B IS FOR BENEFITS
Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically; fitness-- and the process of achieving and maintaining a reasonable level thereof-- is practically a panacea for the nation’s ills. Ok, so a bit overstated, but bear with me.

The Greeks said it first, “A sound mind in a sound body.” Or, more specifically, “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano,” the acronym of which you may recognize…ASICS; my favorite shoe company. They (the Greeks) believed it was the responsibility of the individual to exercise consistently not only to build a sound body, but to maintain a fine mind. Those of you already addicted to fitness would probably concur with the wisdom of these ancients.

Whatever it is you do; run, walk, bike, aerobics, swim, etc… the benefits are the same. I’ll focus on running, because that’s what I know best, but for those of you who prefer an alternative fitness vehicle, just substitute verbs where needed.

I began running on July 14th in 1978. I had three sons and a brother playing football for Black Hills State University, and on that beautiful South Dakota morning one of them said, “Come run with us, Mom, we’re getting in shape for football!” Sounded simple to me, I had never been obese, never smoked, didn’t drink (ok, so a little wine for the potassium), and I had always been quite physical. Heck, I’d even won some races in my day; on a horse. As I launched myself out the door to run with the boys, my husband scoffed,
“You can’t run a half mile!” Miffed but confident, I sprinted out the door on the heels of the boys. He was right. Within two tenths of a mile I knew I wasn’t going much farther, not at a run anyway… fortunately there was a huge boulder on the ranch were we lived, so I hid behind that for a ‘half mile’, then sneaked out and jogged on home. The boys never told, and I sure didn’t, but I was rudely awakened to the fact that you can look fit and feel fit, and not be fit. From that day on I ran every day for three years. (Now I’ve run for 26 years, but I’ve learned to take a day off occasionally!) Really stupid. I ran in the house during blizzards, outside in dangerous of weather, and in unsafe environments anywhere. Fortunate to have run injury free all those years, I developed a habit, perfected a style, and fell in love with fitness.

The specific benefits accrued for me are: resounding good health, a coaching position at Black Hills (the unsolicited benefit of being the only woman out there running!), the realization and accessing of personal power, quick recovery from cancer, sound mental health (my assessment), a fine collection of running tights, and a fabulous marriage during the Disney World Marathon. Not a bad return for the price of a pair of ASICS.
Fitness is an individual thing, to each his/her own. How I approach my regimen and where I decide to go with it, may be a quantum leap from what you decide to do and how you choose to achieve ‘anima sana in corpore sano,’ but the benefits are the same. Added to the physical and emotional results is the reality that we represent a model…kids will do what they see us do, and if I’m at all responsible for a young person chuggin’ a water instead of a beer, of moving through space instead of taking up space, it’s worth a few miles of sweat.

So do what works for you. We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.

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