Running is Just Exercise on the Cheap

To take a single step, the human body uses two hundred muscles; to accelerate from walking to jogging, twenty six bones, thirty three joints, one hundred twelve ligaments and an entire network of tendons, nerves and blood vessels have to work seamlessly together. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is. One thing’s for certain – our bodies are highly complex systems, built for an active lifestyle.

Regardless, a majority of us sit behind desks for at least forty hours a week. How’s that for ironic? The prolonged inactivity we’re forced to accept inspires most of us to turn to the gym for some form of exercise.

Personally, I love to run. If I had to pick between running on a treadmill or running outside, I’d pick outside any day of the week. I don’t even mind a bit of rain (it reminds me of home). I didn’t say I was a particularly good runner; I just enjoy it. Mostly because it’s cheap. As in free. You get out of the house and gym and best of all, you get to see your neighborhood.

treadmill

Yes, I mix it up with weight lifting or cross training, but my go-to, preferred method of working out is running. Aside from losing weight and promoting a heart healthy lifestyle, running also has many other benefits.

It alleviates stress. We all know the feeling. Your boss gives you an impossible task and by the time you get home, the mere mention of anything work related sends you flying off the handle. Go for a run. You can burn a few hundred calories and clear your mind. Running mellows people out. It’s an outlet for them to channel their frustrations.

Even if you aren’t stressed out, running is just plain convenient. You don’t need to spend boat loads of money on fancy gym memberships. All you need is a good pair of shoes, an iPhone (if you like listening to music), and the open road. How hard is it to step out your front door?

trail

It’s a solo or group activity. I prefer to run alone. It’s the time of day where I can reflect on my schedule and prioritize everything I need to do. It lets me strategize. I’m not a huge spur-of-the-moment type of gal. I like having a plan of attack and I live by making lists. I crave organization and when I run, I can zone out to my music and start planning for tomorrow. If you’re more of a social worker-outer, you could run with your dog or a group of friends. In fact, if you’re a novice runner, it might be good to run with friends. They’ll keep you accountable.

The learning curve is pretty shallow. You put one foot in front of the other. That’s not so bad, right? At a certain point, momentum will take over and there’ll be a small bounce in your step. Just remember, while the notion is easy enough, the execution can be your undoing. I’m talking about form here. Your arms should be at a ninety degree angle; never clench your fists; keep your chest and back muscles loose; lean slightly forward. Running is a natural movement, but if you develop poor habits, your pain may be amplified, especially if you run long distances.

marathon

Finally, it reeks of competitiveness. Have you ever run a half marathon? That’s 13.1 miles of pure torture. I’ve run two of them. I always do great until about mile ten. At that point a friend had to practically drag me across the finish line. Talk about competition though. There’s nothing worse than being passed by a 65 year old guy who could be your dad and he’s not even breaking a sweat.

So what type of worker-outer are you? Crossfit? (Yeah, I think it’s a cult too) Pilates? Yoga? P90x? Insanity? There’s a reason there’s an entire market out there for staying fit: because it’s lucrative. The good news is that there’s an alternative to all these mediums of working out and it’s running.

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