How running can affect your entire lifestyle

As a runner, you learn to listen to your body.

EXERCISE is in. Everyone is running or cycling or lunging somewhere. Just take a quick look around you on a Saturday morning: parks, beaches and streets are filled with people sweating it out. Facebook and Twitter are littered with posts about workout achievements and motivational quotes of the day.

Why now? Why is it that everyone is jumping on the fitness train? I think it's a simple answer. We want to live healthier, longer and more fulfilled lives, and being fit is an integral part of this.

Everyone is trying to live their best life possible. People are turning to physical exercise, whether it's race training or a power walk in the park, for many reasons, all of which make for a healthier life.

When the dreaded recession hit some years ago, it affected people in so many ways. Many people looked at ways to tighten their belts without jeopardising their waistline -- and free, outdoor exercise, especially running, was what people turned to.

Running is also used as a means of stress relief. People use this time to either switch off or work through problems.

How many times have you come back from a workout feeling worse than you did when you started?

The answer is never.

One way or the other, you feel better after a run, more energised and ready to take on whatever challenge comes your way.

Running is for everyone, that's the beauty of it. You don't have to run marathons or take part in a race. You can run for fun, in the evenings after work, or at the weekends with friends. There is no pressure from teammates, or complicated moves to learn.

We spend our days under pressure in work with emails to answer, meetings to attend, deadlines to meet. There are children to pick up, dinners to prepare, to-do lists to complete, life is busy and you don't want your free time to become another chore on that list.

Running is flexible, you can do it when and where you like, it's on your terms, and this is so refreshing if you've spent your day toing and froing.

Running is extremely personal. Everyone is doing it for different reasons: stress relief, weight loss, personal challenges, the list is endless.

As a runner, you learn to listen to your body.

'Listening to your body' is a buzz word you hear a lot these days, but it is incredibly important in today's busy world.

Too often people become very ill and they don't even realise it, nor do they know why or how to fix it, because they haven't stopped to be mindful. It is vital to your health and well-being to be tuned in to your body and mind. Running can help with this, and it has a host of other benefits.

Live longer and healthier

Running reduces the risk of developing heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It also reduces the risk of having a stroke. Exercise, combined with a healthy diet, is one of the best ways to naturally reduce your blood pressure if it's above normal.

Running also improves your immune system, so your body is better at fighting off germs. Your strength and stamina will increase too, allowing you to better handle common activities such as carrying a heavy bag of groceries or climbing stairs.

Life is much more enjoyable when you're fit and healthy. You look good, and you feel good. Getting out into nature is good for the soul. Achieving goals builds confidence. Why not make the most of life?

Fight Fatigue

When you are feeling sluggish or tired, lacing up your trainers is the last thing you feel like doing, but once you start, believe me you will have more energy. Many people think they don't have the time or the energy, but give it a try and in no time your energy levels will shoot through the roof!

Of course there are times when you are just too tired, and that's okay: this is listening to your body! Finding the time isn't easy but can you possibly spend 30 to 45 mins fewer on the internet or watching soaps? I think we all can. Use this time to run!

Healthy body fat

If you try and lose weight simply by dieting, you'll lose some muscle along with body fat, and you'll slow down your metabolism. Running and eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you lose body fat, tone and strengthen your muscles, and speed up your metabolism.

Maintaining a strong, efficient metabolism is really important. You are trying to create a healthy lifestyle, not a quick fix.

If you're currently at a healthy weight, regular exercise will help you avoid putting on excess body fat in the future. When you make fitness part of your everyday life, you are less likely to gain weight and be unhealthy. Running is one of the best calorie burners out there.

Strong Body

Running, and other weight-bearing exer-cises, increase bone density, which can fend off osteoporosis. Men and women start los-ing bone mass around age 35. Many people complain of sore joints, but running actually keeps bones strong. If you experience pain when you start running, this is normal.

If you are doing something new it will take time for your body to adapt. Low back pain can be another ailment for many new runners. Oftentimes this is linked to something else: your hamstrings may be tight, you might have uneven hips or unequal leg length? This forces you to listen to your body, to find the problem and treat it.

Running can help strengthen your body. Start slowly and build up your distance and pace gradually. If you suffer with any pain in your body, seek the help of a physiotherapist to ensure the problem isn't serious.

Improve Your Mood

At the beginning of my running club every week, we start the run with a lot of sad faces. By the end of the first kilometre, smiles start to appear and, by the end of the session, everyone is feeling so positive, energetic and extremely proud of themselves.

Thanks to those wonderful chemicals, endorphins, released in the brain during exercise, feelings of depression, anxiety, stress and anger are reduced during exercise. Being able to run gives sufferers the power back, so that they can control their illness, not the other way round.

Better ZZZs

Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night than people who are sedentary. I always sleep more soundly when I have a good run.


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