Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Why Running for Exercise Doesn’t Seem Like Such a Crazy Idea Anymore

Why Running for Exercise Doesn’t Seem Like Such a Crazy Idea Anymore

Recruitment Specialist

I am a lazy person when it comes to any sort of physical activity and I fully admit this about myself (hey, it's the first step, right?). I never felt particularly alone in this plight throughout college. My friends and I would walk into the student center and bond over our mutual hatred of that scary place with the treadmills, which was pretty much as close to the gym as I ever got. However, these same girls who wouldneverbe caught breaking a sweat are all of the sudden posting pictures on social media of themselves running! And not just some light jogging. They are running 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, marathons. You name it, they've run it (and probably in matching tutus). Now I find myself asking, "Why is running all of a sudden trendy?" But more importantly, "Should I be doing it, too?"

Everyone at some point has heard that exercising is a mood-booster. As the great Elle Woods once said (why yes, I am quoting Legally Blonde), "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands. They just don't."

The evidence supporting this claim is actually astounding. Running has even become a prescription to combat depression and anxiety, sometimes having greater lasting effects than antidepressants and other medication. Michael Hopkins, a graduate student at the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Laboratory at Dartmouth noted that "…the positive stress of exercise prepares cells and structures and pathways within the brain so that they're more equipped to handle stress in other forms." This essentially means that although one can acquire a tolerance to medication and require greater amounts to reduce the same feelings, prolonged exposure to exercise can only continue to improve your ability to combat stress. The overall gains sound great, but there remains the lingering question of how these events in themselves are not considered stressful with the rigorous training that is required in preparation.

As it would turn out, the goal of most of these races is simply to have fun. The Color Run, which is the largest event series of its kind in the United States, advertises itself as the "happiest 5k on the planet." Participants finish the race covered head-to-toe in neon paint. LivingSocial hosts a 5k Dance Party complete with glow sticks and a disco, the latter of which is also part of the Bad Prom Run. The Urban Iditarod in Boston features teams of amusingly dressed individuals pulling shopping cart "sleds" to various bars across the city. There are still prizes for the best times, but the race is actually a charity event for the Boston Medical Food Bank. All of these events support some great charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mercy Corps, and countless others. Smaller, local charities are also sponsored at events held across the country.

Boston Idid

 

However, if just getting your endorphins flowing is not enough to convince you to put on a turkey costume and run through the streets of your nearest metropolitan area (that's the YMCA's Turkey Trot by the way… or there's the Tofurkey Trot if that's more your speed), consider the following: according to a study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running (however fast or slow it may be) for just five minutes per day has significant health benefits and increases longevity. In the study, runners lived on average 3 years longer than non-runners. There is also evidence that running can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Running is one of the highest calorie-burning activities one can do and it is known to help give your immune system a boost. Maybe there's a point to this trend after all, and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to find me donning a tutu right along with the rest of them.

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