Running as a Form of Recreation with Positive Effects on Well-Being

Written by: Prof. Matej Tušak, Ph.D. and Eva Kovač, Univ. graduate of Psychology

Monthly @life theme this time refers to running, as we will soon be witnesses at the biggest running event in Slovenia, Ljubljana's Marathon. Running is one of the most basic forms of movement, is easily accessible and has a lot of positive affects on well-being, health and fitness.

Physical activity contributes to health and quality of life. Numerous researches confirm the importance of physical activity for mental health. Researches confirm that constant participation in physical activity is associated with better mental health. People "feel better" after an activity, improve their self-confidence and self-esteem and their self-worth and self-respect increases.

Running itself is, in addition to walking, the closest and most accessible way of moving and is becoming widespread means of various forms of sporting activities, from recreational to top-level sport. Endurance running, if not excessive, can also be understood as a means to develop vital life functions of the cardiovascular and respiratory system. Awareness of the benefits of running is more and more present and prevalent, because health is becoming more valuable for the individual. Finally, success of the individual and his psychological well-being depends on his health.

Running is becoming increasingly popular recreation, which is also confirmed by the fact that each year we have more running trials in our country and the number of participants is growing. According to the Slovenian Olympic Committee, 41 recreational running events were organized in 2002, 74 events in 2006 and 101 cross-country events in 2011. Researches on sports recreational habits of Slovenians have shown that every tenth Slovenian is running. Following the popularity of recreational sports in Slovenia, running falls to sixth place after walking, swimming, biking, alpine skiing and mountaineering.

A trend of an increased number of recreational athletes in our country indicates progress in sport and recreation activities, which can be attributed to the rising level of public awareness in the field of sport. Daily chores and tasks are becoming stereotyped in the life of an individual and do not require excessive physical or intellectual effort. All this leads in a reduction of physical abilities and lower forms of motor activity and consequently reduction of mental functions. That is why running activity itself is important, as it strengthens cardiovascular system, respiratory system and skeletal muscles. Each runner knows positive effects of running on thoughts and well-being.

The usual style of modern life constantly burdens us with stress, worries, responsibilities and lack of time. We do not steel sleep to ourselves in a large extent today, but our free time suffers at the expense of extensive work and other obligations. It is therefore essential that we take time for regular recreational workout. One of the most common excuses we use is that we do not have time. This is not true, we just have to take time. It is necessary to set priorities and make time for recreation. Once recreation becomes a part of our everyday lives, we feel better, both physically and mentally.

Running should be primarily relaxation and the way to avoid stress, unhealthy lifestyle, psychosomatic illnesses and other epidemics of modern life.