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Running for a Cause

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Do you run? About 65 million Americans have done so at least once in the last year, including about 17 million who completed at least one official timed race event. While those are big numbers, that still leaves about 250 million Americans who never went out for so much as a single jog in 2017.

True, running isn’t for everyone, and there are other great ways to get exercise. In many cases, it’s not so much what you do or even how well you do it, but that you do something (and do it regularly).

Still, if you’ve set your sights on developing a fitness routine and staying active this year, there are lots of great reasons to consider running. Here are just a few:

Health Benefits of Running

You Can Do It Anytime, Anywhere

You don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need access to expensive equipment, aside from a decent pair of running shoes and some comfy clothes. You can do it at home, at your parents’ house in Missouri, or on vacation in Florida. Wherever and whenever you are, you can head out and go!

It’s Good for Your Body

Running is about more than simply “getting fit” or losing weight. The physical benefits of running regularly are immense. Here’s just a small sampling:

  • Improved cardiovascular and lung health. This allows your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your cells more efficiently and effectively. Running can cut your risk of dying from heart disease in half.

  • Stronger joints. Contrary to popular belief, a 2013 study of nearly 100,000 runners found that running can cut your risk of knee osteoarthritis in half, and greatly reduce your risk of ankle, knee, and hip injuries. Regular (but manageable) stress on your joints can actually cause them to build strength over time.

  • Increased bone density. The mild stress of running triggers your body to provide additional essential minerals to bone, improving density, strength, and durability and making them less likely to snap or break.

  • Boosted immunity. True, the rigorous demands of a very long run (like a marathon) can temporarily suppress your immune system. But more moderate amounts of running have been shown to boost immunity to prevent or stamp out colds, flus, and minor illnesses faster.

  • Better management of chronic conditions. Running has been linked with reducing high blood pressure, improving management of diabetes (including reducing blood sugar and insulin resistance), lessening asthma symptoms, improving healthy cholesterol levels, and a lot more.

  • Weight loss. Running can break up fat cells, and for a person of average weight, running can burn 800 calories or more in an hour.

Improved Mood

It’s Good for Your Mind and Spirit

The mental benefits of running may be even more significant than the physical ones. That might be news to you if you happen to hate running (at least so far), but it’s true! Running has been linked with:

  • Improved mood. Running stimulates your brain to release hormones that improve mood, reduce stress, and even help control depression. When you’re feeling down, running may be the last thing you want to do—but once you get over that hump, the benefits begin to quickly increase, and can persist for hours or even days.

  • A sharper mind. Running boosts brain function and slows the aging process, just as it does for bones and muscles. It can improve your long and short-term memory, and there’s some evidence to suggest that it can improve dementia symptoms and reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Better sleep. It isn’t just that running makes you tired—actually that’s the wrong lesson, as going for one run once in a while doesn’t seem to have much effect on a single night’s sleep. However, establishing a regular running routine (even at relatively low intensity) can increase sleep duration and quality over time.

  • Social and community enrichment. Nothing beats running with a friend! Making running a social activity can keep you focused and accountable. Plus, like with most hobbies and activities, there is a vibrant and active community of runners. If you can’t convince a friend or family member to join you, you can link up with a local club or community, such as the Milford Road Runners, or the New Haven Road Runners near Hamden.

  • Improved self-confidence and esteem. To be honest, all the benefits we’ve already talked about alone can definitely improve your confidence and self-esteem! To that list, we’ll also add the satisfaction you get from establishing a routine, then setting and achieving your goals.

Running/Walking for a Cause

You Can Run For a Good Cause

Of course, we happen to think that supporting your own health and happiness is a plenty good cause. But you can benefit yourself and others at the same time! Runs for charity, disease research, public awareness and other great causes take place many times per year. Here are a few examples:

  • Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Races occur throughout the year and around the country, including Westport in May and Hartford in June. With more than 140 annual events, these locally organized 5ks collectively represent the world’s largest fundraiser for breast cancer.

  • Autism Speaks Walk. This non-competitive 2-3 mile walk event raises money for research into autism spectrum disorder causes and treatments, advocacy, and support for families. Events in early June are scheduled for both Waterbury and Hartford.

  • MDA Firefighter 5k. Held April 14 in Milford, this 5k Run/Walk and Kids Run benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This exciting and fun event honors Milford’s bravest, and raises money for people suffering from neuromuscular diseases. (Plus, runners 21 and up get a free drink at the Orange Ale House!)

These are just a few examples, but there are many more!

Time to Hit the Trail

Time to Hit the Trail

Wow, writing all that made us realize something—we’re late for our run! We’ll look for you out on the paths, trails, tracks, and sidewalks. And if your feet are ever bothering you or keeping you from the active life you want to live, be sure to give us a call!

Dr. Sanjay V. Patel
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Dr. Patel has over 20 years of experience in the field of podiatric medicine and podiatric surgery.
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