The mental health benefits of running are significant. With many of us spending the majority of ours days indoors and behind screens, running can be an excellent opportunity to get moving to improve your mindset. Whether you choose to run indoors or outdoors, running decreases symptoms of depression, alleviates anxiety, helps you sleep better, protects the brain from aging, and boosts self-esteem. It’s not uncommon to hear runners joke that running in their therapy – and for good reason! Making time to run means giving your mind time to reset.
Equipment prep… just shoes and yourself!
The beauty of running is you don’t need a lot of equipment. It is one of the most approachable fitness activities because you can set your schedule and determine how much time and distance is right for you. It’s worth investing in pair of proper fitting running shoes and loose fitting, breathable clothing. Other than that, all you need is an open mind. If you’re thinking of running, the most important thing is to start! You can begin by working out two or three days per week. There many couch-to-5K programs out there to get you started and many programs involve run/walk workouts at the beginning. Start out running three minutes, and walking one minute. If that seems a bit much at the beginning, start with running one minute, and walking three and slowly increase the amount of time you run if it feels comfortable. You don’t have to start out running significant distances. Running or running/walking for 20 minutes is great place to start. Once you get comfortable running for 20-30 minutes you can build from there.
Willing your feet forward
Running simply requires putting one foot in front of the other and there are lots of distances to try. It’s obviously tougher than it sounds, which is why it’s both a physical and mental exercise. Like all good habits, it takes around 90 days to set. This doesn’t mean running everyday, though; take plenty of breaks for recovery but make sure you’ve built yourself a reasonable cadence!
Signing up for a race can be great motivator to keep moving toward a goal. There are many 5Ks and lots of 5Ks also offer a run/walk option. Don’t worry about your pace, just have fun. If you’re interested in meeting other people starting out, consider a run club. Lots of gyms and running stores have run clubs at all levels that often put together runs and schedules to sync up with races. If your schedule is challenging, try running over your lunch break.
You may decide to keep going after your 5K. If you’re interested and feel good, you can set long-term goals for other distances, perhaps a 10K, 10 mile, half marathon, 15K, or even a marathon! Longer distances are more challenging but it gives you a sense of accomplishment, both mentally and physically, like no other. If you want your spirit to soar and have your faith in humanity restored, head out and watch the famous Chicago Marathon this coming Sunday. You’ll be inspired to your core and you’ll probably consider adding running to your routine. If you have even a tiny inkling to lace up and put one foot in front of the other, don’t be afraid to give it a go! The benefits of running are endless and range from improving your mental health, helping you achieve goals, and possibly making new friends along the way. Most importantly, have fun! You can’t lose by investing in yourself.
Guest Writer: @minnesotawriter
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