Monday, May 31, 2010

Running: It's all the Rage!

I think it is easy to see that running has become trendy in our society.  It's cool to run these days, especially when you get a medal or t-shirt to show for it.  When I lived in Chicago I was always amazed at the swarm of runners on the lakefront path when the weather was warm.  I had no idea that many people liked to run!   Maybe it’s my Public Health background or my personal love of running, but this sight thrills me.  Some long time runners are more annoyed than elated with this flood of new runners but if you ask me, it's nice to see something besides low-carb diets and massive sunglasses become popular (admittedly, I am a fan of the oversized glasses).   A trend that gets people off the couch and moving is just what this country needs.  

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.


Happy Running! 

14 comments:

  1. I wish my neck of the woods would catch up to the rest of the country! There are no running groups anywhere around here, and I rarely see anyone else out running. It's a shame.

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  2. Running groups may be intimidating for those who are not avid runners or those who never really ran before. Maybe you can write up blog post for the newbies or those unsure about running. I have always loved the idea of running but have always felt intimidated to actually get out there and run. I have not been physically active in a while and know I would need to ease into it but am not sure how. I also face a bit of a challenge since I was “blessed” with flat feet and usually always experience some pain and discomfort when running, which then turns me off from it completely. So maybe you can also blog about some tips and suggestions or just share your experiences when you started out.

    Just an idea… :)

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  3. Grace - Thanks so much for the suggestion! I will definitely write something up for newbies. Starting anything for the first time can be very intimidating. Just like you said, you really have to ease into it. When I first started I could only run 15-20 minutes at a time. It's a slow progression but it's a great confidence builder as you start to improve.
    Thanks again for the suggestion! :)

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  4. Pam- Where in TN do you live? That is really too bad! They need to get with the times :) Have you tried meetup.com?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice entry Kate. Always entertaining and enlightening. It's the first time i've heard Obesogenic, sounds scary. But it is reversable, and your blog could help. If everyone had the desire and drive you have the trails would be overcrowded. And wouldn't that be a great thing!
    RunKateRun!

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