How running can boost wellbeing, support decision making and give you that extra zest for life

I hate gyms.  There I’ve said it! I don’t know what it is, maybe I’ve just not found ‘the one’, but I can’t say I’ve not tried. I don’t know if it’s the heat, the waiting for machines, the hassle, or just the music, yeah it’s probably the music!, but whatever it is, I just can’t and never have been able to enjoy them.

At the same time however, I respect those that do have the discipline and actually seem to enjoy the experience, and I also totally appreciate the fact that exercise in general can boost our wellbeing and mental health. Research has found that exercise can be as effective as any kind of pill or psychological therapy when it comes to reducing stress or anxiety, it can also help you develop a mastery focus.

This for me is where running has played a huge part in my life for the last 10 years or so. Without going into the stereotypical ‘man gets to his mid 30’s and decides to start running’ narrative (although true) this has given me a clear sense of purpose career wise and helped me focus on choices in life.

I’m also conscious of becoming a running bore (I may be there already!), but I’m amazed how many times the topic of running or exercise in general comes up when discussing personal development plans with clients or even as part of large scale team events that we often deliver at Zest.

With this in mind, I thought it best to keep this punchy and to the point.  I’ve listed 5 good reasons and tips why you should at the very least consider sticking your trainers on and hitting the streets.  It’s true that it is just as easy to write 5 good reasons not to do this, but let’s keep the narrative positive!…

Find your perfect partner – running with someone else can be motivational, they can help us work harder, run smarter and even make our efforts feel easier! – There’s also the fact that making a commitment to someone else means you are more likely to get out and do it!

Set yourself a challenge of getting out three to five times a week. Aerobic exercise for at least 20-30 minutes is said release endorphins and relieve stress or anxiety and impact mindset. This can give you just the focus you need to make effective decisions.

Not literally, unless you are comfortable with that and it makes you happy! Setting goals and having targets can keep us on track, but try at least one run tech-free. This can help mindfulness and help you stay calm.

Try a strategic run.  As opposed to giving your brain a break with a run, flip it on its head and use the time to crack a problem, this is often when we have our best ideas, away from a PC, notepad or phone. This can also help when preparing a team brief, training session or presentation.

If you never get time to listen to a podcast try a run with headphones, this can keep your mind off the numbers and keep your interest high and your runs strong.

So that’s it, nothing to it really is there?  Lots of research can be found online that details more around cognitive abilities and the research around the benefits of running and how they directly link to improved quality of life, but if it’s not for you, hopefully this gets you thinking about how and where you get your own energy from.

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