Hitting the trail is picking up in popularity around Baton Rouge, and especially among women. Over the year, running has transformed into one of the most accessible mainstream forms of exercise. There’s a number of ways the habit can benefit your body and influence your community. Here’s a few facts about how running is creating change in the Baton Rouge community.
Running is Good for Women’s Mental Health Well
Running has been proven to be very good for mental health. Typically, women suffer from depression and anxiety at a much higher rate than men. Running, and exercise in general, provides an effective treatment for these common conditions. Aerobic exercise and sunlight are known to help improve moods in those with mild and moderate depression. There are minimal to no side effects from these treatments. Although most health plans don’t cover a nice run on a sunny day, we recommend it anyway.
An article in Preventative Medicine demonstrated that there is a strong relationship between physical activity and mental health. A random sample of 7674 adults found that there was a curvilinear response (hyperbolic dose-response relationship) of mental health to exercise. The authors found an optimal number of hours of activity. Better mental health was found in those who had 2.5 to 7.5 hour of activity weekly. Higher and lower physical activity time was associated with worse mental health.
One major health plan’s website discusses the importance of exercise for mental health as well (Cigna). Aerobic activity releases chemicals that assist in calming those with anxiety disorder. Running can increase production of norepinephrine; this helps the brain deal with stress. Running can also increase the production of natural endorphins; these are responsible for the ‘runner’s high’.
Additionally, cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells and improves performance mentally. Running has also been shown to prevent cognitive decline; the chemicals released in the brain during running prevent degeneration of the hippocampus (memory and learning). Running is also better for productivity and creativity. This is especially important for mothers (both working moms and stay-at-home moms). A run that elevates the heart rate (high-intensity) can boost creativity for up to two hours afterward.
Female Participation is Up
Louisiana is typically listed as either the unhealthiest state or the second unhealthiest state in the country. However, there are more and more female runners in the state and especially in Baton Rouge that are trying to change this.
There is a Vibrant Running Community Here and Nationally Available for Women
There is a vibrant running community in Baton Rouge and participation is growing yearly. This is not just a local trend but national as well. Since Oprah Winfrey ran the Marine Corp Marathon in 1994 (finish time under 4.5 hours) female participation in events has grown from 32% of finishers to 57%. This is awesome for women’s health.
Baton Rouge has multiple running groups available to help guide women that have never tried distance running to those training for marathons. There are even two female-owned and operated specialty running shoe stores in this town. The Healing Sole can be found at Fleet Feet on Perkins Road; a wealth of running expertise can be found there as well. While female participation in other sports, such as cycling (15% of USA Cycling’s members) or swimming (47% of US Masters) is healthy, that of running is seemingly the highest.
There are also national groups available such as Black Girls Run! (started by Toni Carey of Atlanta), and Moms Run This Town or She Runs This Town. In addition, there are hundreds of running apps available on Android and IOS platforms to assist in training for beginner and advanced runners.
Here are some links to local running events, routes and races:
There are dozens of women in Baton Rouge and Louisiana that have taken to the pavements, tracks and trails to run who are helping our state to get healthier. Thank you for all your hard work!
The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2016: How Women Took Over the World of Running: Rachel Bachman 2016
Soo Kim Y, Soo Park Y, Allegrante J, et al. Relationship between Physical Activity and General Mental Health. Prev Med
. Nov 2012; 55(5): 458-463