When your friends are stressing out over work, family or health problems, you should be there to support them. As a regular exerciser, you have an additional option when your life gets unpleasantly stressful or complicated: go for a run.
You know that exercise helps keep you lean and healthy, reduces blood pressure and makes you feel better, but running before you get down to the business of dealing with your work, social or other problems is not just healthy self-indulgence. It also prepares you to deal more effectively with the situations you face.
Research shows that a moderate bout of exercise boosts focus, attention and intellectual ability, especially shortly after waking. In one study high school students who exercised before their first class of the day boosted their performance by a full letter grade in that class. Moderate exercise also clears up symptoms of stress, reduces irritability and boosts mood as effectively as antidepressants for many people.
When you need to deal with a complicated work or social situation or to get on the phone with a representative of the government or a faceless corporation you could do worse than to be sharply focused, relaxed and happy, right? So, if you feel not quite ready for your day, go for a run.
Of course if you run to exhaustion, all those benefits disappear again, so calibrate the amount of exercise you do before dealing with the challenges of the day. You want to run long enough and hard to really wake yourself up but not so much that you will be tired after. For most people that will be 20-40 minutes at a very comfortable, conversational pace. Long distance runners may be able to go longer and still feel sharp after.
So, when your friends ask how you can go running “at a time like this?” tell them that is at “times like this” that you most need to go running.
Wenzel Coaching Head Coach Scott Saifer works with all levels of athletes and particularly enjoys helping those returning from health issues, injuries and other life challenges. www.wenzelcoaching.com