The Hidden Benefits of Running

These guys are the reason I continue to run.

These guys are the reason I continue to run.

If you don’t remember Charis, she was our guest blogger that “stalked” her neighbor and convinced her to run to be her running buddy (How My Running Buddy Got Me Moving). Well, she’s back with another healthy journey. Here’s her tale:

My running buddy continues to push me to stay healthy. Therefore, I can correlate my cardiovascular improvement as an inverse relationship to the number of times we have run together (I have no idea what I just said there, but it sounded scientific and awesome, didn’t it?).  Bottom line is I still need my running buddy, but I’m to a point where I can survive on my own.

I have had several surprises along this journey to better health.

  1. I thought it would get easier. I expected to find a sweet spot where the miles would fly by as if I was “born to run.”  Truth be told, I still find even the first mile a challenge. Granted, some days are better than others, but while the miles may have got a little less demanding, it has not happened at the rate I had expected.
  2. I thought the pounds would simply melt off as I increased in my mileage. The pounds do fall off, but much to my chagrin, they are hanging on for dear life. My clothes are fitting a little bit better, but the changes aren’t as extreme as they would have been 10 years ago.

However, while I started running to lose weight and get fit, I found a new gift from running that I didn’t originally seek. Runners already know this so well, but I am going to let you in on the secret:

I feel better about my life in general.

That’s right, while exercise hasn’t made me Polly Anna, the stress relief I’ve found from running has given me the ability to “roll with the punches” better than I ever have before. It’s the most amazingly unexpected benefit I’ve ever received. I have two kids and a full-time job, and I’ve found I can handle work and family like a champ! In fact, I’m actually finding I enjoy work more.

Some brilliant minds aka “science nerds”, suspect exercise enhances mood by increasing serotonin, the chemical thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness. Others theorize that exercise boosts self esteem because of the accomplishment (Yay me, I planned to exercise, it was hard and I completed it), and that exercise trains ourselves to handle stress by stressing the body in a controlled environment.

Whatever the reason, I can tell you it’s worked. Sure, the science behind it is there, but I challenge you to find out for yourself.

Fitness, losing weight, getting some fresh air…that’s all great. But now, the stress relief is the reason I continue to run.

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