Your Brain on a Long Run


Your Brain on a Long Run

Nov 24, 2014 //

Your brain works in mysterious ways; there are so many ways to exercise it—from brain games to a variety of athletic activities. One of the best ways to boost your brain is to jump-start it with a nice long run. Don’t be intimidated! Even if you’re not a runner, there is no better time to get started than right now.

When you’re just beginning, the thought of going farther than just a few blocks, let alone a few miles, may be daunting. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged before you even get started. By understanding the benefits and identifying the right strategies to make you more comfortable, you’ll be well on your way to falling in love with your outside-the-gym journey.

The ‘runner’s high’ so many mention as the euphoric feeling after finishing a successful session is just one of the many benefits of a great run. Others include increased cognitive functionality, a healthier heart and internal system, and better stamina in areas outside of fitness.

Above and beyond the health benefits, you’ll begin to look and feel better—allowing yourself to feel happier and more successful in so many other areas of your life. The stick-to-it attitude you can practice by developing your endurance running may be a brand new way to find personal fulfillment.

Here are some solid facts on why running works for your brain

Total Recall

Even some exercise may increase scores on memory tests, adding to research noting that running leads to “better ability to focus, juggle multiple tasks, and make distinctions.”

Better Sleep

Did you know?: “Insomniacs fell asleep in 17 minutes on days they ran, compared to 38 minutes on days they didn’t. They also slept for an extra hour on days they exercised.”

It Works Like Medicine

Running may be a way to deal with depression. As, “Depression is linked to reduced neurogenesis, and it’s possible that SSRI drugs like Prozac encourage the growth of new brain cells. Recent research on running indicates that it does the same thing, but on an even larger scale and without the infamous side-effects of the drugs, like weight gain and decreased sex drive.”

Now that you know the science, here are ways you can make it happen without feeling overwhelmed

Turn Up the Tunes

Listening to music can help you run harder and smarter. It’s proven that physical activity paired with your favorite beats and bands can actually allow you to run longer and experience better results from your run. Make a special workout playlist on your phone and get your ears in gear and in on the action too.

Find what Route Works Best for You

Trail running is one way to step up a traditional treadmill game. Allow yourself the opportunity to be one with nature while you experience the benefit of breathing better, being more oxygenated and not to mention the extra boost of Vitamin D. If a trail isn’t easily available, look up different running routes online for your area; this will help you feel safe and secure in your search for your perfect spot.

Bring a Friend

Check out a running club in your area that will pair you up with people with the same fitness goals and levels as you. You can also encourage a family member or friend, to participate with you. The buddy system is always a good idea. It’s a safe way to get started, and could potential be a brand new healthy way to spend time and get happy with the people you love.

Start off easy; even five minutes of running will be an added benefit to your health. Give yourself the opportunity to try something new, and find new strengths that you never knew you had.

Now get moving!

Kate McDermott

Kate McDermott is a professional writer and digital media strategist living and working in East Harlem, New York City. With a passion for wellness—mind, body & soul— Kate utilizes her writing ability to inspire a sense of optimal well-being for everyone in their day-to-day lives through her words.

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