Chances are, you already know about some of the physical benefits of running: improved heart health, killer legs and overall fitness. But have you thought about all the other benefits to running? The ones that aren’t necessarily related to your physical health? Here, we put together a list of some other perks that will have you lacing up those sneakers in no time:
1. RUNNER’S HIGH REALLY IS A NATURAL HIGH
Within the last couple of years, scientists discovered that the feeling of euphoria and reduced anxiety that comes with running is activated by the same part of the brain that is affected by the THC found in marijuana. Basically, scientists realized that the endorphins we get from running couldn’t pass through the blood-brain barrier on their own, so they started looking around for something else. They found that our bodies produce an endocannabinoid called anandamide that can pass through that barrier and kickstart that high — and the endocannabinoid system is the same one that gives people a high from the THC in marijuana.
2. RUNNING CAN BE A FORM OF MEDITATION
While most of us think of meditation as quietly sitting cross-legged with our eyes closed, moving meditation can be just as effective in calming our minds. Runners focus on breathing, as does meditation. Many runners get out there to clear their minds and calm down after a stressful day. Meditation clears your mind and eases anxiety. Starting to see the connection? Meditating on the run can help you visualize your races to be more successful, connect to your pace, and build the mental strength needed to push past discomfort (something all runners are familiar with).
3. YOU CAN MAKE TONS OF NEW FRIENDS
The running community is huge, but somehow manages to have a close-knit feeling. With run crews and meet-up groups in just about every town, it’s easy to find a running partner (or five). A good place to start is your local running store, which typically offers fun runs at least once a week. If you happen to have a friend who wants to get started in running, too, that’s even better — you’ll keep each other accountable and have fun while you’re at it!
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4. IT’S A FUN WAY TO EXPLORE A NEW CITY
Whether you just moved somewhere new, or you travel, running can be a great way to get your bearings in a new place. Make sure you always have your phone on you, and use MapMyRun to plot a good route (and save you from getting lost). There’s a long-running joke that you know you’re a runner when you can tell someone exactly how many miles it is to a landmark near your house, and this exercise definitely helps you fulfill that stereotype.
5. YOU CAN DO IT ANYWHERE
People have run marathons on cruise ships, for goodness sake. Any place you can at least run in a circle (or on a treadmill), you can run. While doing laps around a cruise ship or putting in a few miles on a treadmill might not be your cup of tea, whether you are at the beach or in the mountains, if you can make the time, you can run — no equipment necessary.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN