I am not an athlete. I never was. As a teen, gym class was torture for me. I was always the last to be picked for teams and never seemed to ‘get’ how to be sporty. Plus I didn’t like to get sweaty, and I certainly didn’t like to undress in front of the other girls. So when it came to gym class, I thought, “What is the point of this?”
Then one day, a really good friend asked me to come out with bunch of other girls. “To do what?” I asked. To run. She explained that it was a really fun way to get together. I thought she was crazy. I told her I wasn’t interested. But she insisted, and said I didn’t have to do it ever again if I didn’t like it. All I needed were my earphones and my favorite tunes.
Reluctantly, I decided I would do it once, just to satisfy her. So we met right after school and ran for a couple of miles. I was sweaty and tired but weirdly, I felt really elated afterwards. There was something so cool about just running with the wind, almost a sense of freedom. We cooled down with our water bottles afterwards, talked, and just hung out. It was so much fun. I really felt amazing. I realized I didn’t have to be an athlete to enjoy physical activity—or the burst of energy that you get from it. And doing it with friends was the cherry on the sundae – a healthy sundae.
Fast forward twenty years, and here I am, a pediatrician. I have a busy job and busy life. But I still run. Why? Because of the way it makes me feel—on top of the world.
I’m not going to lie– it was hard to get moving as a teen and still is today. There are so many times I’d just rather do something else. But what still gets me out of bed and into my running shoes is that natural high. The high comes from endorphins — a group of ‘feel good’ chemicals that are released when you exercise. You’ve probably run into these endorphins before; they can also be released when you do things like holding your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s hand or eating chocolate.
Basically, exercise is a great bang for your buck—energy, a natural ‘high’, a healthy body, and sharp mind…what’s not to love about that?