyone to stand in the starting line of the Reagan Run and not find a friendly person to talk to.  Running with a friend is a great way to catch up whether you see each other on a daily basis or less frequently. Interesting conversations always make the time and mile pass quickly.  It’s a lot easier on the thumbs than catching up via texting.

4. The infamous “Runner’s High.”  Non-runners may want to skip this section because you just wouldn’t understand.   Running releases endorphins causing a feeling of happiness or euphoria.  It’s that strange feeling of exhaustion combined with giddiness that keeps many runners coming back for more.  The feeling is enhanced by running outside – for instance – on trails.  So turn off the treadmill and head to the bike path.  Regular runners have less depression, chronic fatigue, Vitamin D deficiency and are almost never grumpy at work or when dealing with difficult family members (ok that may be a little exaggeration).

5.  Improve your success in any sport.  I would challenge anyone to find a sport that running doesn’t help with (bowling, pool, poker and chess don’t count).  By being stronger, fitter, improving lung capacity and muscle strength, performance in any sport from baseball to golfing will improve.

6.  Versatile and relatively inexpensive.  Running can be done almost anywhere and anytime (using common sense for safety).  A good pair of running shoes and weather appropriate clothes are all that is needed.  On vacation, running is a great way to explore your new surroundings and maybe even meet some locals ( see # 3).

7.  Develop personal goals.  Running is friendly on aging.  Running can be done at any age and each individual can set their own standards of success.  The general running community accepts that goals change as people change.  Boston Marathon qualifying times for example are based on sex and age and get easier as you “grow up.”

8. SANITY.  My personal favorite.  Between work, kids homework, taxi driver, bills to pay, smart phone overload and bad news all over the world, who doesn’t need time to escape and unwind?  So whether you run alone or with a friend, inside or outside, morning, lunch break or evening, take the time to take a breath and put your and the world’s problems behind you.  You’ll have a much fresher perspective when you return.

9.  Sleep better, improved mental sharpness. Studies have shown that insomniacs fell asleep significantly faster on days that they run.  Just avoid running within an hour or two of bedtime.  Those happy endorphins (see #4) may still be with you at lights out time.  In addition running may prevent you from becoming an insomniac in the first place.  In general runners make less mistakes at work, are more efficient with their time and overall student runners have a higher GPA in high school and college.

10.  Running the 15th annual Reagan Run 5k. Yes, of course, after all your hard work, you’ve earned the ultimate reward — participating in the best 5k run in the midwest!!  Enjoy the hills and earn the privilege of partaking in all the good food and drink after the race.  See ya there!!  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll even end up with a PR!

Deb Drengenberg