If you are looking for a way to get in your cardio and reduce stress at the same time, it’s time to run outside. Running in general, especially outdoor running, can be a great way to burn some calories and clear your mind.
Running can be everything from your cardio to your therapy. There are many days where I find myself looking forward to a long run, not because I want to burn calories, but because it's an emotional release. There is science behind what I am suggesting, believe it or not. Running literally makes you happy. It has been proven to increase happiness and fight depression and anxiety, due to the hormones released during the exercise. We’ve all heard the term “runner’s high” thrown around, and probably thought it was complete BS. In fact, while running, we actually can experience this feeling, due to the release of hormones known as endocannabinoids. And the benefits do not even stop there! Running can continue to positively affect you even after you kick off your shoes. Not only does it lift your mood, but it can also help you get a better night’s sleep and even concentrate better. A direct quote from this psychological study performed on states: “Daily Morning Running for 3 Weeks Improved Sleep and Psychological Functioning in Healthy Adolescents.” "The study found that compared to a control group, adolescents that ran experienced better sleep, less fatigue during the day, and increased concentration." Three things I think every college student would appreciate!
Although running is probably the least complicated exercise, there are certain things that must be done in order to get the best workout and not strain your muscles or hurt yourself.
The first of these is finding the right shoe. When I was on cross country and track back in highschool, at the start of every season my coach would host a post-practice pizza party at a local running shop, “Charm City Run”. Every team member was encouraged to attend and be helped into the correct shoe by an employee, who would monitor our movement while walking/running and measure our pressure points and need for support. This allowed them to set us up with the right shoe. I cannot stress enough how important proper support is when running. Improper support can lead to shin-splints, knee strain, back pain, and more. I personally have flat feet and little to no support alone. To prevent strain I run in Brooks, a shoe company that specializes in support. Other friends of mine recommend Asics, as another great and supportive shoe. Save your Nike’s for that boot camp, sadly they offer meager support when it comes to running!
Once you have your proper shoes, only two more things should be stressed before and after you run, and those are stretching and hydration.
Always stretch before you run to warm up your muscles and prevent strain, and afterwards to stretch out tightened muscles in your legs and prevent unnecessary soreness. Also hydration is key with any cardiovascular exercise because you are sweating out a lot of water.
Fairfield has a beautiful campus with many great places to run. The hill facing the library is your friend, even though it won’t feel that way when you are sprinting up it. Not only do fairfield students have a beautiful campus to run on, the surrounding suburban area is also of access. I usually run a loop off campus that is gorgeous in the summer and fall. The surrounding neighborhoods are open to explore. If you don’t want to run on campus or around it, you can always get your workout in at Fairfield beach. Running in the sand is a killer leg workout and no one can complain about a waterside view. I recommend running outside over inside, however this is not always possible. If you don’t want to hit the outdoors to run, you can always hop on a treadmill in the beautiful new RecPlex.
Overall, there are so many opportunities for Fairfield students to get their cardio fix. Lace up your shoes and run happy!