Friday Finds – 1st July

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Sometimes I’m really not sure what I’m going to include in my Friday Finds. For much of the week it might seem like I’m hardly finding anything, then when I come to sit down and write I find myself with loads to choose from! That’s certainly the situation this week, so here are a few things I’ve chosen to mark the beginning of July.

My summer break always brings with it the promise of Getting My Life Sorted: I see the chance to get on top of all the non-work parts of my life, relax and focus a bit more on when/how I train. So my picks this week largely focus on the benefits of exercise, beyond physical fitness. I know that exercise helps me to feel better, relieves stress and makes me more productive. First up, some of the positive mental effects of exercise. This article published in The Guardian is predominantly aimed at those in education, and is therefore an interesting read for me as I’m always encouraging my pupils to get more fresh air and exercise as an aid to learning and generally feeling better. I know I’ve noticed the difference in those who take part in sport, and just hope this message can reach more people.

And while we’re on the subject of how exercise can benefit the brain, here’s one for the science fans. I’m not great at science these days (it’s been a looooooong time since I sat in a science lab!) but it can be intriguing to get some insight into just why different factors affect our bodies in different ways. This piece focuses on running and breaks down, in terms I can understand, how running can make us ‘smarter’.

I also enjoyed this next piece from NY Mag which again examines how exercise boosts short-term brain function as well as heightening awareness. What I liked most about this piece was the the inclusion of evidence from top endurance and adventure athletes. In particular the idea that learning to be “comfortable with being uncomfortable” features in their assessment of what has aided their success and reminds us all of what can be achieved.

Of course, exercise also has huge physical benefits, but these are not always solely fitness or performance benefits. In this next piece, published in The New York Times, columnist Aaron E Carroll rounds up some of the results of exercise therapy as a way of treating a number of chronic conditions. Although some studies are small, unsurprisingly they have yielded a lot of positive results. But regardless of results, I’m a firm believer that exercise contributes to a much healthier and happier life. It’s certainly part of my life and I expect it to be for many years to come.

And finally, while you may be conscious of leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s all too easy to be tempted by the workplace cakes. I know the department I work in is very good at acquiring cake to mark special occasions (or sometimes just because it’s Friday!), and while I don’t always indulge, there are times when I feel it would be rude not to! But beware the potential risks of the “office cake culture” which is the latest aspect of modern life to be declared a danger to health. Sometimes you have to wonder if the powers that be want to suck all the joy from our lives, but in all seriousness, try not to overdo the cakes at work, the sugar crash later will only make you feel worse!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess



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