Four reasons to squeeze in a run between classes

Today we’re wrapping up this week’s back-to-school theme with some thoughts on how running can benefit students beyond just keeping them healthy.  If you’re a runner, you probably agree that improved fitness is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what exercise can do for a person.

Starting college (or heading back) brings some unique challenges that the rest of us might not face on a regular basis.  Fortunately, running provides some special benefits that rise to the occasion.  Here are a few ways that running can complement college life.

Maintain routine.  One of the things a lot of college students learn the hard way is that it can be tough to make the transition to a less structured schedule.  First class of the day might not be until after lunch and all weekdays are no longer created equal.  Making running a reliable part of the daily routine can create some stability and make sure that newfound student freedom doesn’t lead to sleeping until noon or wasting those tricky spare hours between classes.

Mitigate junk food.  College food can be rough.  Between dorm-room microwave meals and deep-fried cafeteria food, it’s easy for students to be running on less than high-octane fuel.  While there’s no substitute for a healthy diet, keeping fit and active can help counterbalance the crummy food that seems to be go along with campus life.

Improve sleep.  For many, college is a time of staying up late, sleeping in, and squeezing in the occasional catnap.  As sleep gets more unpredictable, sleep quality becomes more important.  Getting regular exercise is the best way to set the stage for good, quality Zs.

Salvage the day after.  Let’s be realistic.  It’s college.  There are going to be some late nights and some rough mornings.  As much as it might seem like the most unpleasant idea in the world, rolling out of bed and getting some exercise can be just what the doctor ordered.  A motivated runner can be feeling as good as new while friends back at the dorm are still grumbling and avoiding natural light.

What about you?  Was running a staple of your college experience?  Or do you plan for it to be?  Tell us about it in the comments.

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