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Let’s face it, not everyone would call running fun. Running is hard — especially at first.
But according to Stewart Sanders, a doctor of physical therapy, certified athletic trainer and the director of the Sharp Rees-Stealy Running Clinic, the many health benefits of running make it worth the effort.
He shares five tips to make running easier and more fun:
Run with friends.
Running with a group of like-minded people or good friends is a great way to enjoy exercise with others. Building camaraderie around physical fitness can help motivate people and strengthen relationships.
Celebrate holidays, anniversaries and special dates.
Scheduling a run on your calendar to celebrate an event can help make an average day feel more special. This will give you something to look forward to and a sense of accomplishment that adds to the day.
Participate in themed events.
Themes can spice up a race, adding excitement, fun and inspiration to a run. Many of these events are also fundraisers to benefit different organizations. In San Diego, there are plenty of runs to participate in, such as the Awesome 80s Run, Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, and the Jingle Bell Run, which benefits the Arthritis Foundation. Many other themed races are offered year-round.
Plan a “run-cation.”
Enjoy a run while on vacation or choose a destination for its exceptional running possibilities. Finding a nice running route through a foreign city, tropical paradise or mountain escape can be a great trip activity. You can experience your surroundings at a pace different from driving or walking and enhance your adventure while staying fit.
Leave the fitness tracker at home.
Sometimes running with a fitness tracker on forces people to compete against themselves for time, distance and heart rate. While beneficial for training purposes, this can add undue anxiety and stress to a run. Choose to simply focus on the rhythm of the run to clear your mind without keeping an eye on the time.
Beyond the fun — added benefits of a run
According to Sanders, as you continue to get better at running, it gets easier, and some runners may experience a “runner’s high.” “The runner’s high is a physiological response to running that provides a state of deep relaxation or euphoria afterward,” he says.
Many people also report feeling less anxiety and pain after a run. While experts have attributed this to an increase in endorphins, new research is pointing to other types of chemical substances produced by the body, called endocannabinoids, that may be more influential. These substances affect the central nervous system and can create mild feelings of euphoria and relaxation during a short amount of time.
“Running isn’t always about training or competing,” says Sanders. “Running can be a great way to escape the stress of daily life and help clear the mind. Remember, the journey is the gift, so get out there and enjoy.”
Ready to start a running routine? Therapists at Sharp Rees-Stealy's Running Clinic offer a detailed examination to determine what factors may be related to real or potential injury, recommend any necessary medical treatment, and prevent or reduce re-injury. The clinic is open to Sharp Rees-Stealy patients with medical insurance. Contact your doctor in advance to request a referral.
The Sharp Health News Team are content authors who write and produce stories about Sharp HealthCare and its hospitals, clinics, medical groups and health plan.
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