Reasons to Run
When my co-workers asked me to write a quick blog post about the benefits of running I thought it would be a piece of cake. My other job is coaching cross country running and track and field at Skyline High School here in Oakland so knowing a thing or two about the numerous health benefits of running and exercise (there are many) is something I pride myself on. But for some reason I just couldn’t write.
But then I attended the Team Ella Baker Center launch party for the Oakland Running Festival and it all clicked. Seeing my coworkers talk about their amazing and personally transformative experiences running at last year’s festival reminded me that possibly the best thing about running is that you can do it with a friend.
Here at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights we talk a lot about creating healthy communities that can thrive. We as individuals need to take the time to not only check in and help our neighbors but to also make time to take care of ourselves. Running or walking with friends around your neighborhood is a great way to do both of these things. Furthermore, participating in the Oakland Running Festival with Team EBC is a great way to show your support for a healthy Oakland.
So, I give you some solid reasons that some of the kids I coach told me about why they come out and run:
“Running helps cardiovascular health, which is something I need considering the fact that I frequently visit Mickey D’s.”
Running is a great form of exercise that has a lot of benefits for you. Running regularly for 30 minutes will strengthen your heart and lungs and improve blood circulation and lower your blood pressure, reducing your risk for a heart attack. Given that heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and other chronic diseases like diabetes and arthritis are growing concerns nationally, the health benefits of running can help a lot of us. And, no other exercise works your body harder. Plus, it can help you keep off a quarter-pounder or two or, better yet, lead to a healthier diet that gives you more energy then a greasy burger.
“Running teaches you to be patient.”
Working and going to school all day is exhausting. We put a lot of stress on ourselves to help us get things done but we also need to release all that before it builds up into anxiety. You need to take the time to relax and do you. Taking a quick run around the block is shown to help people relax. We need those twenty to thirty minuets to just relax and think, about our day, about our body. Regularly performing dynamic stretches before you exercise and static stretches after is not only the safe and healthy thing for your muscles but is also great for working out tension that builds up in the week.
“Running is a great way to meet people and bond with great friends.”
When I started running in high school it was to stay in shape, but the reason I stuck with it was because of my teammates. Exercise and running is tough and challenging. But it is an activity with measurable goals. It doesn’t matter how fast you are right now or if you can’t run a mile in five minuets. What matters is that you can set your own realistic goals and work towards achieving them with friends by your side. Maybe your first few weeks you only jog one or two miles, progressively add more distance to your run or walk.
One of the biggest challenges new runners face young and old is finding the support to keep up with their training. Running with a group of people and friends can give new runners the support they need. All runners, no matter how fast they are, need the support of friends to literally go the last mile or wake up at 8:00 on the weekend. That is why Team EBC will be hosting informal group Sunday runs and walks around Lake Merritt at 9:45 every Sunday through the Oakland Running Festival. Coming out to run or walk with us will be a great way to meet other Oaklanders who also want to improve their health and keep yourself motivated. Plus, you just might learn something new from some of our experienced participants.
“You should be in shape because it’s fun.”
To learn more about or sign up with Team Ella Baker Center click the links below and check the Ella’s Voice Blog for other postings on Team EBC and what makes others run.
Javier Alvarado is the Green Collar Jobs Campaign Intern at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. His other day job is coaching the amazing kids on the Skyline High School Track & Field Team here in Oakland.
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