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Your legs are screaming, you feet are blistered, and your back is drenched in sweat. Why, you ask, would you willingly put yourself in this position?

When I think back to where I started, it’s hard to believe that 5k and 10k marathons are now my idea of a great day. I’ve been running for years, and I can see the benefits in almost every aspect of my life.

Run Your way to a Great Day

Nothing lifts a dark mood like getting moving. It can be the perfect thing to break you out of a funk and turn your day around. It’s also an incredible stress-reliever! All that tension that builds up throughout your day is terrible for your health, both mental and physical. Luckily, good, regular exercise can burn through the stress and leave you feel exhausted but refreshed. Since I started running regularly, I’ve noticed that my baseline mood is higher. The fresh air and exercise do wonders for your overall happiness, and I can even point to the biological basis for my own experience. Running releases endorphins and other hormones that naturally lift your mood ands make you feel great. They’re not kidding when they talk about “runner’s high!”

Sweet Dreams

Do you ever lie awake at night completely exhausted but unable to fall asleep? Or do you wake up in the night and wait for the alarm? It can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention difficult to work through all the yawning the next day. Turns out, one of the best ways to beat insomnia and get a good night’s rest is to exercise during the day. Even a little bit of activity can make a huge difference, especially if, like most of us, you’re otherwise locked into a cycle of a sedentary lifestyle at work.

A Productive Break

When I get back from a great run, I feel motivated by my progress. It’s empowering to watch yourself get stronger and faster every day, and that feeling colors everything else you do. That burst of activity can leave you feeling energized and productive all day, creating a fantastic cycle of accomplishment! It’s also a great way to clear your mind and get new inspiration when you’re feeling a creative block. Sometimes the best route to critical thinking is to take a stimulating break.

Feel Great, Inside and Out

It hardly needs to be said, but running regularly is great for your health. Hitting the track helps promote healthy cartilage and strong joints, as well as promoting cardiovascular and lung health. Because of the vigorous cardiovascular activity, runners experience lower rates of heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.

Be Part of Something Meaningful

What’s better than taking care of yourself and feeling great? Doing those things while helping someone else! There are many opportunities to run for charity. Give back and participate in a cause you believe in while motivating yourself to live better as well.