Running is FUN! Think this statement is ludicrous? Or better yet, smiling sneakily in knowing silence with me? During a point in history in which we are inundated with shaming messages about being the “obese nation” as well as simultaneously being exposed to literally over 200 ads per day— many of which tell us our bodies aren’t thin enough, or buff enough, or beautiful enough—running for fun, not “punishment,” is an act of outright rebellion. And who doesn’t love rebellion?!
Long before yoga graced my life, I became a runner. I don’t mean that I’ve won tons of competitions or am even sure if I want to complete a marathon someday. I mean that I love to run. Thanks to mentors & dear friends, I learned early on that running isn’t about punishment, but rather about celebrating the amazing strength, agility, & endurance of the human body. Instead of using exercise to punish our bodies for their “imperfections,” what if we honored our bodies just as they are by expressing joy through movement? (Hey, cellulite happens to athletes too!) From Halloween costume runs to this weekend’s Color Run in St. Paul, MN, there is simply nothing quite like the adrenaline of joining 20,000 bodies is a sea of movement, laughter, & encouraging high-fives. Wacky races remind us that pushing ourselves physically can be as much about happiness as perseverance.
In celebration of running that honors our amazing bodies—regardless of weight, age, or utter buffness— here is a little inspiration to find yourself on those running paths! Grab a friend (read here “fellow rebel”) & go find your running bliss. Let’s start a coup d’état in the name of movement that celebrates our bodies in all their outrageous glory!
The Top 5 Reason to Run For Fun
1) Stay Lighthearted About Exercise:
Contrary to common knowledge, exercise should be fun! This doesn’t mean that it can’t be challenging. Ironically, running for fun means quite the opposite. Studies show that the more we enjoy what we are doing physically, the better our bodies are able to respond. When we are joyful, we release muscles tension allowing our muscles to work harder without fighting against unnecessary strain. We also breathe better, allowing ourselves to push harder cardiovascularly than if we feel angry or upset (emotions that tend to tighten our neck muscles around our windpipe, constrict our lungs, & tighten our chest). Most importantly, enjoying physical movement means we are more likely to stick with an exercise program. The equations simple, if you enjoy what you do, you’ll continue to find time to do it!
2) Adults Need to Play!:
It’s great to feel like a kid again! In fact, being playful has concrete benefits for our bodies & mind. Counter to dominant culture, play for no greater purpose than to have fun is a VERY good thing! When we partake in activities such as wacky races that allow us to tap into our playful nature, we foster creativity, relaxation, empathy, resiliency in the face of life difficulties, & renew our love for activities such as running.
3) Connect with Family & Friends:
Running for fun is a great way to spend time with loved ones. When we run together, we support each other in joyfully maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Knowing that we have friends waiting for us at the starting line encourages us to train leading up to the event. We also bond in a new way. Watching a friend or family member dodge zombies during a local Zombie Run can be quite revealing! Not to mention hilarious! Regardless of the event, having a buddy by your side can be a major factor in the quality of running fun. It can also be a great way to introduce kids & individuals newer to exercise to the joyfulness of an active lifestyle.
4) Reap the Benefits:
Just because you’re having a great time doesn’t mean your body doesn’t reap the same benefits! Here is a quick survey of what you can look forward to as a running rebel:
- boosted immune system
- improved levels of good cholesterol
- lowered blood pressure
- significantly reduced risk of heart attack & stroke
- healthy weight
- improved mood & memory (running is known to help prevent & reverse effects of depression & anxiety by raising levels of serotonin & releasing those feel-good endorphins)
- reduced risk of developing Type II Diabetes
- increased bone density, preventing osteoporosis
- increased mental acuity
- increased quality & length of life
5) Express Yourself:
Celebrate what makes you & your friends unique! Today you can easily find a plethora of hilarious, spooky, quirky, & colorful runs both locally & nationally. With the assortment of options, there is sure to be one that tickles your fancy! Here are four of my favorite runs to get the creativity flowing:
My lovely sister in a state of post-run, blue color bliss.
Celebrating my inner running-rebel after a hot, colorful run!