Running exercises your body and mind, trust me

May 29, 2020

Collage created by Finn Souter with images from Pixabay

Aloki Rochelmeyer highlights the benefits of exercise, especially during lockdown

Exercise is good for you, I know it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Clichés are often overused and so sometimes hard to believe, but they often hold important truths.

According to the NHS exercise has endless physical health benefits, such as lower risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and osteoarthritis. Exercise also lowers the risk of depression by 30%.

Judging from the overwhelming positive evidence telling us to exercise, is it not clear what kind of lifestyle we need?

The NHS says the five steps to mental wellbeing are:

  • Connecting with other people
  • Being physically active
  • Learning new skills
  • Giving to others
  • Paying attention to the present moment

When you exercise you release endorphins, and other chemicals that regulate stress levels, making you feel content. This explains the euphoric post-run feeling, known as runner’s high. Who wouldn’t want to get in on that?

I run, lose track of time. It’s like meditation, but without trying to actively clear my mind

This mood-boosting, de-stressing and soul-awakening activity is perhaps the key to a healthy and happy life. I am aware that sounds incredibly cheesy but please take note.

Whilst we have all this extra time to ourselves, there is no doubt it’s important to maintain our physical and mental health; running should, in my opinion, take priority over school work.

I initially took up long distance running a few years ago at school, progressing to Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers athletics club, where I currently train twice a week. It’s fun and demanding all the while.

When I run, I lose track of time and completely enter another zone. It’s like meditation, but without trying to actively clear my mind – the hard part.

Now we are in lockdown, every few days I push myself to go for a run; this is easier said than done however.

Running has become part of my coping mechanism, very useful in these uncertain times

The benefits are real though: running has a knock on effect, igniting my productivity. It motivates me to do everything I have been relentlessly procrastinating about, for who knows how long?

I also find the quality of my sleep improves, when I have been active, and I’m more able to maintain a routine. Keeping to a routine, during lockdown, has really helped me manage my time effectively.

Before you set off for a run, begin with some stretches, see this video for some great warm ups. Then start off slow; your fitness will build up quickly, so there’s no need to go all out on your first run.

Maybe increase the duration every few days. It’s quite instinctive, how much you can manage. Overdoing it will put you off, so be mindful of your capacity. Other than that, you’re good to get going.

Running has become part of my coping mechanism, very useful in these uncertain times. So I’m advising you to put on your trainers, and get some fresh air along with a helping of vigorous cardio. It really will help lift your mood and improve your motivation.

Aloki is currently studying Psychology, Graphics and English literature at A level. She enjoys running, loves listening to music and watching documentaries to increase her understanding of the world.

Other work

Donate via PayPal

Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice.

Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.