By Cameron Jenkins
While the sensible part of your brain might have screamed at the title of this blog post, I promise you that the non-sensible part might actually have something good to say.
Running is the R-word that many people claim to detest. In your childhood soccer days, laps around the field were meant as punishment and the back and forth down the basketball court during practice made you want to cry. Running earned a bad reputation among many back in middle school, but now that we are in college, it’s time to face the beneficial, hidden facts.
Like I said in the title, your brain does love running. It is because of “natural painkillers” called endorphins. J Kip Matthews, Ph.D, a sport and exercise physiologist explains that “endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort. They can also help bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. Endorphins are also involved in natural reward circuits related to activities such as feeding, drinking, sexual activity and maternal behavior.”
Your body produces endorphins in response to many activities, but one that will probably grant you the most is running. The “runners high” is a real thing. It is a state of euphoria with reduced anxiety and less pain.
Not only does your brain love running, but the rest of your body does, too. Exercise is medicine. There are countless scientific studies and evidence that proves how regular exercise gives benefits way beyond a pharmaceutical drug. Running specifically has shown to help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, stroke, heart disease, and much more. Add positive mental and emotional health to that list, too!
Yes, running is hard, but it can be fixed with controlled breathing and easing into it. With time the physical fitness one gains will take over and it will become second nature with benefits following. From fitness to a happy brain, what’s not to like?
So, now with this new information circling your mind, you’ll lace up those dusty shoes and go out for a run. The endorphins will be flowing and your heart will be pumping–your brain and body will thank you.