Our society has been labeled ‘obesogenic’ by the CDC. Obesogenic is a term defined as environments that promote increased food intake, non healthful foods, and physical inactivity. Bingo! That pretty much sums up our country’s current state of health and the reason I am delighted rather than disgruntled with the influx of new runners today.
Running is clearly beneficial to your health, but surprisingly so is being part of a group. Last year the New York Times revealed an Australian study suggesting individuals with friends live longer than their friendless counterparts. This is yet another reason to get involved in a running group, which these days is easy to do. In fact, they are popping up all over the country and in most cities there are a variety to choose from. Some provide coaching, group runs and a sense of camaraderie all for a fairly nominal fee. Others are completely free of charge, often organized through sites like meetup.com. Whether a novice or a veteran runner there seem to be groups for everyone.
What I find even more fantastic about the running trend is how popular it has become to run for a cause. One of the largest fundraising groups is Team in Training, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Over the years they have raised over $800 million and have had 350,000 participants since their inception. Many other runners fund raise for an endless number of causes like AIDS research, Domestic Violence Prevention and Breast Cancer research. Fundraising through running often inspires people that would otherwise have no desire to run on their own. They run for a cause they are passionate about and in turn find a love for running, or at the very least they may improve their current state of health or make friends.
I work for a non-profit organization struggling to stay afloat with the burden of California’s financial deficit. Two of our board members recently ran the Fargo Marathon and raised over $1,200 for our organization. This is the beauty of running for a cause. It benefits the runner and a worthy organization simultaneously.
In a nation plagued with obesity and heart disease as the leading cause of death, a trend like running is exactly what the doctor ordered. It is not a solution to our problems but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
Side note: As great as the running trend is, I have to address the fact that it does not solve our country’s obesity problem. Obesity rates are far higher among minority populations and sadly the presence of minorities in these running organizations is small. The good news is that the rate of physical activity has increased in the last few years among racial minorities but there is still a ways to go.