I was 13 when I first clued into the brain boost I got after a run. I grew up a devoted ballet dancer, played halfback in my local rec soccer league and spent many a Saturday gallivant-ing around the neighborhood with my friends, but those forms of exercise all felt different.
Those were about learning discipline or how to be a team player or keeping up with my crew—the end goal wasn’t about helping me clear my head, improve my focus or better communicate my views.
But that all changed freshman year of high school when I tried out for cross country.
I threw up on the first day of practice (it was a sweltering August morning), but I went back the second day. And the day after that. Running became something that I did just for me.
I loved the feeling of being alone with my thoughts. Fears about making new friends and starting a new school seemed to take up less of my brain space after a run. Problems or drama I encountered seemed to work themselves out, too—a solution would always present itself after 30 minutes on the trail. Running became my therapy.
We know working out has major benefits for your body, from strengthening your muscles and bones to reducing your risk for chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart disease.
But it also has big benefits for your mental health. A wealth of studies show that exercise can alleviate anxiety and depression. And while your brain isn’t a muscle, it can get flexed through fitness in similar ways. Ready to change the way you look at working out? It’s all about finding your why….
FIND YOUR WHY:
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