Running is often thought of as an independent sport, but when done in a social environment it can be highly beneficial. Dr. Derek Beenfeldt, Chair of Primary Care & Urgent Care at Renown Health, is an avid runner and shares some benefits of social running.
We know the physical benefits of running like weight loss, improved cardiovascular fitness and stronger muscles, but there are also social and mental health benefits to running. Here are a few benefits you may not know about:
1. Improves Mental Health
Exercise in general has been shown to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Many health care providers may use exercise as a form of treatment before resorting to medications. Running, whether alone or with others, can improve your mood, self-esteem and cognitive function. Finding a running partner or group can lead to more friendships, another benefit of social running.
2. Keeps You Accountable & Motivated
We’ve all had the intention of getting up early to exercise before work, but then snoozed through the alarm. Teaming up to run with a buddy or group can help make running more fun and help hold you accountable when you find it hard to put on your running shoes. Social running can also help keep you motivated to run farther and faster. Conversations with your running buddy or group can distract you from thinking about “how much farther?”
3. Make New Friends
When you first start running the thought of talking to someone during your workout can seem daunting. As your fitness builds, you will be less winded and talking throughout your run won’t be as difficult. Joining a running group is a great way to make friends who share the same interests as you. If you are looking for a free running group to join in the Reno-Tahoe area, Dr. Beenfeldt recommends: The Silver State Striders, Northern Sierra Endurance Training, Reno Running Company and the Donner Party Mountain Runners.
4. Make Memories
Having a running buddy or joining a running group can lead you to try new running paths, trails and events that can create unforgettable experiences. “One highlight of my running career was running every step of the Boston Marathon with my sister last April. It was the best 26.2 miles I have spent!” said Dr. Beenfeldt. For many people who run, whether solo or with others, the health benefits are a bonus to the memories that will last a lifetime.