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Run your way into feeling great

Jingle jogs and 5k’s are not just for the holidays. While keeping that calorie count down is a great benefit to the activity, there are other less recognizable side effects that are just as, if not more, advantageous. A new year is a new chance to make some positive lifestyle changes, and the following benefits of running may be just the changes needed for a bigger and better year ahead.

Raymond Garza Jr. leads the pack at the start of Immokalee’s Jingle Jog Dec. 19. The annual 5K event traversed the residential area of the reservation to the ranch and back. (Beverly Bidney)

Fight depression

Depression is more common than many think. Overall, the mental illness accounts for affects 6.7 percent of adults in the U.S. and 8.9 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native adults in the U.S, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While anyone experiencing depression should consult their doctor about treatment, many studies have shown that running is just one of many forms of exercise that can help relieve the symptoms.

Relieve stress

Just as it helps fight off depression, running helps alleviate stress as well. Exercise releases a rush of endorphins that are known to help people feel happier and more relaxed. Running also provides a strong and lasting burst of energy to help people stay focused and excited about tasks they may need to do after their run.

Desk job recovery

For many adults, sitting at a desk all day is part of the job description. While this might help pay the bills, sitting for long periods of time takes large toll on bodies, especially because many people fail to sit with proper posture. Sitting all day can lead to back problems and poor circulation, among other issues. Spending at least 20 minutes a day running will help fix poor posture, reestablish good circulation and overall improve the condition of one’s health.

Chatting all the way, Amy Yzaguirre and Amy Dimas participate in the Immokalee Jingle Jog to catch up and have a few laughs. (Beverly Bidney)

Stay organized

Running regularly does take some scheduling, especially for those who work or go to school full-time. While it may be easier to think there is no time to run, scheduling those runs makes the rest of the day seem to flow more smoothly. For those who want to become competitive runners, training becomes a more crucial part of the week and requires thoughtful planning.

Boost confidence

Remember those endorphins previously discussed? They are a great confidence booster as well. Those who run regularly tend to be healthier physically, mentally and emotionally, and that increase in health radiates through confidence. Even a simple 20-minute jog can make someone feel accomplished and confident in everything they set out to achieve.
Running is more than a workout; it’s a positive lifestyle choice. It’s not necessary to run marathons and be a professional athlete to reap the benefits of the activity. With just a few hours a week, anyone can become healthier and happier for the new year.

Li Cohen
When she isn't drinking a [probably excessive] cup of coffee, Li is reading and writing about local, national and international news. She can also be seen running around NYC in preparation of marathon season and travelling to new lands. Make sure to check out her work at, send her an email at and follow her journeys on Twitter (@WritingLiYakira) and Instagram (@LiYakira).

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