Run for Your Life

Missoula runners.  They are everywhere.  On Blue Mountain, on the river trail, downtown…usually followed by a dog that looks like he just entered canine nirvana.  What are they doing?  Why do they run?   Isn’t it painful, tedious, and exhausting?

Why are so many Missoulians running?   Most runners will tell you it is for their physical health.  Everyone knows that running will keep your heart healthy and strong for many, many years.  It prevents and fights the early stages of dangerous diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer and high blood pressure.  But let’s scratch the surface a little and find out why these oddities of nature really put on those running shoes and shorts (yes, even in the snow) at dawn.

First, it looks good.   The popular dating sites will all admit that if your profile reveals you are a runner, you’ll get more hits…..lots more.   It’s just attractive to be that committed to anything, much less your own physical being.  I know, I know the neighbors SAY they hate that running nut next door, but it’s jealousy.

Just look at a runner’s weight. This is the reason that 60 percent of runners start running.  With the exception of cross country skiing, running burns more calories per minute than any other form of cardio exercise.  A 220 pound person running an eight-minute mile burns 150 calories.  Add that up over a month’s time and without even so much as a call to Weight Watchers, you’ve lost five pounds.  Run this same amount every other day and you have a prescription for maintaining a consistently even weight for life.

Second, it keeps you young.  There is a fountain of youth, and it’s running. Running has been proven to fight the aging process.  You can’t help but notice the glow. Hey here’s a secret for you.  You know those expensive clinics in Mexico (illegal here) where celebrities go to get injections of human growth hormone to keep them looking young?  Yup.  Running on a regular basis has been proven to promote human growth hormone.  Running prevents muscle and bone loss that often occur with age.  Our bones are made to accommodate the demands placed upon them.  Sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser allows our bones to grow weaker, but by running regularly our skeleton gets the demand it needs to stay healthy.

Third, running makes you happy.  When you run hormones known as endorphins are released in your body that create a sense of euphoria that is also known as “runner’s high”.  Now is it making sense why we have so many runners in Missoula?  According to Mayo Clinic, runners are less likely to get stressed in life.  Running in the morning seems to be particularly good for making the whole day look good.  Running can also ease symptoms of depression and anxiety if you perform it regularly.  Seasonal Affective Disorder has much less impact on runners.  It evens improves sex (not kidding).

And fourth, running makes you smart.  Want to ace the LSAT’s or MCAT’s?   A study by the Nihon Fukushi University in Japan found that jogging helped to increase mental sharpness, so if you are getting ready for an exam , run regularly for the 2 months before the test. Recent research shows that running is linked to the growth of brain cells and can decrease memory loss in elderly people and may delay the onset of some neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Now you know why Missoulians run.  If you have been “saving your joints” by not running, you’ve just been busted by the latest research.  Running does not kill your joints.  Recent research shows the exact same rate of osteoarthritis in runners and non-runners alike. Running makes you look good, gives you youth, makes you smart and happy.  What are you waiting for?

Post by guest author, Mary Ellen Doty FNP, Community Medical Center

Community Medical Center
2827 Fort Missoula Road
(406) 728-4100