With the crocuses rearing their heads as it turns to spring, the desire sprouts to go outside and soak up all the Vitamin D rather than stay inside staring at a computer screen. The winter fosters hibernation tendencies; fattening up on stores of food, and sleeping a lot. The new spring encourages movement, and to shed our winter weight and winter frame of mind. Long distance running can be a great way to trim waistlines, and enjoy the sunshine. I have been a runner since high school with a three year stint on my college Cross Country team. For years people always seem to envy me for my small waist and trim body, and while some of it is a good diet and genetics, I believe that running has helped keep me at the same weight for over 8 years. For three season out of the year, I run 2-4 times a week alternating the distance between 2-4 miles. I am very casual about how long it takes me to complete a run, challenging myself just enough to lather up a sweat and feel the ache in my limbs.

Here are a few natural advantages for those who run;

  1. Running is a Mood Booster
    Known as a “runner’s high,” running releases endocannabinoids which are feel-good hormones, and daily 30 minute exercise can improve the mood, quality of sleep, and concentration even in individuals with major depressive disorders.
  2.  Running Helps Maintain Healthy Body Weight
    You burn calories as you exercise, but regular exercise promotes “afterburn” which is a phenomenon of burning bonus calories after you are done exercising. This occurs when you exercise at 70% intensity, somewhere a little faster than your easy pace and a little slower than full intensity.
  3. Running Promotes Joint Strength                                                                                                         Running has the ability to increase bone mass, even stem age-related bone loss in older individuals. It’s a myth that running will ruin your knees, and science has even proven that it improves knee health.
  4. Running Sharpens the Mind                                                                                                                            For aging individuals, regular exercise can keep important brain functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory in top working order.

Running has the advantage of providing a sound body and sharp mind to the casual individual looking to spend at least 30 minutes outside in the spring sunshine. Personally, the only advantage I need is the feeling of freedom and fresh air.