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Running: A Surprising Solution

Running+can+improve+sleep%2C+relieve+stress%2C+and+uplift+your+mood.+Graphic+by+Maya+Fu.
Running can improve sleep, relieve stress, and uplift your mood. Graphic by Maya Fu.

I need to lose weight. 

Although body dysmorphia and insecurity have undoubtedly been alleviated over the years, thanks to modern movements for plus sized models in advertisements and on the runways, that thought still plagues the minds of too many teenagers, especially girls. For too long, we were constantly surrounded by toned, bronze, size 0 models on every TV screen, every glossy magazine cover; no wonder that specific, wildly unattainable body type became the standard. I was among many that turned to running, desperate to lose weight. But over time, running began to take on an entirely different meaning that changed my life. 

I tend to be an anxious person, and an overthinker. Many times in the past, when I wanted to shut off this persistent, nagging part of my brain, I would turn towards social media as a distraction. Especially in the summer, my screen time would skyrocket, but I found that I never felt any better after spending hours on TikTok. So, in an attempt to keep my mind off of whatever I happened to be worrying about, I began taking my dog on longer walks. They also became more frequent, and I even began to walk without her, too. Those walks turned brisker, and even began to involve short periods of slow jogging. I couldn’t run very far at all in the beginning – hardly more than a mile. But it didn’t matter, because I could feel the impact that just getting outside and moving was having on my body and mind. While I was running, or even just walking, I couldn’t think about anything except the pleasant strain of my muscles and the road ahead of me. I stayed consistent while not forcing myself to run if I didn’t want to, and soon, I could run a 5k without stopping – a feat unimaginable just several weeks prior. 

There have been countless studies to prove the incredible impact that exercise in general can have on one’s mental health: according to the Mayo Clinic, “Physical activity may help bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.” It’s also important to remember that anybody, regardless of age or body type or fitness level, can be a runner. Starting extremely slowly is exactly the right thing to do. Don’t push your body past what it’s capable of, but over time, try to challenge yourself. But above all, it’s crucial to have the right mindset: running will only truly become something you enjoy when you do it for the right reasons. 

 

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About the Contributor
Maya Fu, Website Editor-in-Chief
Maya is currently in 11th grade, and this is her third year on the Emery's staff. Maya is on the varsity tennis team, does ballet, plays cello, and hosts a podcast called This Person I Met on Spotify. In her free time, she likes reading and writing. Maya's favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 version) and her favorite flavor of ice cream is cookie dough.
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