Book Review - Running is My Therapy
This book came recommended to me from a former member (thank you Liz!) As a runner myself - well, I'd probably describe myself as a CrossFitter who likes to run ... - I was curious to learn what the author had to say about relieving stress and anxiety, fighting depression, ditching bad habits, and living happier. After all, our goal at CrossFit Simsbury is to promote health and happiness!
Whenever I go for a run, I always come back feeling great, and wonder why. If I'm ever in a less-than-ideal mood, I go for a run. I always come back in a better mood. Is it the running itself that does it? The increased heart rate and the increased blood flow? Is it being outside in nature with some fresh air? Is it being alone and being able to let my brain disconnect from technology and notifications and actually relax?
The book does a good job of mixing scientific studies on the matter with the authors, and others, practical opinions. I like science and data, so hearing paragraphs about GABA, SSRIs, glycogen stores, and VO2 max I find interesting. If science is not your thing, don't fret, for every paragraph of science, there are two more filled with personal anecdotes. Overall the book is an easy read.
While the author specifically focuses on running, I took a good bit of it as exercise in general, and especially CrossFit. I mentioned how running puts me in a good mood. You know what else puts me in a good mood? A good, sweaty, CrossFit wod. The biggest differentiation that was pointed out was that purely lifting weights does not give the benefits that running does. The heart rate needs to be elevated for a long period of time to see the specific brain boosting benefits for improving neurological function.
The author ends the book with an appendix of quick tips for using running to manage mental health.
1. Any run is better than no run
2. The most important step of the run is the one that gets you out the door
3. 30 minutes or more is best, but don't fret about time, see point #1
I think all of those relate to CrossFit as well!
I'd recommend this book to anyone who has, has had, or knows people with anxiety or depression. The author stated that 30% of Americans have anxiety, and antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medication in the USA. The author also pointed out that for most mild cases of anxiety and depression, exercise does equal if not better than pharmaceutical medication!