How Running and Track is a Benefit Toward Academics

Fitsok Running a track
Between classes, homework, essays, and a part-time job, you might feel like there's no time left for anything and think: Why would you sign up for track? School and college can feel stressful enough, so adding more to your plate can sound discouraging—but what if we told you that the benefits of track and student running aren't just physical? Did you know that running can affect your academics as well?
Read on if you're curious how track can benefit body and mind.

Improved Cognitive Function

We'll start with the brain. Numerous studies have demonstrated the connection between regular exercise and increased mental clarity. A book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by Harvard University psychiatrist John R. Ratey, shows a correlation between sports and improved cognitive functioning.
Combining years of research and analyzing countless MRI brain scans revealed that the volume of the hippocampus (the elongated ridges on the floor of each ventricle of the brain, thought to be the center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system), as well as frontal and temporal lobes, increased in people who began pursuing fitness.
These brain areas are associated with memory, focus, and learning, and their growth eventually leads to better study achievements.
A study by the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee in Scotland, taking place over decades including over 5000 children and adolescents, revealed strong evidence between exercise and exam success. After just fifteen minutes of regular exercise, academic performance increased.

Boost Confidence

Running can boost confidence due to improved fitness and weight loss. Getting into great physical shape can make everyone feel more comfortable in their skin; however, that's not the only way running boosts your confidence. Physical activity can improve mood, teach how to overcome challenges and adversity, and introduce a new skill that always boosts self-confidence.

Mental Health Improvement

The stress associated with high academic demands and heavy workload in college has created a rise in mental health issues and burnout. Students worldwide struggle with classes, assignments, work, and home life; this increased stress can cause psychological problems. How can running help mental health?
  • Stress reduction. After a run, endocannabinoids are released into your body, a substance similar to cannabis but naturally produced in your body. This chemical floods our bloodstream producing a short-term feeling of reduced stress and calm that could improve your physical and mental responses to stressful situations.
  • Mood boost. Running may lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression in some. It won't make depression or anxiety disappear overnight, but it can help manage the symptoms. Some studies suggest that for some people, running can have the same effects as medication used in relieving the symptoms of both.
  • Sleep improvement. Running can assist you in setting a more regular sleep schedule, according to studies. The chemicals released during and after a run help relax your body and encourage deeper sleep. Having a regular sleep schedule is also fantastic for your brain and may improve your mental health. Remember that some studies also show that running or working out too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect.

Leadership Trait Developments

Whether on a team or taking a solo run, running and physical activities in children, young adolescents, and adults can teach essential leadership traits. Studies conducted within high schools have discovered a connection between leadership qualities and participation in sports competitions. Sports, or running in general, can help set and achieve a goal, which can reflect in almost all other areas of life.
Running can teach habit-forming traits and persistent habits; students can apply that lesson in the academic world. Running, especially on a team, can help develop a mindset toward success and higher performance.

Tips for Beginner Runners

Getting started may feel easy, but remaining consistent is the hardest part. To reap the benefits of running or track in your life and academics, you must stick to it as much as possible. But how?

Always Stretch

Never slap on a pair of running shoes and start jogging without a proper warm-up stretch. It is vital to avoid strain and injury to ensure that you've properly warmed up. Dynamic stretches, and active movements, warm up your muscles, joints, and connective tissues. So stretches like leg swings, high knees, side lunges, windmill, and heel-toe stretches are excellent warm-ups.

Start Small

Set reasonable goals that are easy to achieve, especially if you've not been physically active. If needed, a 10-minute leisurely jog with walking interspersed is an excellent means to begin your running journey. If you find yourself conquering a 10-minute run with no issue, gradually increase it to 15 minutes, then after adjusting, 20, then 25, and then 30.

How Often To Run

To get the most out of your run and to form a habit, try running three to five days a week. How long you run depends on your physical fitness, but the ultimate goal will be 30 minutes every three days or 30 minutes every five days. You must also remember to rest between active days to give your body and muscles time to recuperate and heal. Running every day could be a recipe for injuring yourself, as when you exercise, you develop tears in the muscle tissue which needs to recover.

Listen to Your Body at All Times

During a run, paying attention to and listening to what your body is telling you is also critical. A smartphone can tell you about cadence, speed, distance, pace, intervals, heart rate, etc. Yet a smartphone cannot know whether or not you just recovered from the flu, what is happening in your personal life, what injuries you may have, or how far you can push yourself. Only you know your body best.
How do you listen to your body?
  • Head-to-toe body scan before the warm-up. How tired do your legs feel? Is your breathing more difficult than usual? Do you feel any pain anywhere, or are you having difficulty correcting your posture and gait? Do this scan after five or ten minutes into a run to keep you anchored and to ensure you don't push yourself too hard.
Be gentle with yourself and be gentle with your body. You know yourself best, and before you know it, running and track may not be something that you dread but look forward to for a boost in mood and performance in all areas of your life!