Every fitness magazine will tell you that daily exercise is the best medicine.
Weight loss, low blood pressure, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease are but the tip of the myriad of benefits. Research shows that running reduces anxiety and stress and calms your emotions.
Being out there, just you and the road, is therapeutic. It’s being in sync with oneself, it’s peaceful, it’s prayer from within, and at times, it’s ecstasy. I don’t mean to imply that these moments of delight make every run easy, but I can attest to the benefits to the mind and soul.
Running has been my companion in my doggiest days. It was my aid when I fought an illness. It gave me the strength-- more mental than physical-- to go on. During those days, when getting up and lacing the sneakers was difficult, running provided the calm I needed. It has not made life better, nor adversities less, but it certainly has made difficulties more tolerable. If nothing else, running has provided a pause before reacting, and has given me time to think before making a decision.
Let’s face it, if you had a fight with your partner, you won’t love them more after a run, but you’ll be less likely to kill him or her!
There are many other benefits. Just ask Enrique Murillo, addiction counselor. Thirty-four years ago Enrique went for his first run two months after having had his last drink. Alcoholics Anonymous had helped him stop, but he needed a resource to keep him from relapsing. He had to deal with the newly found sense of reality he faced without alcohol, and running was the healthy habit he needed. “It provided the axis for my recovery,” he says.
It doesn’t just happen, though. Murillo stresses that you must embrace it, form the commitment, develop the engagement. Make it a habit that becomes part of yourself. Jesse Bailey, one of the clients Enrique counseled in the RECAP Center in Middletown where he works, agrees. Four years clean, he credits running with the mental strength needed during his struggle. “It was the only time I felt good that first year.”
Enrique is documenting his findings. He hopes to prove that of the dozen addicts he has counseled, those who embraced running or walking have remained sober longer. His goal is to demonstrate that an exercise program is an essential part of the recovery phase.
Those who are looking to make a change in their life physically and mentally, start by going for a walk, a jog, sign up for a 5K, and feel the calm and energy flow. Self-prescribe with a dosage of the best medicine there is.