BY JESS WRAY
Running. For me, this word brings about pain in my body just by thinking about it; an endless battle between my mind and my body. However, that is about to change. I have just officially purchased a new pair of Nikes and have assembled a “WORKOUT” playlist on my iPod, so I have absolutely NO more excuses holding me back from starting running. If you are one of those people who loves the idea of running but not so interested in the practical, you’re just like me but we might have to rethink that and understand just how much running can benefit our health as teenagers.
“Running benefits a teenage girl’s health and fitness in many ways, from the obvious to the more nuanced. A strong cardio base and experience in running can boost performance in many sports, including track and field, soccer, softball and basketball.” (Livestrong.com, 2011) Most teenage boys and girls begin running with a clear mind-set or physical goal to achieve weight loss, muscle gain or toning throughout the legs. These are definitely some potential benefits of running and can be achieved with a bit of hard work and determination. However there are so many other health benefits that come from running too.
Feeling the burn? Excellent, really, do carry on! Did you know that approximately 60% of runners start running to manage their weight? The reason being that running is one of the top burners of fat and burns plenty of calories and kilo joules that will keep us girls lean and mean. In fact, running (with the exception of cross-country skiing) burns more calories per minute, than any other form of cardiovascular exercise (RIRIAN PROJECT, 2012). Running has also proven to reduce the risk of stroke, breast cancer and childhood diabetes. Even though you may not love running, your heart definitely does! As regular running reduces the risk of heart attacks, by strengthening your heart and lowering your blood pressure. So that racing heart beat is not such a bad thing after all!
Through running, you can also maintain and/ or improve your general health by raising HDL or also known as “good” cholesterol, reducing your risk of blood clots and encourages your lungs to use the 50% of the organ that is usually unused. So when you are out for a run and you feel as if you can’t breathe, it’s just your mind, the unused 50% of your lungs is clearing out all the cob webs!
Apart from the many physical benefits that running has on your body, running is extremely beneficial in training the mind and encouraging mental improvement. With us humans only using a small percentage of our brains, I’m pretty sure there is plenty of room for improvement! Jogging and running builds your confidence and self-esteem like few other individual sports can. It makes you feel such a sense of achievement when you have conquered that evil hill or ran that extra 2 km and with each victory we grow stronger and stronger both in our bodies and our minds. By making yourself overcome the nasty or nice obstacles that running brings your way, you learn to train your mind to focus and you feel determined. These skills will prove very important as you go all throughout life, by increasing focus and determination, so it is beneficial in the making and shaping of your actions and your attitude. “It provides a feeling of empowerment and freedom that comes with knowing that your legs and body are strong and capable.” (RIRIAN PROJECT, 2012) And for those who are trying or experiencing weight loss, you will start to feel more confident as your self-image and attitude towards yourself start to change.
With running, there is no more room for excuses such as: “I just broke up with my boyfriend” or “I’m too stressed with school” because running happens to relieve stress and is great for tearing away with that anger and aggression that you might be feeling towards your maths teacher. Think about it, whilst you run you are alone, your tension soon flies by and you are left to think about life, question what is going on and really focus all that emotion into a well-paced sprint that will allow you to clear your mind and have you feeling better in no time. Running is scientifically proven to make you happier, by releasing endorphins that can cause euphoria (runner’s high) or just a general sense of happiness! (Livestrong.com, 2011)
There are so many more benefits of running that I could just go on and on and on, but that would get rather boring, so I have summed up the most beneficial and most important ones that will leave you with no reason NOT to run. However it’s that silly mind of mine again, saying “It’s too hot” or “I am tired” but I know that running actually cools you down with the release of perspiration AND running gives you more energy. So I guess, a bad run is better than no run at all, right? Correct. So as Anthony Bailey once said, “Man imposes his own limitations, don’t set any”.
As Nike says too, “JUST DO IT.”
So See Ya Later Alligators! I am off to run, it is my first time in my new Nikes and my first time running in about 3 months. I know this will be a challenge. However I will overcome it, I WILL DO IT! I challenge you to make room for one run this week, that’s all, just one and see if you feel the difference!
So… RUN LIKE THE WIND.
Are you a runner? Do you enjoy running or do you prefer another sport? How does running affect or make you feel?