Throughout the past 14 years of life, I’ve met many people who despised running and looked down upon it as a pastime. But to me, running is an experience like no other. At times, nothing can so make me feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins as I start my run, or the sense of pride I receive when I beat a friend or rival to the finish line. Ever since my first long-distance run a few years back, I’ve adopted running as a way of life and trained almost religiously with friends and peers in middle school. I’ve even found a sports team I could take part in for my upcoming freshman year: the cross country team. I’ve never been so filled with purpose before. I, a lanky and socially awkward bookworm, have found a “real sport” that I can take part in!
Even science agrees with me on this: running is one of the most beneficial sports in the world. The website active.con states that “running strengthens bones better than other aerobic activities,” before listing a slew of other benefits, such as increased productivity, enhanced mental activity, better sleep, and a significantly reduced risk of premature death and cancer. A 2012 study in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review shows that “regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline,” The journal PLOS Medicine also showed a link between running and longer life spans.
But what sets running apart from other sports is the fact that the exercise itself can result in euphoria. According to The New York Times, the human body produces endorphins, or a feel-good chemical, while running, causing what is known as “runner’s high.” The effect of runner’s high is similar to that of mood changing drugs, and it grows stronger as the production of endorphin increases. The mood-altering effect of running is known to be extremely helpful in dealing with stress and depression. The website runnersworld.com reveals that study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise proves that only thirty minutes of walking “could instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order.”
Most interestingly, the chemical pleasure a runner experiences while in motion can be somewhat addictive. The N.Y. Times mentions that many athletes are hoping to develop a “positive addiction” to motivate them to keep running, and an article in the National Post puts emphasis on how negative addictions such as drugs and alcohol can be replaced by a “positive life-long habit.” So if you get hooked, don’t despair. Just put on your shoes, take a deep swig of water, and run.