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Four Reasons Why You Should Run

Four Reasons Why You Should Run


    Jarring knees, bursting lungs and pouring sweat – these are just some of the unsightly consequences that social runners endure in an effort to get fit. However, there are non-physical reasons to take up running which, once adopted, can significantly improve the enjoyment of this exercise. Here are four:

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    1. “Me” time

    It is becoming increasingly difficult in life to have time to ourselves to think, reflect or completely switch off. Often this is forced upon us by the challenges of juggling work and family. At other times, the predicament is entirely self-inflicted. We simply can’t seem to resist the urge to reach for our digital gadget to fill any sliver of idle time that comes our way, be it sitting in the restroom, waiting at the bus-stop or queuing for a caffeine hit from our favourite barista. Running provides that rare avenue by which we can totally remove ourselves from life’s many distractions and truly have time for our minds to either roam wild or do absolutely nothing. No email notifications to divert attention, no phone calls to answer, not screaming children to attend to. Just the sound of our feet pounding the pavement as a backdrop to our thoughts pondering the possibilities.

    2. Creativity outlet

    When we first begin running, our minds are often disoriented from the sudden prolonged period of zero distractions. This rather ironic situation invariably leads to random or abstract thoughts sprouting in all directions—a fertile setting for true creativity. Admittedly, not too many runners have come up with ideas for curing cancer or longer-lasting light bulbs. However, I have lost count of the times, while running, that I managed to come up with solutions to the most frustrating of my problems, or with ideas from the innermost depth of my sub-consciousness.

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    3. Running your worries away

    Some of us are unfortunately so weighed down by the pressures of daily grind that, even when exercising, we can’t stop thinking about our problems. In most other sports, these lingering worries are forced to compete with the athletic tasks at hand (eg figuring out how to put that little white ball in a hole 400 yards away). We consequently come away from these activities feeling neither relaxed mentally nor fulfilled athletically.

    On the other hand, the primitive nature of running does not put any extra demand on our mental capacity, other than that we need put one foot in front of the other and not forget to breathe. If we can’t help ourselves stewing over our lives’ problems, running allows us to continue stewing over them. It allows us to do the stewing to our heart’s content, without interruption, until we have ourselves had enough. Each run then begins to eliminate just that little bit of our frustrations and anxieties, either by putting them in proper perspective or because we have worried about them so much during our runs that there is very little more to worry about. Before we know it, we start to feel mentally energized after each run, as if some of the worries have seeped out of our bodies along with the sweat.

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    4. Post-run tranquillity

    People pay very good money to escape to secluded islands or isolated mountain-top temples in order to achieve a sense of tranquillity. For those of us not as financially or spiritually able, the feeling of peaceful mellowness after a long run can be just as relaxing. I’m not sure whether this is what they call “the runner’s high”, but I have yet to find anything more therapeutic than the zen-like state of mind that overwhelms me after a 20km jog, as I sit under a shade, sipping an icy-cold drink while listening to the sound of my heart beats recovering and bird songs humming.

    It may appear remiss of me that I have not mentioned the many physical benefits as a motivation to run. However, if you can find the appeal in any or all of the above mental reasons to start running, you are much more likely to embrace it as part of your routine, instead of treating the exercise as a chore. The cardiovascular and health benefits then become just a by-product, albeit an extremely important one.

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    (Photo credit: Legs of a Runner During a Marathon via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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