No matter where I find myself or who I speak with, the conversation inevitably turns to running. Sure, I am usually the one steering it that way, but I’m sure you will agree, running becomes an integral component of our identities. We run for various reasons based on our level of experience. For many, it began as a path to quick weight loss and soon we discovered that it was surprisingly enjoyable. Peeling away the layers of our minds mile after mile to obtain a better understanding of who we are and what is at our core. Some long runs can take on an almost religious experience when we push beyond our perceived limitations. It may feel like eternity in the rain, extreme heat or frigid cold, yet we never surrender. I am fully aware this isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but once someone experiences the gratification of reaching a goal through their own hard work and mental fortitude, there is nothing that can compare to that feeling or take it from them.
We all know someone overweight, depressed or generally in a bad place in their lives. They may be a coworker, neighbor or family member. Nevertheless, these are the kind of people who can greatly benefit from our guidance. It’s likely very lonely where that person “sits” and it’s our duty to lend a hand, believe in them and give them that nudge that can put them on the road to a happier, healthier life. I’ll admit, you can’t just throw a pair of shoes at someone, go for a leisurely jog with them and expect the habit to stick. It’s a complete lifestyle change and they could very well need someone to rejoice in their accomplishments, tell them to “put down the donut and nobody has to get hurt” or physically accompany them on their journey. By performing some of these deeds we are given the opportunity to change lives and potentially create a ripple effect. The people you assist today may go on to help others tomorrow.
Influencing kids of all ages to run is something that will undoubtedly help them make productive life choices and surround themselves with quality friends. Beyond that, it increases self-esteem, develops decision-making skills and meets a need that children have for excitement. This is a responsibility I have recently chosen to embrace and here are a few facts to support my decision:
- Between 3:00 and 6:00 PM are the peak hours of violent juvenile crime and are also the hours when children are most likely to become victims of crime. Choosing to run with them after school will consume this time doing something rewarding.
- Areas with high crime rates also tend to have lower rates of physical activity. Idle hands (and feet) are truly tools of the devil.
- Female high school athletes are 92% less likely to get involved with drugs and 80% less likely to get pregnant than their non-athletic counterparts.
Our retired population also provides a wonderful opportunity for us to lend a hand. Many of our seasoned citizens have health concerns and are unable to run, but are in desperate need of exercise. Going for a short walk with Aunt Gertrude or Uncle Bert can be a great way to connect with someone, help them improve their health and maybe even motivate them to participate in a charity walk. Just be sure to consult their physicians before you drag them out the door.
Many of us have already helped someone begin a more active lifestyle and transform their bad habits to good ones. This is just a reminder to keep up the good work. We should never become so absorbed in our personal goals and responsibilities that we forget to impart the benefits of what we have learned onto someone who’s life may be altered forever. So lace up your shoes, find that person in need and be the Superman or Wonder Woman that saves someones day.
Run for fun, but race to place. Up, up and away!