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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 August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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