Jim Silva: Benefits of fitness more than just physical

08/22/2014 12:00 AM

08/21/2014 3:47 PM

The recent news about the death – and apparent suicide – of actor and comedian Robin Williams has brought to light a lot of discussion about depression.

I’ve written before about the mind-body connection, and it seems an appropriate time to talk about it again.

Simply put, improving your physical health can have many benefits to your mood, feelings about yourself and your outlook on life.

Eating well and staying fit have improved my mood and attitudes since beginning my fitness journey five years ago.

Here’s what I’ve found:

• The power of endorphins. I always feel better after working out, whether it be at the gym or after a long run. Much of that has to do with endorphins, those hormones that make us feel good. I’ve rarely felt the “runner’s high” that many people talk about. But I almost always feel good after a run.

While many people like to work out at night, I like to start my morning with a good run or workout. The blast of endorphins I get helps me get through my day. Even if I am physically tired, I always feel mentally alert after a good run.

• Fresh air. Nothing can dampen your mood more than being inside all the time. If you go straight from your house to your office then back to your house again, you are not getting enough time outside. A good run or walk outside can help your mood immensely.
• More energy. If you’re constantly feeling tired, your mood will suffer. You ever notice how cranky you can be when you haven’t had enough sleep?

Eating well will help give your body the fuel it needs to feel strong. Being fit will help your endurance to get through a busy day. And getting a good night of sleep is critical to helping your body – and mind – recover from the hectic days we all face.

• Improved body, improved mind. I weigh about 35 pounds less than I did five years ago. My body composition also has improved; I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been. My improved fitness has improved my confidence, which in turn has improved my self-image.
• Accomplishing goals. I’ve written a lot about how finishing a marathon – now three marathons – has changed the way I feel about myself. Reaching the goal of training and finishing a race can give you a lot of self-confidence. If I can finish a marathon, I figure I can accomplish anything.
• Birds of a feather. If you want to be happy, hang around happy people. Runners are generally a happy bunch. Yes, you always will find a grumpy runner out on the trails – one who ignores your friendly wave or smile.

But more often than not, fitness enthusiasts are generally positive, supportive people. Being around such great people has helped the way I look at life and the world. Their positive energy is infectious.

Jon Olsen update

Modesto ultramarathoner Jon Olsen is at it again. Olsen, a math teacher at Prescott Junior High School, won the International Association of Ultrarunners 24-Hour World Championships last year.

Now he’s representing the U.S. at the Spartathlon in Greece, a 153-mile run from Athens to Sparta. The event will be held in late September.

According to the race’s website, “the Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long-distance runner who, in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians.”

The Bee will keep you updated on how Olsen does.

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