Do you identify as a runner? Our CEO does not, despite a steady diet of 12-20 miles per week for over 25 years. But no matter how you identify with running, you cannot ignore the mental and physical benefits. Mark talks about why he’s addicted to running in this week’s Lovers & Fighters blog post…
I’ve never identified as a runner. I ran cross country in high school and have had a pretty steady diet of 12-20 miles a week for the past 27 years. But even with that consistent running habit, it never felt right to call myself a runner. Maybe I don’t feel deserving of that title as I often think of runners being core dudes that run competitively and torture themselves way more than I do. And if I’m being honest, I’ve always been a little turned off by the hard core running community as it often has an elitist stigma attached to it.
But at the end of the day, you can’t knock the awesomeness of running, a simple act that provides such good mental and physical benefits. And it’s one of the most convenient and easy physical activities to participate in. You don’t need a gym membership or equipment -- all you need is a pair of running shoes and some motivation. Why do I and millions of other people like me make running a daily habit? Science, that’s why. Running triggers the release of endorphins in the brain that can often produce a feeling of euphoria. Other neurotransmitter goodness includes dopamine, which stimulates pleasure, and serotonin, which plays a significant role in mood regulation. This brain cocktail is what makes us feel good during and after a run and what keeps us coming back for more.
Although the physical benefits of running are more easily understood and celebrated, there are some serious mental benefits:
If you’ve had a stressful day, going for a run is a very effective way to quickly relax and feel better. Harmful stress hormones like cortisol get balanced out when our bodies produce endorphins, also referred to as the happiness hormone. Endorphins act as natural antidepressants and can boost mental health.
Running uses up a lot of your energy in a really good way. It helps regulate your energy levels and will reduce the risk of insomnia or interrupted sleep. Better sleep means a better, happier you.
Increased Energy Levels
While running helps you sleep better, it also helps keep your energy levels higher and more stable throughout the day. Experts say that if we can maintain 3 days of high aerobic exercise a week, that is all we need to eliminate daily fatigue in the long-term.
Increased Confidence & Self Esteem
Running is hard and it’s you against yourself at the end of the day. Many times during a run, you want to throw in the towel. When you choose to keep running and push your own personal limits, you begin to train your mind to set goals, persevere, and follow through with your intentions. This mindset is key for realizing your best self and translates into other areas in your life.
Enjoying Time in Nature
Spending time outside has been proven to increase happiness. Studies have shown that a simple walk in the woods can improve blood pressure, boost mental health, and decrease the risk of cancer. Running outdoors will compound these effects -- add in some vitamin D and it just gets better and better.
Mark’s writing explores mental & physical conditioning and mindfulness meditation. He is the CEO and co-founder of YORK Athletics Mfg. His current go-to running shoe is the Henry Half & Half.