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Global Running Day: The Many Benefits of Running

For many of you, every day is running day. It is a part of who you are—you run with friends or family, you travel for races or charity events, and the day your favorite running shoes go on sale is like your off-season birthday surprise. For Global Running Day, however, let’s really give running the kudos it deserves. From improving your health to literally changing the world, there is just nothing quite like running.

In his instant classic, Born to Run, Christopher McDougall offers a sort of love letter to our wonderful pastime and the adaptations that make humans so darn good at running. And running hasn’t only served us well as recovering cave dwellers or hunter-gatherers chasing down dinner.

People of all ages benefit from running. For teens, running can be a great start to a lifetime of healthy choices. From controlling weight and strengthening bones and muscles, the physical benefits are clear. But in those years of hormones and emotions, running can help improve and stabilize the teen’s mood and decrease some of that constant stress. Folks in their 20s and 30s reap those same benefits and get some bonuses. These are the years you’ll likely set your all time personal records, run your longest races, and have the most time to dedicate to the sport. Right? You’re also ramping up your career, maybe starting a family, and enjoying a hundred other things in life. Running can still be your constant. It can relieve that stress your feeling, but also give you some “me time” to process the beautiful mess that your life can be at times. And if you are starting a family in these years, every time you lace up or smile as you cross a finish line, your little-biggest fans are seeing a real example of healthy living. The 40s, 50s, and beyond? We’ve told you before of the benefits running can have for cognitive function, memory, and warding of chronic conditions. But these years can be some of the sweetest for runners. Yes, you may run fewer miles or less strenuous courses. You’ll focus solely on where you place in your age group rather than on the overall leaderboard. And you’ll love it all the same. By now, you’ve made friends who’ve run the same races you do for years. You’ll text or email them to see if they’ll be running in this race or that. You’ll have all the drive and confidence you’ve always had, but also the wisdom to enjoy the gift and hard-earned benefits of good health and good company.

Aside from making our body’s stronger and our individual lives richer and healthier, running—more specifically, runners—are doing the same for communities and causes across the globe. In Jordan, Mo’ath Alkhawaldeh uses running in his work for Generations for Peace, implementing programs in Middle Eastern and African countries that use running and athletics to address a variety of issues spurred by constant conflict in these areas. Molly Barker noticed the high rates of depression and anxiety in young girls and used her experience as an accomplished runner and Ironman triathlete to found Girls on the Run—a program that uses running to relieve anxiety and depression and give these girls a brighter today and more promising tomorrow. With a similar focus on health and community, Ashley Hicks-Rocha and Toni Carey started Black Girls Run!. They wanted to address the obesity crisis they saw among black women, but also open a door for black women into an amazing sport traditionally dominated by white men. Now in over 70 cities, over 200,000 members, and a nod from Oprah, these ladies are changing lives. The stories go on and on—from groundbreaking efforts and worldwide efforts to you hitting up neighbors and coworkers to sponsor you on a charity run, running and runners are making our world a better place in countless ways.

Wherever you are, you can pledge to run for Global Running Day. The goal of this day is to inspire kids to run to stay healthy and embrace a lifestyle of fitness. See if there is an event near you. If not, lace up and tell someone else about it. Make it a point to talk to a kid or teen in your life about what running means to you and what the sport has done for you. If you participate on Global Running Day, tell us about it! Let us know what running means to you or how it has changed your life or lifestyle for the better. Drop us a line in the comments or over on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We look forward to hearing from you. 

 

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