Running: Effects on the Psychological and Physiological
That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So, I ran to the end of the road, and when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason, I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured since I've gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going. When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I went. My mama always said you got to put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that's what my running was all about. I had run for three years, two months, 14 days, and 16 hours. (“Forrest Gump 1994”)
This idea of running demonstrated in the movie Forrest Gump spread a craze in the 1970s United States capturing the attention of many Americans. Since then, running has become the sixth most popular form of physical exercise evident in countless road races and marathons occurring each year throughout America (Satalkar). The public’s interest in physical exercise, and running/jogging in particular, has been a growing phenomenon. With its popularity, there has been a rising field in the research of the physiological and psychological benefits of running. This paper will outline and examine the various ways running aids not only in increasing overall health, but also increasing weight loss, stress relief, disease prevention, longevity, and mental well-being. Running has a significant impact on weight loss. There are numerous studies done on the effects of different amounts of exercise training to body weight and body composition. One particular study by Slentz, spanning over an eight-month exercise program, clearly demonstrates that even without changes in dietary intake, aerobic exercise such as running or jogging affected participants’ body (31). There is a clear dose-response relationship with the increase in the amount of exercise resulting in decrease in the amount of weight loss, body composition, and measures of central adiposity (Slentz 37). Overweight individuals in Slentz’s study who exercised a minimal level, as low as jogging 6 miles weekly, decreased their weight (38). Resulting data revealed a reversing effect of the non exercising control group for participants exercising a modest amount regularly. More importantly, reducing central body fat reduced total fat, which leads to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension (Slentz 39). Weight gain associated with aging can be prevented with even moderately intense physical activities, such as jogging, if it is regular and long-term. Littman, Kristal, and White found the following results in their 10 year study of weight change in middle-aged men and women: increasing hours and sessions per week of high-intensity, moderate-intensity, and low-intensity activities over a 10 year period were inversely related to weight gain after age 45; associations were stronger for women than for men and for overweight individuals than normal weight individuals; obese women and men who participated in 75–100 min per week of fast walking gained 5 and 9 pound less than non-walkers, respectively; jogging, aerobics, and fast cycling were associated with weight gain reduction in most sex and age groups, while slow walking, swimming, and weight lifting were not (524). These data indicate that activities such as walking, aerobics, or running performed on a regular basis and consistently over a long time period will result in a considerable relative decrease in the weight gain of middle-aged adults (Littman, Kristal, and White 531). The idea...
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