I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Benefits of Exercising

Those of us who exercise on a semi regular basis have heard and read about the benefits of exercise.

I was never very active and only started running regularly in my 30s by accident, like most good things that have happened in my life. Running is the only exercise I have ever done. As such, I don’t know much about the benefits of any other activity other than the one I practice. I know it’s good for me, and frankly, that’s all that matters. Of course, there is always the person who volunteers their unsolicited opinion as I am on my 9th mile on the treadmill “I used to run and if I knew then what I know now, I’d have never run a mile. It’s not good for you”. I should follow them to the local diner on Sunday mornings and remind them that the huge brownie they're stuffing in their mouths might not be good for them either but, to each its own.

Last Tuesday a student of Smith College who is working on her thesis interviewed me. Her research aims at finding a correlation between running and overcoming a serious illness. More specifically she is interested in people who have run marathons after. The student asked me why I ran through my illness…. Why not, I thought. The alternative was to lay in bed and allow the panic to overcome me. The thought of running a marathon after was the light that I followed through my darkness. But there was no scientific method or reason, I ran because I needed to get through my day.

Medicine has acknowledged that exercise stimulates the brain (I’m sure you doubt that in my case), helps reduce high blood pressure, delays aging by delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues (where are these wrinkles coming from then?) and it helps the cardiovascular system immensely but there has been no emphasis on promoting exercise for people undergoing any kind of illness. In fact, one of my doctors told me to stay away from exercising.

I do hope that one day the medical field will devote more time to researching the benefits besides the ones we already know that can be derived from exercising during treatment. Hopefully, one day three things will be prescribed to a patient for their recovery:

Faith, running and support.

All three, perfect together.