Running for Freedom
by Rick Hart
This July 4th many of us will celebrate our country’s freedom from England, by participating in a race. July 4th is the 2nd busiest race day, behind Thanksgiving Day, in the United States. I suspect the reason that it isn’t number one is because in much of the country it is just too hot! Heck it’s usually too warm here in NE Ohio but we show up anyway and do the best we can.
There many freedoms that running gives us. A study from the Mayo Clinic showed that exercise stimulates the growth of new neurons in the region of the brain that is linked to learning and decision-making. Besides enhancing one’s clarity another benefit of a long run is mindlessness. When running whether you are daydreaming of your next vacation or focusing on your stride it’s a very important mental break from the normal work or family stress. A 2017 study on adults with emotional regulation difficulties found that exercise had beneficial effects on emotional health. The physically active adults better controlled negative emotions when compared to the non-active group.
Exercise also produces dopamine which is feel-good chemical that pleasures the brain’s reward pathways the same way drugs satisfy an addicts craving. Drugs of abuse and alcohol decrease the functioning of the brain’s decision-making region. Exercise helps relieve stress and depression, the two most common triggers for substance abuse, so it can be an effective path to overcoming substance abuse.
The Mayo Clinic says that exercise can often help with controlling blood pressure as much as medication. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a growing problem caused by lack of sunlight that disrupts your body clock. SAD is mostly a problem in the north during the winter. Get outside and be active in the winter. The studies don’t speak of the effect of being outside running, walking or biking in nature but I’m it’s sure of great value!
Feeling stressed – Go for a Run! – Feeling sad – Go for a Run! – Feeling overwhelmed – Go for a Run! – Decisions to make – Go for a Run!