Running the track can be an easy way to keep track of pace and distance. At a constant 400 meters per lap, it’s easy to just count the number of times you pass by the local high school team’s scoreboard. And while the scenery may become repetitive after the first or second lap, hitting the track is also a great way to let your body run a course without having to think about it.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Builds healthy habits – No one expects to eat three cheeseburgers and fries and then go out and set a personal record at a track meet. Coaches encourage athletes to eat properly before and after races. You perform better and feel better when you have proper nutrition during training. A healthy diet allows you to perform to the best of your abilities, so when you are running track you tend to have a more healthy diet.
- Promotes teamwork – Track is an individual as well as team sport. How you perform affects the team, especially in situations such as relay races. All four members are equally important in the race. Each plays a role in the team’s efforts to win. If even one runner does not perform at his best, the whole team may suffer or have to compensate to make up for his weakness.
In addition to this team bond at track meets, friendships are formed during practices. Runners are expected to train daily and have to endure workouts together. This forms bonds that help make the team stronger.
- Ensures fitness – Running improves your cardiovascular fitness, as well as decreases your risk of a stroke or heart attack. If these habits are started at an early age, then you are more likely to incorporate them in your daily activities. Running also burns fat and increases muscle tone. An estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese, according to the CDC. These statistics only reinforce that running through an organized source, such as track, can improve a participant’s life, not just health.
- Life benefits – Every athlete has an understanding of each sport. In running you will learn commitment, dedication, and discipline. Also you will learn to acknowledge your team opinions and strategy. True athleticism teaches you hard work and makes you a better good example to anyone.
- Sharpens coordination – The uneven surface combined with obstacles such as rocks and tree roots can make trail running quite difficult. However, runners who regularly run on these types of services, quickly learn to maintain better control over their bodies to prevent tripping and stumbling while running. Running on a flat surface such as a track can also result in improved coordination because it forces the body to work together to keep the runner upright and traveling in the correct path. Those who run regularly typically move more fluidly than those who do not run or engage in any type of regular exercise.
- Psychological benefits – Most significantly runners typically report being happier and feeling less stressed than their counterparts who do not run or exercise regularly. Running actually has the ability to alter an individuals moods because endorphins are released while running. These hormones create a sense of euphoria often referred to as a runner’s high and can result in an improvement in the runner’s mood. The act of running allows the individual to focus on the task at hand instead of being worried or stressed about work, family or other stressors. Additionally, running can be very challenging on the body which can result in the individual feeling a sense of accomplishment by completing the run which shifts the focus of his attention from negative stressors to a sense of pride and accomplishment.
- Slow down aging – Those who run regularly are less likely to experience bone and muscle loss as they age at the same pace as those who do not run regularly or at all. The bones grow and become stronger by responding to physical demands. People who run on a regular basis are continually taxing their muscles and their bones so the bones are stimulated to remain stronger and do not as easily weaken with age.
- Fun – Being a member of a track team, whether you are in middle school, high school or college, is fun. You are surrounded by like-minded people with the same goals. Plus, you are not limited to running events. Instead, you use your body in ways you might not in various other sports and activities. The thrill of soaring through the air as you jump over a high bar, or the rush of energy you experience as you use your strength to hurl a discus, will keep a smile on your face throughout the entire school day as you wait patiently to practice your new sport.
- Improves confidence – Racing your body to its greatest potential and crossing the finish line is an empowering experience. Your confidence improves as you trust your heart, lungs and muscles to keep up with your demands. When you race around the track, you depend on no one but yourself, which increases your self-esteem. As your run times improve or your jump heights increase, your confidence grows. This improved self-confidence has a positive impact on other areas of your life, such as academic performance, personal relationships and applying for jobs. Plus, when you exercise, you reduce stress and maintain a healthy weight, which also improves your self-esteem.
- Become a good sport – Running track is a character-building experience. Your coach will push you and motivate you to your limits, and give you tips on how to beat the competition – but you won’t always win. Even with your goal-setting and practicing, you encounter disappointing losses. The loss cannot be blamed on one athlete; you work together as a team. During times of disappointment, you learn to be a good sport as you are humbled, but also motivated to try harder next time. This positive attitude also carries over to your wins; you can be proud but not boastful about your wins, as you have empathy for the losing team.