Tip 4: Run a Mile (or Two!)
Before you read this article, I feel the need to make a full confession. My (ahem — baby) sister has challenged me to run a half marathon with her later this year. I accepted said challenge because (1) I need to lose about 15 pounds and (2) I’m not going to let a younger sibling outdo me! (I know, that’s not very noble, but I promised you a full confession, remember?) In order to meet this goal, I’ve had to start training early — as in January 1 early. There I was, temperatures just slightly below freezing, out in paint-splattered sweat pants (the only ones I had) and a bright red toboggan cap, running.
I don’t mind telling you that I thought I was going to die. At the half-mile mark, I literally thought it was a good thing that I had brought my cellphone along, since I was certain I was going to collapse with a heart attack and would need to call 911 — or my husband. One of the two would surely come and save me, right? Of course, I didn’t suffer that heart attack, and despite the fact that I could barely move the next day, I was at it again. And again. (Sibling rivalry is a very powerful motivator!)
Here’s the deal. Now that I have a few months of training under my belt, I’m beginning to reap some benefits from all that pain and suffering. My clothes fit better. I don’t huff and puff after climbing a flight of stairs. My legs are stronger. And here’s the kicker — the running is actually boosting my brain power. It’s true. According to an article recently published in the New York Times, running long, slow distances can actually create new brain cells in adults. (The scientific word for this phenomenon is “adult neurogenesis.” Pretty cool, huh?)
Even better, my kids have joined me in these outdoor excursions, hopping on bikes or bringing scooters to our local bike trail. Along the way — I hope — they’re getting a positive message each time we venture out: It’s important to take care of your body, no matter how old you get! Running not your thing? No worries. Other forms of exercise are also great for your cardiovascular health. Remember to talk to your physician before starting any strenuous exercise routine, and then get moving! Your body — and your kids — will thank you some day!