What’s in it for you? Five reasons running will make you feel better.

Ooh you are good.

That’s what I hear when I tell people I’m a runner. Like I’m virtuous. In my mind, virtuous is spending half an hour cleaning up dusty oats and stray strands of spaghetti out of the bottom of the larder cupboard. Not putting on my trainers and clearing off for a while under the ruse of ‘keeping fit’.

Running is selfish.

Running has nothing to do with conforming to what the world thinks my body should look like.

Running is mine.

Running can be yours too.

Unsure about starting or thinking about getting back into it? I challenge you to give it a few weeks and not feel at least three out of these five benefits:

Bypassing the mind-traffic

I run without headphones which means I can tune into the buzzword of the moment: mindfulness. The birds swearing at each other, the trees, the rustle of a squirrel in the undergrowth – and of course the beating of my heart. All sensations that root me in the here and now. If you enjoy wearing headphones, music can do exactly the same thing – all that matters is that you take your human body back to what it’s good at, moving.

Improved mental health

And I’m talking about making a real impact on the chemical imbalances in your brain – particularly if you suffer from stress, anxiety or depression. Endorphins lift your mood and if you suffer from brain fog (like I do), it can help to clear your mind, so you can get on with life.

Toning up

I once met a lady who said she’d lost two and a half stones doing Couch to 5K. Lovely, I thought, I’ll do the same. I lost half a stone, which I now know is normal for me. But, I had to buy smaller running trousers and you could bounce pennies off my thighs. I’m learning that #strongnotskinny is another hip concept that definitely resonates with me.

You’ll learn just how strong you are

The routine of a programme like Couch to 5K gets you over the hurdle of ‘can I do this?’ The first time you run 30 seconds, uninterrupted, it feels like you’ve completed a marathon. The sense of achievement is massive, believe me. And then you’ll go from hurdle to hurdle like a pro, notching up your own personal trophies on the way.

It’ll alter the way you see your body – in a good way

The multi-million dollar diet industry is changing. Giant player, WW have recently altered their slant on shifting pounds by focusing more on wellness. The scales are still involved but I think it’s a move in the right direction. Putting more thought into what you get out of your body than what you put in seems more likely to defeat diet cycles which can inflate self-esteem issues and ultimately lead nowhere. I eat well so that I can run and feel healthy.

Fat-shaming has never kept me away from chocolate cake.

Remembering I’d like to be a few pounds lighter, so that I can improve my personal best, has.

(Although I still remain a firm believer in the joy of chocolate cake.)

So, get your kit together, download a training app (I most whole-heartedly recommend Couch to 5K) and get going.

If you can’t run

Obviously, have a chat with your doctor if you have health concerns, it may be that it’s not advisable for you to run at this time. No matter. Buy a decent pair of trainers, put aside sportswear just for the purpose and get yourself a water bottle. Invest in a fitness watch or get an arm band for your phone and…

Walk instead

The benefits? You’re as serious about your fitness as anyone else out there – whether they’re running in the park or working out at the gym. The muscularskeletal and cardiovascular benefits of walking are well-documented as are the benefits for fighting off dementia and bolstering mental well-being.

Like to know more?

Check out my five top tips for plus-size runners and read up on why lack of movement is more of a threat to your heart health than being overweight. For reasons why the fat-shamers are wasting their breath, read my thoughts on why they’re playing a losing game and if you’re looking for some inspiration for a healthy lunch, I’ve a few kitchen tips too.

Thanks for reading. Share if you’ve found this helpful and leave your own thoughts below.

Enjoy your run (or walk).

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