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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  • Amy

    Running also helps me build better relationships because it gives me the time to think through what needs to be said and how to say it, as well as helping me process emotions in a healthy way. It also great prayer time. I hope I will always have the physical ability to run. It makes me a better person.

    • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

      Great reasons to run, I agree with the relational benefits. I’m a walker, not runner, but I value the time, when I’m able, to think through situations I’m facing as well.

      • Mike

        Michael, GREAT post. I want to thank you for suggesting listening to audio books when running in a blog post you did 3 or 4 years ago.  I’ve been listening to audio books ever since then when running, and have learned/grown so much. I’m a new parent, so now listening to parenting audio books – currently ScreamFree Parenting… :) Thanks again!

        • Jmhardy97


          I listen to audio books also. A great way to learn and grow. I just finished Howard Schultz’s book.


    • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

      Agreed. There are many things to think about while running, and we can’t get distracted by most technologies since we aren’t sitting at a computer!

    • Jmhardy97

      I agree amy. I really does give you time to relax and think.


  • Charissa Steyn

    I LOVE LOVE running!! I agree with everything you said, also…It physically teaches me the spiritual concept of perseverance! It makes me happy- taking care of my body, getting strong. It’s a great time to do spiritual warfare too! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I once heard Pat Williams, General Manager for the Orlando Magic tell his daughter, “We run in order to practice not quitting.”

      • Jmhardy97

        Great quote! I am adding that to my quote list.


  • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

    I usually don’t run; I like walking. One non-physical benefit to walking is that I tend to enjoy more beautiful things around me which I don’t do when driving through the same way. I enjoy the greenery, chirping of birds, and the lovely surroundings!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Walking is great.

    • Lkfischer

      When I am not listening to podcasts or music,  I love the sounds of nature.  My favorite is a stream that runs along side the bike path.  I am also relaxed when running.  There is no pressure to be somewhere else at that time and I sleep very well the nights I run.

      • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

        So true!

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    I’m SO with you on this. I do much of my daily planning when I’m on my 2-4 mile jog in the morning, which I’m up to at least 4 times per week. Being in shape is an added bonus.

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    I’ve not tried listening to audio books or podcasts while running (mostly music for me, and occasionally silence), but that’s a great way to do two things I love at one time. I’ll try it.  Another non-physical benefit is just seeing and appreciating creation – a sunrise, a great old tree or a friendly dog. Makes me feel grateful to be alive and able to move about.  Not sure about the middle of the day – I live a little further south than Franklin.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I can’t recommend middle of the day. I’m a little crazy.

      • http://twitter.com/tellmisty Misty Williams

        Yeah, maybe a little … ;-) I’ve tried in middle of the day, and I literally feel like my Life Force is being sucked from my body.  A running friend told me that running in the heat makes you stronger; I start getting light-headed and dizzy, though. Not sure the “humidity” variable was intended in his assertion?  Maybe there is some trick to it?  Nashville humidity is killer … I’d love to be able to do it, but I feel like I’m flat not being safe.  Are you doing something that makes it a bit more bearable?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Not really, other than embracing it. I know, I am a little weird. ;-)

    • Jmhardy97

      It is to hot in the summer to run in the middle of the day, but if it works for you, I would do It.


  • Juan

    So true, running makes me think and drive myselfh to reach a minset goal. I Love running.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Me, too! (Oh, I already said that!)

  • Karl

    Well for me its walking, not a stroll as may come to mind. :)   I tried the audio book thing thinking this would be a great way to make use of my time, but I have found my mind is way to active to concentrate.  God keeps bringing things to mind that have to be dealt with.  Be it personal relationships, to personal growth, to a friend, that just out of the blue, came to mind not knowing previously that they need encouragement and prayer.  So it’s definitely a time with God.  Time goes by so fast.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I almost mentioned prayer as a fourth benefit. I’m glad you brought it up. Sometimes my mind is too active to listen to a book, too.

      • Anonymous

        Prayer is a great one. It’s something I do as I run or walk. Most of the time I pray or think while running. When I’m with my wife though I spend time talking with her. It’s a way for us to connect and talk. 

  • http://www.lifebeyondsport.com Stephanie

    I enjoy walking early in the morning before the neighborhood wakes up. Sometimes I use that time to listen to worship music but lately I have left my iPod at home and love the silence. I pray, review memorization verses or just enjoy the quiet. It’s a peaceful start to my day.

  • Chad3041

    It gives me clarity. When facing a stressful situation at work or in my personal life, running allows me time to clear out the bad. I find that tough decisions have clearer solutions after a long run.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Clarity is another great benefit.

  • http://about.me/RobertPop RobertPop

    Isn’t the last benefit a physical one? :)

    Anyway, as Amy said, I like to run because it also improves my relationships, because sometimes I choose to run with others and we develop our friendship by doing this together.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Kind of. I think it as much psychological as anything.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    I think you summed it up well. I need to run again. Like. Really need to. I need the energy (as a mother of 5!) and thought clarity.

    I began running several years (4?) back and got my husband hooked on it to. But I’ve since gotten away from it (while my husband still seeks to run).

    One major thing from holding me back is having to run alone. Not so sure it’s totally safe around here.

  • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

    I’m a new runner and already growing addicted — in a non-worrisome-healthy way. Running has become a spiritual metaphor for me. While hitting the pavement, listening to my favorite praise jams, I’ll say to myself, “In Him, I can run this faith-race. I’m not giving up. I’m pressing on towards that ultimate prize.” It inspires me to keep on.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    I typically run in the morning.  My morning runs today and yesterday have been brutal thanks to the heat and humidity that continue to blanket the northeast.  I have found that running allows me to get my day started on the right foot.  I feel more energized and better prepared for my day when I start it with a run.  My job involves a lot of sitting at my desk and in meetings, so my run is also critical to keeping me fit.

    • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

      The heat and humidity has been hard lately.  It takes more out of you.

      Keep it up!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      “My job involves a lot of sitting at my desk and in meetings, so my run is also critical to keeping me fit.” — I am with you in the same boat Jon!

    • http://bschebs.com Bschebs

      I tried the morning runs, but it is just too early for me.  I have to be at work at 6am, but I have started running just before dinner in the evenings.  I will prepare everything then if it cooks longer than 40 minutes I will throw it in the oven and then go.  Its a great way for me to work out all the stiffness from sitting at my desk all day at work.

  • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

    I love running!   Another benefit is it’s a good way to “de-stress.”

    I have a playlist that I listen to every morning when I’m running.  The songs focus on God and His glory (Be Thou My Vision, Above All Else).  It’s a great reminder as I start my day.

    (Running my first 5k next Saturday.)

    • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

      It helps me de-stress as well. Hope it goes well!

    • http://bschebs.com Bschebs

      Best of Luck to you in your first 5k.  I am doing a 5k Sept 10th. It will be my first one in over 12 years.

      • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

        @Dylan_Dodson Thanks.  @Bschebs.  I hope your 5k goes well, too.

  • Jennifer@SurprisingJoy

    I’ve finally made exercise a priority, and I feel at least 10 years younger than I did six months ago. The extra energy makes me a better mom. I’m less anxious, tired, and irritable. Having three boys, I need all the help I can get! Here is my current podcast list: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/sermonlist/13. Thanks for sharing, Mike!

  • http://j.hn/ John Dyer

    Philosopher Albert Borgmann calls running a “focal thing” that helps counteract the “device paradigm” of technology. We can have almost anything at the press of a button (water, heat, transportation), but when we do something physical that we don’t need to do (like running) it restores something human that technology, for all its benefits, tends to hide.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Really, really great insight. I like that. My world revolves around devices, so that is probably why I like running so much.

  • http://twitter.com/SusieMM413 Susie Cantrell

    Great Motivation Michael. Thanks. 
    My son is a runner so I have seen your points ‘run out in front of  me’. ;) Though I cannot physically run, I am motivated to move more. I do get a good feeling after moving & can relate to more energy afterwards. If you can run…I Encourage you to do it…don’t take it for granted! Have a JOY-Full Day!
    Susie :)

  • Jack Lynady

    “When I run I feel His pleasure” – Chariots of Fire

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1317338706 Stacie Nelson

    I’ve read in recent issues of Running Times and Runner’s World that running in the heat actually improves your running when it’s cooler out!  I’m not quite to that point…I’ll have to stick to the treadmill, because these 105 degree Kansas days are getting to me!

    As a stay-at-home mom with three little kids, running is an actual break for me!  Like you, I listen to all kinds of podcasts –but I also listen to MY music (not the kiddie stuff)!  I also love that it sets a great example for my little girls.  When I trained for my first 1/2 marathon (which was in Nashville, too), every day the girls would ask me when I was going running.  I want them to grow up active — and see that taking care of yourself physically has great benefits!

  • Amandablogs79

    I am a newbie runner, but I already love it. It’s such a great stress relivever! As a working mom and college student, I have a lot on my plate, and running let’s me unwind and set aside, just for a little while, all the demands I have.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I get some good ideas while I run. Though I run on alternate days, I am intending to run on a daily basis in the morning. Personally, running is a great stress buster for me.

  • http://BrentFielder.com Brent Fielder

     As you mentioned “think time” I agree whole heartedly.  I use my running time as a chance to pray and reflect by spending time with the Lord.  

    I have tried podcasts for Personal Development time, but they seem to slow me down a bit.

  • Anonymous

    Amen to this post, Michael. Running is like sleep to me now. I feel like I need it. It re-fuels every part about me, gives me energy, clarity, and I connect with God at a much deeper level everytime. It is a spiritual part of my life for sure.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Running is a great Goal Setting activity. If you start running 3 or 4 times a week, you’ll find that running becomes easier and your distances become longer. I like to encourage new runners to sign up for a 5k run in their area. This gives you a goal to shoot for, an incentive to run everyday, and an awesome sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line. There are lots of training plans online to get you started.

    Once you have done a few 5k’s, you can move the training up to work towards a half marathon or sprint triathlon. I can’t tell you the joy of crossing the finish line of a triathlon for the first time. It is awesome! It also helps you set and keep other goals in your life.

    I have you to thank, Michael, for getting me running. It was really hard at first, but now it is part of my regular routine. For new people, just take it slow at first, add some intervals, and keep at it. Before you know it, you’ll be crossing the finish line of your first race.

  • http://www.motherhoodonadime.com Stacie Nelson

    I actually read in recent issues of Running Times and Runner’s World that running in the heat can improve your running in cooler weather, too!  I’m not quite ready for that though…I’ll have to stick to the treadmill!  These 110 degree Kansas days are too much for me lately.
    As a stay-at-home mom of three little ones, running gives me an actual break.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my little girls, but sometimes I don’t want to hear fighting or help someone in the bathroom or the myriad of other things I do as a mom!  I just need a break, and running provides that physical time away!
    I also love that I’m setting a great example.  While I was training for my first 1/2 marathon (in Nashville, too), the girls would ask me every day when I was going running.  And they would run their own “half-mile” marathons around the house (that’s what they called them)!

  • http://www.motherhoodonadime.com Stacie Nelson

    I actually read in recent issues of Running Times and Runner’s World that running in the heat can improve your running in cooler weather, too!  I’m not quite ready for that though…I’ll have to stick to the treadmill!  These 110 degree Kansas days are too much for me lately.
    As a stay-at-home mom of three little ones, running gives me an actual break.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my little girls, but sometimes I don’t want to hear fighting or help someone in the bathroom or the myriad of other things I do as a mom!  I just need a break, and running provides that physical time away!
    I also love that I’m setting a great example.  While I was training for my first 1/2 marathon (in Nashville, too), the girls would ask me every day when I was going running.  And they would run their own “half-mile” marathons around the house (that’s what they called them)!

  • http://tommylane.net tommylane

    I usually don’t run but ride a bicycle about 16-20 miles a day.  The non-physical benefits for me are clarity of mind, elevated mood and time to process things. I also walk a lot. One day I will try my feet at running. I also find time during my rides to talk to God and have him help me lead my life.

    Are you still running with the Vibram Five Finger shoes or did you go back to regular running shoes?

  • Jaima

    I am a runner as well. But stopped for a while, trying to get back to it! I love the results, I love the thinking part….ideas come to me when I run! It’s great.

  • Anonymous

    As soon as I saw the title of this post I wondered, “Did he think these up during a run?” 

    I have a playlist set up for my runs but maybe it’s time I tried learning (i.e. listening to podcasts, or books). I’m willing to give it a try!

    • Anonymous

      Oh, and – the other non-physical benefit is that I always get inspired by the landscapes of others. As the seasons change, I see what’s getting planted in the shade or sun, and how the plants and flowers fare in their respective locations. 

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Until I became sick with a chronic illness I was walking 3-5 miles a day. I loved it! For a mom it’s the perfect way to leave behind the constant demands of a family and home. It was a wonderful way to recalibrate my heart, pray, listen to God, sort through problems and return refreshed to the dishes and little people. Sometimes I would take my camera with me and as I cooled down snap a few shots of nature that had grabbed my attention. I felt like it boosted my creativity. I walk less frequently, my illness is affected by the heat. But when I can I grab my camera and get  moving.

  • Alan Cornett

    I read this in bed this morning after driving 11 hours yesterday. So I rolled out of bed and did 2.5 miles. I’m bouncing back from an injury but have Warrior Dash in a week. It felt great to be out.

  • http://www.blakethompson.net Blake

    I tend to run off an on. Usually off. But I’ve started running more this summer in prep for a possible half marathon. I’ve about gotten to the place where running is enjoyable instead of a chore. I need to take my earbuds out some and quit checking my tracking app/stats and just enjoy the road. But even when a run isn’t so enjoyable out on the road, I’m always glad I did it afterwards.

    Oh, and check out http://www.reluctantrunners.com/ too. These guys are motivating people to get out and run more too. 

  • Tom Gavlin Jr

    I just started getting back to running also.  Love all of the benefits it gives me.

  • katty b

    Wow…if a book on copywriting can motivate you that much, think of what a guide to punctuation could do!

  • http://daddybydefault.com Craig Grella

    I get to spend more time with my daughter: I push her in the stroller and she loves the ride. And from what I understand, running increases oxygen flow to the brain which makes us smarter.  I’m not entirely sure I’ve experienced that second benefit yet. :)

  • Anonymous

    I love to run.  Unfortunately, it seems that I continually battle knee and ankle injuries no matter how slowly I increase my mileage.  I still get a lot of the mental benefits by walking and/or yard work.

    • http://twitter.com/tellmisty Misty Williams

      Karl, I had a lot of knee and ankle issues, too … all corrected when I worked on my FORM!  I was surprised that my form could create such painful issues.  Check out Chi Running and the POSE Running Method, both great resources.  You can watch videos on YouTube that demonstrate the proper form.  It saved me!  A side benefit was it immediately made me FASTER, and I had more endurance on the hills (a LOT more).  Good luck!

      • Anonymous

        Thanks. I’ll look into it.

    • http://bschebs.com Bschebs

      @KarlMealor:disqus I battled knee and back injuries for years until I switched to a Pair of Vibram Five Fingers. And that was just walking.  I am not training for a 5k and my knees and back feel amazing from walking/running in my VFF’s

      • Anonymous

        They look amazing. I’m seriously thinking about getting a pair. Thanks.

  • http://rumorsofglory.net/blog/ Lucille Zimmerman

    I agree so much with the benefits you listed Michael. Running is all about letting my mind go to a space where I can think things through, and come up with my very best ideas. 

    Sometimes I listen to podcasts of sermons or the latest research in psychology. Running helps release anxiety and  fills me with endorphins that give me a great sense of well-being. I am surrounded by nature. This matters because beauty is high on my list of what is important to me. 

    Running is such a great form of self-care. 

    In fact, exercise is at the top of my list of recommendations for the depressed clients I work with. 

    • http://rumorsofglory.net/blog/ Lucille

      P.S. That offer to run the Bolder Boulder with me still stands :-)

  • http://twitter.com/JohnMcGee John McGee

    One of the reasons I run is because I know that by the time I get back home I’ll have at least one new creative idea for my family or job. I get excited as I lace up my shoes because I look forward to seeing what will “pop” into my head.

  • Kelli James

    Definitely 3 of my favorite reasons to run. Thanks for the reminder. I needed that!

  • http://mikepkennedy.com/ Mike P. Kennedy

    Michael, thanks for your insightful posts on running. They have helped me decide to take up running myself. I’m taking it slow with this heat wave, but I’m excited get into the habit.

    • http://twitter.com/tellmisty Misty Williams

      Sign up for a race, Mike. :)  There is nothing like the energy of race day … amazing!  Welcome to running!

  • Anonymous

    I have found running has really helped me think. It allows me to work my mind and body. Great post. 

  • http://Busyness.com Dr. Brad Semp

    Michael – Bingo, bingo, and bingo.  For me personally, running or working out is my #1 period for innovation and idea generation.  I find it crazy the amount of ideas that come to mind for me while working out.

    To your last point…..in my teaching area of “Action Management”…. I share how every action that we take has one of the following consequences:  Intended, Unintended, or Unknown

    Running / working out is an excellent example of how folks can engage in intended actions and produce powerful results on a daily basis (and stay committed to taking that action).  Here’s how it works:

    Most people intend to engage in running or exercise to lose or maintain weight.  As a result, we start out with this as our primary intention.  However, when engaging in an action like running we quickly realize an unintended but powerful consequence ==> in this case generating additional energy.

    At that point, we shift psychologically in our reasons for taking that particular action.  What was previously an unintended consequence now shifts to a primary intention for taking that particular action.  As you point out, you have several intentions for running but you now make sure that you perform this action consistently (and that Gail keeps you accountable) because you KNOW that it will increase your energy levels for the day.  I love it!

    Great post for a Saturday morning!  :)  Have an awesome weekend.

    BTW – I’ve created a growing circle on Google+ called “Busy People” where we are discussing Action Management, busyness, living an Unbusy Lifestyle, and more.  :)  Ping me on G+, Mike!  I’d love to add you to this circle!

  • Steve Chaparro

    I agree with all three points.  I have found the same to be true in my running.  I have been a little lax lately but you have inspired me to restart.  I ran this morning listing to Gabe Lyons’, “The Next Christians”.  Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Right2mike

    According to “Spark” running is like Miracle Grow for your brain.  Running keeps me mentally fit!

  • Dana Byers

    I’m training for my first half marathon with a friend. We’re getting to know each other really well, and I can run longer distances with her than I would on my own. It’s also therapeutic talking with her in the mornings.

  • Kristine

    Great post, and I agree with all that you said! I just started running this past week. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it with my bad knees, but it’s happening! Not running very much yet, but I’m building up, and loving it. I love that it gives me time to listen to music and often it’s worship music which leads to prayer. And I especially like all the thinking time (or time to not think, if I don’t want to!).

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, thanks for the encouragement… it’s been a while since I’ve been running consistently.  I agree that running actually gives you MORE energy, instead of sapping you of it.  I miss that.

  • http://toppup.com Russ Pond

    I love running as well. It really clears my head. An early run in the morning gives me so much energy throughout the rest of the day. I’ve also started biking regularly as well. It’s a bit easier on my 46-year old body, but both running and biking are part of my daily routine now.

    One of the most amazing benefits to running is sleep. I have never slept better till I started running. I sleep hard and rarely wake up through the night after a good run or bike ride.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      This is true. When I was running, I slept better… I really need to start
      running again.

  • Steve M

    Running, like many things in life, is a discipline. Many times, I can think of reasons I’d rather skip a scheduled run. After the run however, I’m glad I “won” over my excuses. If that happens early in the day, it helps set the stage for persevering with other disciplines during the day that require effort, whether mental, spiritual or physical

  • Rick Lehman

    Expand the scope of your activities that have “beyond-activity” benefits to DEFINATELY include biking.  You get all the benefits of running, and much less physical stress on the body.  With biking, the “beyond-activity” benefits include:
    1.) experiencing much more scenery, because you cover so much territory,
    2.) the ability to exercise comfortably in heat,  because the heat blows off,
    3.) tremendous comraderie, when riding with others, and,
    4.) the thrill of swooping through corners, whizzing down hills, and going hard, knowing you can always cruize back in, no matter how tired you get….

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am intending to buy a bike this fall and get into it. Thanks for the push.

  • Pauline Logan

    When I walk, my cup overflows. I feel “fed” by God’s creation: its magnificent beauty and surprising variety are stimulating and uplifting. I often learn something new about a plant, bird, or other animal along my route.
    I also like to pray while I’m walking, and–if I’m alone in an area–praise God out loud for who He is. Walking brings me closer to God!

  • http://amykiane.typepad.com/ Amy Nabors (@amykiane)

    For me it helps emotionally. I tend to have a melancholy personality and running just helps keep my emotions ‘up’ and from getting too down. It also helps me focus on the tasks I need to accomplish. 

  • http://www.CyberDivaVA.com Ana Lucia Novak

    Walking 6-8 miles helps me to purge stuff that is in my system (mind, body and spirit). I use that time to day dream and work thru issues, pray, and visualize good things happening to my family, business, friends. I always feel clear headed, grounded afterwards, and have creative solutions for helping clients market their products/services thru social media.

  • http://www.kathink.blogspot.com Kathleen T. Jaeger

    I concur with your reasoning. Also, I love to run outside along a path with trees and woods and a river. This also refreshes my perspective because I realize there is a bigger world out there than the four walls that contain my to-do lists.

    I don’t listen to anything while I run — no music, no books. I love the idea, though, of being eager to getting back to what you are reading! But, for me, I just love the down time to think. It is especially refreshing when I run longer than my thoughts!

  • TesTeq

    “Running provides an opportunity for personal growth. Often, I listen to audio books, podcasts, or courses when running.” – that’s my motivation too!

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I love listening to podcasts while I run. Actually, this post gave me the
      push I needed to get out and run for the first time in several months, and I
      listened to a couple of “Freakonomics” podcasts on my run.

  • Emily

    I do a three mile hike up a steep hill daily and talk to God. Since I discovered that ADD is basically a blood-flow to the brain issue, I make my hike a priority. Not only do I get a chance to pray, meditate on scripture, and process my daily life while I am on the trail, but the rest of the day my brain actually works.

    When I started this five years ago, it was very hard to get motivated to do it; the only reason I kept it up was because a friend went with me and I didn’t want to let her down. But now it is a routine I prefer to do alone, just for the think time. Plus it doesn’t require the physical effort it once did.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Emily, this sounds like a great practice!

  • John

    I am a cyclist, have a regular small group of long-distance cyclists and we meet on the weekend.  The cycling is such a great change from the daily work and family routines.  The scenery is beautiful in the hills where we ride.  We’ve been riding together for about ten years now, and have become good friends in the process.  And we’re finding that we can trust each other to offer advice for personal situations and business problems that arise from time to time.  
    For thinking things out, I swim.  You don’t have to worry about traffic or any interruptions.  The solitude of swimming provides the totally quiet time that you need to think things through.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    One other thing I enjoy from running: it gives me time to dream!

  • http://intentionalbygrace.com Leigh Ann

    I hate running. I despise running. I swore I’d never be a runner. However, I never thought about it like this. I might be runner after all. Hmmm … Thanks for the post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s pretty funny. I didn’t start running until six years ago. I didn’t think I was a runner either. ;-)

      • http://twitter.com/eccle0412 Jackie Anderson

        I still don’t really like running but I am always glad when I get going and finish.  It is all this 1-3, and more. I listen to podcast while I run. There are places I can recall specific messages heard that are still powerful in my life. 15-20 mi a week 45 yr old mom of 4. Started running 15? years ago because walking just takes too long.

        • http://intentionalbygrace.com Leigh Ann

          @Jackie I have a 6.5 month old now who I’m still nursing. The thought of running just hasn’t seemed appealing. I need to start exercising, and I agree … walking just takes too long. All this talk is pretty motivating. When do you run? Were your kids young when you started?

    • http://bschebs.com Bschebs

      @n10tionalgrace:disqus I ran a little in High School and hated it, told myslef from then on the only reason I would run is if I am being chased.  However I started running a few weeks ago, and I get the biggest smile on my face when I am trucking along.  I have been using the C25K program, picked a 5k to run and paid the money that was 9 weeks out,  that got me off the couch the first 2 times, the rest have been for the pure enjoyment of running.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Leigh Ann, I’m not sure why you hate to run, is it because of shin splints? I never used to run. I didn’t like it because my shins would kill me even at the beginning of a run. A few months ago I decided I would start to run and found a way around it. Trail running has helped tremendously in the prevention of them. If that’s an issue for you, you may want to try running trails.

  • Amy Patrick

    I first must say that I really identify with #3 on your list.  For my whole 30+ years of life I have neglected consistent exercise and only ran when taking the Presidential fitness tests in PE as a kid.  After losing 60lbs in the last 7 months, I stepped on the treadmill at the gym for the first time about 8 weeks ago.  I will admit, I was terrified.  I was sure that I would either take a step too far to the side or go flying right off the back.  But that’s not what happened.  Instead, everyday I ran longer and farther and felt less winded.  Last week I ran an entire 3 miles and today I ran a whole 5k in honor of my niece who has a brain tumor.

    So, what non-physical benefit does running have for me?  It gives me confidence!  Words like “can’t” and “won’t” and “too scared” are no longer in my vocabulary.  I step onto the treadmill 2-3 times per week knowing that I can run hard and strong.  It’s an amazing feeling. 

  • Tbone17_2001

    It gives me a great opportunity to connect with my wife and other running buddies. It is often the best part of my day.

  • Robin Bermel

    Spiritual. It takes me some time to clear my head and get into my rhythem, but at some point, it becomes a dialogue between God and me. It’s a beautiful thing. God allows me to empty my head by the sound of shoes hitting the pavement. Before you know it, my Creator and I are conversing. I lift up praises and prayers. He sometimes provides clarity and instruction–and always the gift of His gentle presence. It’s a wonderful thing. 

  • Robin Bermel

    Spiritual. I empty out my head at the start. At some point, my thoughts turn reflective, and then I’m aware of God’s presence. The rhythm of my shoes hitting the pavement carry me into a conversation with my Creator. I offer praises and prayers. He sometimes gives insight, instruction–and always His loving attendance. It’s a beautiful thing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.janine Andy Janine Mason

    I love to use the time to connect with a friend(s) running with me. “If you can’t talk you are running too fast.”

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I’ve heard that the best pace for you when you’re running is one in which
      you can still talk.

  • Michael

    I believe running also helps me to “control the flesh” and helps my relationship w/ the Lord. Running builds self discipline, which ultimately rolls over into every aspect of my life. I started running ultra marathons a few years ago, and in the midst of a 50 or 100 mile race, I often lean on the Lord for strength. I enjoy taking on physical challenges that I know I can’t complete in my own strength.

    Short and sweet, I believe when the focus is right (on the Lord first), running helps me to be a better person…

  • http://www.facebook.com/victorious.soldier Greg Wiley

    It gives you a sense of accomplishment. After you have run in the morning you feel like you have checked off a project and are ready from something bigger.

  • http://www.classiercorn.com Classier Corn

    Interesting post.
    Running is very good for your body and mind.
    I recently read a fantastic book about running: Born to Run.
    Thank You for a interesting blog!
    Best Regards 
    Classier Corn

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, I loved that book, too. In fact, I reviewed it here on my blog.

      • http://bschebs.com Bschebs

        Reading that book was profound to me.  Made me glad I bought my VFFs.  Now if only I could eat like the tarahumara then All would be good.

  • Barbara Leigh

    Spending time alone is sometimes very important in a day filled with constant contact. Being with yourself is sometimes as important as being with others. 

  • Dorothy Champagne

    I receive your posts in my email, but this is my first time commenting.   I think of running as a training exercise.  I’m not in the US military, or serve in the armed forces, but I train as part of a higher calling.  If I do not keep my body physically fit – how can I be the most available to God for whatever He calls me to do?  Maybe He’ll never call me to fly overseas and build houses for missionaries – maybe He’ll never call me to plan the secret underground for the Christian Chinese – but maybe He’ll call me to volunteer for the activities department in the VBS program – whatever He has planned – I want to make sure my body is up for it.  With this in mind, it’s much easier to run with purpose.  http://setapartchrist.blogspot.com/2011/04/exercise-new-4-letter-word-times-2.html 
    Thanks for your consistent posting!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dorothy. I appreciate having you as a reader.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Dorothy, thanks for the good link!

  • http://twitter.com/AccuContrive AccuContrive

    Maybe some commented already about this, but “think time” and “listening time” don’t go together. it’s either one.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Not for me. When I listen, it stimulates thinking.

  • Tammy Berkman

    Running increases endorphins, the chemical in the brain that elevates your mood, gives you a sense of well being, and is the opposite of depression.  Your articles are encouraging!Tammy Berkman  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tammy.

  • Kimberly Dawn Rempel

    Currently crawling out of a sedentary lifestyle (note – crawling, not running…) it occurred to me just this week that exercising is good for my emotional health. You’re so right. 

    I like the idea of ‘reading’ while running.  That might be enough to get me hitting the pavement. Hmm… 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      How about a 21-day trial? Commit to doing it for 21 days and see how you feel at the end?

    • Joe Lalonde

      Kimberly, I’ll second the nothing that it is good for your emotional health. I know when I get back from my runs, I feel great.

  • Wes Roberts

    …fast chasing 70 years olde…I could not agree more

    …looking forward to meeting you at the DCW in October

    …and continue to be most grateful for all your wisdom and insights on your blog!!!

  • http://thingsithinkaboutwhenihavetimetothink.blogspot.com/ Fenella Karis

    Love this article. For me, cycling has become my me-time. I go to the gym so there are none of my little people calling out for mum – the reason why I could never do the home exercise thing! And importantly, with the gym, I can’t use the weather excuse. I use the time, like many of you, to listen to podcasts. I have a Bible podcast and also medical education ones – the only way I can keep up to date. But, yes, there are also those days when it’s really just the space I need to have chat with The Big Guy.

  • Cindie

    I walk/run…somtimes I just listen to Christian music…other times I use that time to pray and sort things out with God…sometimes I just enjoy the silence and think. For me, I am a Type 2 Diabetic and it is a great stress reliever as well.

  • http://thriveinchrist.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Stark

    I just started teaching an eight week series on the book of Romans at church and have been greatly healped in understanding the flow of the whole book by listening to it all in one sitting (one running actually). It takes just over an hour to listen to it through from start to finish so I’ve been running more 10 km runs lately and have listen to it many times. 

  • Ooohsomethingshiny

    I really miss it. I have hip problems that prevent me from running, but I always felt like I was flying and it just doesn’t get any simpler.

  • Jesgoinup

    Prayer…Seeking God’s will for my life.  Planning my day around His plan for me.

    • Joe Lalonde

      I find myself praying… “Dear God, please let me make it back alive. I feel like I’m dying here.” (-;

      In all seriousness, that’s a great use of the time. Keep it up.

  • Pakarcinta Com

     I’m SO with you on this. I do much of my daily planning when I’m on my
    2-4 mile jog in the morning, which I’m up to at least 4 times per week.
    Being in shape is an added bonus.

    Pakar CINTA: http://PakarCinta.com

  • http://twitter.com/glentastic Glen Mullins

    Excellent post! I would add that running is a great way to build one’s self-esteem, too. Whether you’re preparing for your first 5K or training for a marathon, running offers a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Glen, very true! As you expand your distance, MPH, etc a feeling of accomplishment comes over you. It’s exciting!

  • Joe Lalonde

    Great post Michael!

    I’ve recently started to run and can see a great change physically and mentally.

    One of the non-physical changes that has occurred is greater discipline. There are times when I don’t want to run but I know I should. I have to tell myself to do it and then go do it.

    I’m trying to listen to good material while I’m running but having trouble retaining it. I seem to get very focused on the run and find myself wondering what they’re talking about. Any suggestions on how to better retain the information?

  • Jeremy


    I’m an avid runner and read, but have given up on non-fiction while running due to the lack of ability to capture notes, quotes, outlines, etc.  Have you found a way of overcoming this?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I just don’t sweat it. I would rather have some input, even if I can’t capture stuff.

  • http://blog.mattrix.info mattrixDOTinfo

    I went running in 94 degree, sunny weather yesterday (in Southern CA) and I loved it. Most friends and family members don’t get it. I love it. I feel purified afterwards. And you’re right, it clears my mind as well.

  • Cpickerel

    Something about breathing deep and sweating and getting something accomplished is fulfilling!  We were made to move.  Our culture has taken the need out of our lives in large part.  I think we ended up editing out something that was innate and good.  I feel alive!  I feel strong (mentally), and yes….it is a great time to do many of those things mentioned.  I listen to music..some worship some not…..and I think…who gets time to do that anymore?  LOL

    • Cpickerel

      BTW…..I never run in the heat of the day..unless somebody is chasing me!

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes! I love the way that running makes me feel alive!

  • Brian

    Thanks, Michael! I went running this morning with a totally new motivation – usually it’s for physical health (more accurately, to make up for my vices). This time I ran for my mind. I knew I had some big planning and brainstorming to do today. I needed to be at my most creative. So, I ran.

    Unlike you, I can’t really think while running. However, this did stimulate my thinking later in the morning. I got out of my run what I hoped I would. I appreciate your encouragement.

  • Clahookem

    I’ve become a treadmill walker 3x week at the YMCA with a gorgeous outdoor view.  I sometimes listen to books on tape but more and more I’m listening to classical or praise music because it helps me use the time to recenter on what’s important.  I think of all the blessings in my life, my friends and family and work and just delight in all the good.  It’s like getting a physical and mental detox.

  • turner_bethany

    Running is not my favorite, you have given me new motivation to get back into a work out routine again no matter what it is like outside. 

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      This post motivated me to start running again, too. I did it on Saturday,
      and I’m actually yearning to go out again tonight!

      • turner_bethany

        Good for you! I went on a long walk with my husband and dogs tonight. It was pretty glorious. Making plans to do it again tomorrow night. 

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I cycle and agree with your points. My energy level goes down when I don’t exercise. Cycling usually is a time to think through a writing assignment or a scene in my next novel. I’ve come back from a 45-minute ride re-energized and ready to hit the old keyboard again.

  • Jplynch04

    Hey Mike,
    Are you still running in your 5fingers?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep. I’m doing about 5 miles a day in them.

      • Jplynch04

        Awesome.  I ran the Peachtree in mine.  Come to Atlanta on Thanksgiving day and run the half marathon with us.   

  • George

    My walking-running time serves as part of my quiet time. I usually wear shorts with a pocket so that I can carry a pen and post-its. I’m not trying to be a competitive athlete now. If I get a good idea while exercising, I stop, quickly write it down so that I don’t forget it, and continue my workout/devotional time. The consistent walking/running makes me more alert, alive, and energetic. It also reduces stress, pressure, and anxiety.

  • Jmhardy97

    I always need an extra urge to go out and run, but there is no better feeling when I am done! It feels so great after you run, hard to explain. It helps your self esteem as well as your physical and mental health.


  • Tlstuart

    Time to commune with nature and pray.  Also I do some of my best writing while running.  I carry a small digital audio recorder and usually record as many as 50 entries during an hour run. 

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Wow, that’s fantastic!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Wow. That’s a lot of entries!

  • Lionchristlike

    Wow I have never really looked at running this way. Great post and inspiring. Time to take up running again.

  • Mandmbottoinoz

    I agree – running does provide “think time” but as a person who is always thinking, it also allows me to switch off my “thinking” brain. On my night runs through the city, I concentrate on safety and traffic that I forget about the day and whatever happened so I am able to relax and leave work at work. I’ve also recently started running w groups and I’ve met different people and made new friends! And another big one for me – no matter the distance, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and raises my self-confidence.

  • Spareribs LaMothe

    One of your followers sent me this link because I write the running blog for the Dallas Morning News, and just yesterday I posted about the obstacles to performance when people whine about the heat!  There is a fun story in it about Eddie Stanky managing the White Sox some years ago.  Hope you like it.  Your post was enjoyable, and I entirely agree with those points. My real job has some complexities to it, and I manage to solve them all when I run.  Here’s the link if you are interested:  runningblog.dallasnews.com.    Spareribs LaMothe

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  • Jim Garlits

    I bike instead of running, but with similar benefits.  The upside is that I won’t blow my knees out.  I also love audio books but I don’t listen to them when I’m cycling.  I want to be fully engaged by the world around me and let thoughts come as they may.  I see your points though, and they are good.

  • http://www.johngallagherblog.com John Gallagher

    Couple things for me:  1) Discipline – I really don’t ‘like’ to run, but it does teach me discipline to get better.  As a result, I can teach that message to my kids as well.  2) Prayer time.  I want to try the audiobook idea as well.  I listen to music and really find peace in the music, but certainly, personal development with books could be really good as well.

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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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