3 Non-Physical Benefits to Running

We all know the physical benefits to running. I won’t waste your time by repeating them here. However, people who don’t run, often miss the non-physical benefits. To me, these are even more valuable than the physical ones.

Close-up of a Woman’s Running Shoe - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit, Image #12014469

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit

This week, I have been running outdoors. I have chosen to run in the heat of the day—usually when the temperatures are 90° or more. I know, I’m crazy. But I am loving it.

In addition to losing a few pounds, I have enjoyed three non-physical benefits. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but they are highly compelling to me.

  1. Running provides me with “think time.” I don’t know about you, but I am so busy these days that I rarely have time to think. Yet, I know instinctively that I really can’t accomplish anything signicant without serious reflection, dreaming, and planning. Running affords me this opportunity. Just today, I thought through the outline for a new book I want to write—and this blog post.
  2. Running provides an opportunity for personal growth. Often, I listen to audio books, podcasts, or courses when running. This has become the primary way I “read” these days. The great thing is that I find myself looking forward to running, because I am eager to get back to what I am reading. For example, I am just finishing up Fast, Effective, Copywriting by David Garfinkle. I have been pushing my running mileage just so I have more time to listen and learn!
  3. Running provides the chance to recharge. It sounds counter-intuitive, especially to non-runners, but running actually gives you more energy that it consumes. Some people think, I can’t run or walk. I just don’t have the energy. What they don’t realize is that if they would just do it, they would be more energetic for the rest of the day. Running clears your mind, improves circulation, and eliminates toxins. I never feel better than right after a good run.

I have often told my wife, Gail, “Whatever you do, please make sure I keep running. Nothing I do pays more dividends than this.” Who knew that there were so many non-physical benefits?

Question: What other non-physical benefits do you see to running (or walking)? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Anonymous

    I agree! I don’t consider myself a runner but definitely a jogger. No matter how hot it gets in Florida I find myself outside 5-6 times a week jogging to have “sanity”. My world seems clearer after a great sweat drenching jog. Thanks for sharing your love of running!

  • http://dmbaldwin.wordpress.com/ Dave Baldwin

    What a great post. Thank you Michael. I have bad knees & feet so stopped running in 1993. I do cardio workouts at home with DVD’s. I do walk periodically. When I do I enjoy those three benefits you discussed. When I’ve got Tony Horton or Shaun T yelling at me on the TV it’s hard to do any of those non-physical things that are benefits to running or walking. 
    Perhaps I should get back to at least walking periodically.

  • http://americancriminal.net Zack Clinard

    Absolutely agree o each point here! In fact, exercise itself can boost energy, improve our mood, and increase blood flow so that we THINK better and memorize more easily. Oh, did I forget to mention that it is good for our health?!?

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  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    I always do #2 when running or riding. What I’m having difficulty with is where to put my pad and pen so I can take notes. Ha!

    But I get most of my ideas each day during these times. Not sure why that is, but it may have something to do with little distraction, more oxygen, and reflection/visioneering.

    Feel withdrawal type symptoms when I don’t get out and run/ride after a couple of days. Healthy and productive time.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Mindset Lesson: Set
      in your mind to go four miles and you’ll go four miles. Set in your mind
      that you’re going to try and go over 3 miles and you’ll probably not
      make the four miles. Even though I had to stop and walk several times, I
      finally made the four miles. Mini-celebration!!!! :)

  • Timw

    Running can also make a difference in others’ lives when you run for a cause.  Marathons for Moms is simple, but incredibly powerful way to connect to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy by running in support of pro-life pregnancy help centers.  For more information on Marathons for Moms and how to support women in need, go to http://www.marathonsformoms.org .

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I understand completely some of these non-physical benefits. 

    I like to listen to stuff when I run as well, but I can’t seem to find a great pair of headphones that will stay in my ears.  Any suggestions?

  • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

    Wow did this strike a note…as the last two books I’ve read have been SPARK and BORN TO RUN.

    SPARK convinced me that cardio is God’s medicine…we were designed for it, and we aren’t getting the dosages we were meant to get.  Memory issues, lack of creativity, anxiety, depression, chronic disorders, aggression, aging…all improve with regular vigorous cardio. Our sedentary lifestyle is literally KILLING us.

    BORN TO RUN pretty much convinced me that we’re all meant to run (even incredible distances); we’re just doing it wrong…and killing ourselves with our terrible form and dietary habits.

    Do you suffer from fatigue, poor memory, lack of creativity, anxiety, depression, adhd, hormonal issues…get the green light from your doc, then GET OUT AND RUN.

  • Motivation

    I am looking forward to see more of your work.

  • Paula Lee

    I came across this blog while searching for comments on runners with knee problems.  I find running to be socially engaging and mentally stimulating.  I run marathons so on Saturdays we run at least 10 and up to 22 miles when we’re close to a marathon.  There are about 5 of us ladies, all Christians, and we have done life together during our long runs. Each of us has a different story and each week,  we come away richer, for having been together.  We usually pick a “destination” marathon each year and have a wonderful time enjoying another city while we hang another marathon medal around our necks. I’ve met more people running marathons, than just about anything I have done, other than working my full-time job.  I’m so glad to have found this  blog, for both professional and personal reasons.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks—and welcome!

  • Mdorsey

    I run 3 – 8 miles (or more) 5 – 6 days a week. I started running years ago and stopped. Last spring I began running again as I grieved over the loss of my 12 yr. old son, Andrew.
    I’ll run my second 1/2 marathon in January 2012 and am training now. Fortunately I live near the beach – a gorgeous backdrop for a long distance run.
    I’m working on my first eBook: Run, Pray, Breathe – Go the Distance in Prayer
    Running gives me time to pray, think and BREATHE.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725470037 Annette Wagnon Geffert

    Another counter-intuitive benefit to running (or walking in my case) is the stress relief. Anxiety and stress has an outlet. My husband just ran the Chicago marathon yesterday, and he is a very busy executive overseeing three very different businesses. It seems the more stress he has, the more running he fits into his busy schedule. 

    Thanks for your blog, Michael. I’ve enjoyed reading it the last few weeks, after someone recommended it on another blog about productivity. 

  • http://twitter.com/andersencarol Carol Andersen

    Great post!  I completely agree – running empowers me.  When I run consistently, I feel physically and emotionally strong plus my high-energy dog gets exercise.  My bonus is my “run-therapy” – a weekly longer run with a therapist-friend.  As we run, we talk through life challenges and issues, mutually benefiting from the physical and mental exercise.

  • http://insearchofwaterfalls.com Raj Paulus

    When I read your post, I was reminded of the triathalon I completed two years ago. I trained by running almost daily and my favorite part of running was the chance to listen to music. Unfortunately, I have a heel spur that refuses to heal now [orthotics and all :( ]and although I continue to work out three times a week at minimum, my running days are on the back-burner. Hope I can return to it someday.  http://www.insearchofwaterfalls.com/2011/10/whats-on-your-bucket-list.html  
    Enjoy my triathalon story at your leisure! -Raj

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  • Tim Connolly

    Each time I run I put a win in my column. I have never finished a run and said”My I wish I hadn’t done that”. I marvel at how everything  fits and works together to propel me at speed over my trails and I feel His pleasure that I am enjoying something He made and I thank Him each time I run.
    I have stopped logging miles after reading Born to Run. I am set on a course to make running lifelong. Now I might tell you I ran for 2 hours or 1 hour but I don’t track miles anymore.

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